Peer to Peer

You Can't Steal a Gift: Peer to Peer Politics by gmoke

Essay by gmoke, reposted by permission, from the European Tribune


November 6, 2012, the MIT Center for Civic Media and Department of Urban Planning had a conversation on "Peer to Peer Politics" with Steven Johnson, author of Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked World moderated by Aaron Naparstek, visiting scholar at MIT's DUSP, and featuring Harvard Law School's Yochai Benkler, Susan Crawford, and Lawrence Lessig. Video of the event online.

To my mind, the discussion was less about the electoral politics we usually associate with that word and more about how peer-to-peer [P2P] networks are already being used among diverse populations for civic activities and many other things. When Susan Crawford, founder of OneWebDay, paraphrased Kevin Kelly by saying "The internet was built by love. It's a gift," (The Web Runs on Love, Not Greed), I thought of the idea and the story behind the title of the book You Can't Steal a Gift about jazz players Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Milt Hinton, and Nat King Cole by Gene Lees (Lincoln, NE: Univ of NE Press, 2001 ISBN 0-8032-8034-3):

Phil Woods: "I was in Birdland, stoned, as I often was in those days. Dizzy and Art Blakey kidnapped me. Took me home to Dizzy's and sat me down and said, 'What are you moaning about? Why don't you get your own band?'...
 
"I asked them if a white guy could make it, considering the music was a black invention. I was getting a lot of flak about stealing not only Bird's music but his wife and family as well [Woods was married to Chan, Charlie Parker's widow]... And Dizzy said, 'You can't steal a gift. Bird gave the world his music, and if you can hear it you can have it.'"

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