On the Net* and the liberation of information that “wants” to be free** - A call for action by the United Nations, Universities, researchers, and development agencies, with reference primarily to international trade law, Ralph Amissah

5 - Conclusion

It is suggested that the Net provides immense flexibility of design for the collection and dissemination of information. This is a result of the fact that publishing on the Net is inexpensive, much can be automated, and that it is inherently scaleable. Furthermore, a targeted information dissemination area can be co-ordinated based on either or both: a centralised collection and publication effort; or through independent decentralised publication efforts. We have suggested that there may be any number of independent motors for such a system to pepetuate itself, driven by the interests of individual members involved - which may or may not be similar. If the primary purpose of publication of a type or class of information is not commercial and there is sufficient underlying motive the Net offers the possibility for much of that information to be made free. The characteristics of scalability, patterning and self-organisation, and a suggested underlying dynamic towards self-sustenance, should be examined in seeking answers as to how information should be added to the Net, and by whom - with as much as possible being completed at source. These dynamics can be utilised to reduce administrative costs, and increase the efficiency of information collection/gathering and dissemination. Any non-commercial publishing design or model, whether centralised or decentralised, and whether internationally oriented, as primarily discussed here, or domestic, can benefit from taking into account and utilising wherever practicable, the dynamics built into the nature of the Net - in particular those of patterning and self-organising.

There are in fact several attempts by individuals underway, to operate meaningful non-commercial projects on the Net. 35 Which models succeed in the long run depends on many factors. For the dynamics envisaged in this paper, however, a certain threshold of active participation is required - where sufficient numbers of users of a given type - researchers/ judges/ institutions, wish to become active participants - because they (directly or indirectly) recognise the benefits of the system and wish to maintain it. There is a possibility and perhaps even a certainty that a non-commercial model will become established in some areas. Establishment in one field or area does not guarantee that it will take off in others. There are vested interests, with capital, and a strong voice, that have little interest in such a new system establishing itself, because the system as it is works for them. There will be persuasive arguments that cost recovery must form a necessary part of the equation. There are also existing bureaucracies within Universities and other organisations that could benefit from such a system, that may not be able or willing to adapt to take advantage of the opportunities presented. This article does not seek to belittle the many very real problems connected with the management and indexing of such vast volumes of information on the Net. Neither does it address many real problems, 36 related to such issues as language, and translation, which it will in some cases be necessary to tackle. Indeed it is likely that such added value will remain in the domain of the commercial publisher.

The article does demonstrate that there are motivating forces for non-commercial publishing, and that with the right thinking and design structures set in place, there is much that can take care of itself.

The availability on the Net of infinite adjacent (or proximate) space, in which information can be stored, that is made immediately accessible world-wide, guarantees that the Net will change the way we work. There are different paths along which various aspects of the Net could develop. To achieve them will take a conscious effort. It may still be that only a restrictive commercial or elitist model comes to exist. The Net is the most powerful information tool we have ever had, it empowers and makes possible the liberation of much valuable information.

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” - Plato . . . on “enlightenment”

 35. To name a few: The Legal Information Institute, Cornell University; The Australian Legal Information Institute; Find Law at Stanford University; Project Argonaut at Hieros Gamos; Law Journal Extra; The Canadian Governments Legal texts; the Zambian Legal Information Institute.

 36. Not all problems currently fussed about are equal, eg. citation in the long run is not a problem; nor need texts that migrate their location on the Net be.



SiSU Spine (object numbering & object search) 2022