Information Must be Free to be Effective


Session Title:

  • Curating in/as Open System(s)

Presentation Title:

  • Information Must be Free to be Effective



  • When analysing the need for free information, it is usually addressed from an ideological stance rather than the perspective of efficacy.

    When quoting Stewart Brand’s now legendary claim that ‘information wants to be free’, we often overlook the wider context in which it was originally made: ‘On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.’

    Consequently, this need to be free does not respond to ideological concerns, but to a need to be effective. Shared information in circulation produces a performance or output that is the real value of information. Information that is not in circulation has no value and our duty is to identify the dynamics that best increases the value of information. The modes and structures of cybernetic thinking are based on the principle that shared knowledge allows us to move forward as thinking societies at an exponential rate. We generate knowledge, but it is in sharing it that we actually produce social capital and wealth.