When we launched “The Berkman Center for Internet & Society” in 1998, some wondered whether we were just talking about the “law of the horse,” but the intervening 10 years have shown us that horse has legs. The Internet’s distributed communication systems have taught us something new about speech, creativity, and culture — showing the economic flourishing of all these in a distributed, open network.
Berkman’s founding visionary, Charlie Nesson, recognized openness as a core principle early, and others have gradually caught on: freedom at the core means more opportunities to generate value elsewhere in the network. Free software supports better-specialized hardware, user-optimized development, and electronic commerce. Open-access non-discriminatory networks support both commerce and communities.