Losing Control

Dave Cormier thinks there may be a conspiracy in the seemingly unrelated convergence of DOPA, Congressional rejection of net neutrality, and pending patents held by Blackboard.

If the next blackboard patent gives them rights over “content and portal systems and associated products” and DOPA cancels the personal voice and expression were talking about kids having in our classrooms and the ’series of tubes’ (net neutrality thingy) makes it so that we have to pay for using bandwidth, essentially allowing the tube owners to turn on and off the taps according to how much big money you have… what, I ask you, is left?

If I wanted to control everything that was happening on the internet this is exactly what i’d do.

While I’m not ready to put on my tin foil hat and stand look out for the black helicopters, Dave does make some good points about these events creating the potential for a relatively small number of companies, with government blessing, to control the web.

And the key word is control. Politicians and big media are so accustomed to being gatekeepers for information that they’re unsure of how to deal with the wide open nature of the current web.

So, they fall back on the only tools they know, legislation and intellectual property restrictions. The Blackboard patents are just the most recent example of the later.

For those of us swimming in the middle of Web 2.0, it doesn’t make sense to award a patent for such an obvious concept as a system to manage learning content on the web. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of systems for doing that, some of which predate Blackboard.

But the people making decisions on intellectual property rights are outside the pool watching. Worse, they do their jobs using rules that are becoming more out of date with each passing month.

To the people who write those rules, it makes sense to allow one company to control such a powerful idea.

As for DOPA and net neutrality, these are simply the latest examples of government trying to rewrite communications rules using concepts from thirty years ago.

The bottom line, however, is that the industries and institutions who thought they were in control are deathly afraid of losing it.

I’m not sure all these events represent a conspiracy as much as a gut reaction.

** As a matter of full disclosure I should probably note that our overly large school district owes 1/3 of it’s edtech soul to Blackboard. The other 2/3 goes to Pearson Education, but that’s another rant.

blackboard, patent, conspiracy