Feel a bit left out of the file-sharing copyright debate? Professor Solum, in critiquing Lessig's new book, breaks down some the of major economic arguments and offers his usual rigorous treatment. A must read.
I also noticed, from the same Bookclub post, this fantastic idea from Copyfight's Ernest Miller:
Why not turn a book into a conversation?
Why not, indeed? Lessig would certainly favor such a concept, I believe. And if he didn't, too bad, the book is already licensed for such a thing. Poor arguments can be pointed out, but so can additional evidence on behalf of particular arguments. In a way, Solum's work is a step in this direction. Who will be the first to add Solum's book club to an edition of Lessig's book? (I don't see a license on your blog, Solum, is that okay with you?) Wouldn't it be great, also, to append all the reviews, negative and positive, as well as Lessig's promotional interviews to the book for easy future reference.
In the spirit of free culture, I offer a broader variation. How about extending the culture of open source software to political argument? Suppose I write an op-ed style critique of, say, some provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Some other blogger likes it, but thinks I should have included better evidence, or stylized my argument better. Instead of the ordinary blogger critique of quoting me and then making suggestions, why not just rewrite my article, provided I don't mind? The right creative commons license makes this easy. I might call my article "version 1.0" and the next fellow who rewrites it could call it version 1.1. Subsequent revisions of my original article could be version 1.2, 1.3, etc. Or if a third writer wants to revise version 1.1, they would call it 1.1.1. Naming versions like this, combined with blogospheric linking could preserve a pathway of the article's evolution. With any success, the article could improve, or get more interesting.
I suspect that this sort of collaborative revision does not happen now, even on blogs using liberal creative commons licenses, because the blogging culture of attribution and respect requires writers to clearly distinguish between their own writing and the writing they critique. However, by explicitly dedicating a post or an article to the kind of collaborative revision I suggest, any anxiety about tinkering too closely with "someone else's work" should lift.
Who knows, could work.