Information Wants to be Free

A long time ago, this phrase was the watchword of those radical hacker types. Today's appearance of lots of web services (and I mean the term in its loosest meaning -- RSS feeds, REST APIs, SOAP APIs, and anything else on the web) tells me that information is getting freer. But it's not free -- not yet. Nearly every one of those web services comes with terms of use, license conditions, restrictions, provisos, and agreements. The information isn't really free yet. It's just kind of discounted -- tantalizing, but not yet free.

I want to see it free like the Seattle Public Library's web service is free. I was talking with a couple of the people who created and run the SPL's web service and was really impressed with the attitude I heard: their job is to make it easy to get to the information they hold and they deeply get that.

So when does information get free?

And when does society get transparent?