Just before lunch, we enjoyed a panel about “The politics of new technologies”. Or rather, most of it. Kenneth Cukier, a journalist with The Economist gave a presentation about… nothing in particular.
By no means do I mean to offend Kenneth, who, I am sure, is a fine journalist. But that profession’s innate generalism did not at all serve his talk well. This way, he gave a fine example of how using the term “intellectual property” fudges things up.
After having started with a test of faith, asking his audience about their beliefs with regard to “intellectual property”, he launched into happily mixing up copyright, patents and all other sorts of monopoly powers, which rendered his otherwise interesting examples rather useless.
His manner of speaking was excellent and entertaining. Yet, the talk left many people I talked to feeling somewhat short-changed. It was like listening to a song by Britney Spears: Pretty in the first moment, mind-numbing from then on.
Much the same goes for many other presentations, especially most of those from the conservative camp. The patterns are familiar and recurring: You are either “pro-IP” or “anti-IP”; you either want to keep or abolish the system of intellectual monopoly powers, which is usually an introduction to lengthy panoramas of the anarchy which would then supposedly ensue.
I know that I don’t always abstain from focusing the nitty-gritty of the debate into a decisive point. But this sort of over-generalisation certainly does not contribute much to the discussion.