It was Dickens’ idea. I am just repeating it.
One of the ongoing threads in this blog is about how the accelerated pace of information flow via internet is changing institutions. The main cause of the change is that empowered with more relevant information, individuals gain leverage in initiating and seeing through great projects on their own. We don”t have to wait for the the great and mighty (institutional gatekeepers) to allow things to move forward.
Except, of course, when it comes to law. Law making, for example, remains a rather dismal and secretive bit of alchemy that by and large is still done behind closed doors. As I recall, in at least one country, drafts of law qualify as state secrets.
But the recent dust up about SOPA may be changing this. Techies have caught onto the risk they face that IP rights holders do not support more information flow if it appears to conflict with their business models. And IP rights holders have a lot of power in influencing law making. It was a bit of a shock to IP rights holders that the techies won the battle to stop SOPA. But a bigger shock may be on the way. One of the unexpected offshoots is a new focus on law making itself. Why isn’t the process more transparent? Fred Wilson wrote about how these questions are being raised the other day,.
This is interesting for folks who have a stake in the balancing of IP rights and internet platform providers. But it is also evidence of a new type of institutional learning. A new question has emerged. Can the internet improve law making? And the question may go viral.