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It's an interesting issue and one that is certainly flavour of the month at the moment. My own vision of the future is that copies of documents or files will no longer be held physically on a storage device such as a hard disk or CD. When the power of networks and remote access increase sufficiently, the world will only need one master copy of anything, be it a book, an article, a song or a film. Clients will only have read access to a file, but they will be able to access it from anywhere, at any time, along with another 6bn people.

This would pretty much end the music industries woes because everyone has to pay to access the music, it can't be shared or copied between people. And a band (or film director or author) could write something, record it and put it on their server immediately for the world to listen to(or watch or read).

It's a long way off, and probably a little Utopian, but I like it.


"Centralised" information sounds wonderful - but when will it happen? Not yet. Look around my office, people find the "email paradigm" far easier to work with - instead of saving "master copies" and work on the same files on a shared networked drive, they edit and re-send work as attachments by email in an ad hoc manner. Many people prefer this mode of working to the "filing cabinet" metaphor and file their work away in terms of email+attachments. There are little differences in costs between the two paradigms because bandwidth and storage are both cheap.

The likes of Oracle, SAP and PeopleSoft are trying to change that paradigm, by creating centralised data-structures, but will they succeed?


Lessig gave the example of MP3.com - you burn your cd collection onto a file there, and can access it from wherever. It was closed by litigation - lawyers protecting their busness models. So I think a large barrier to 'centralised information' is companies trying to protect existing methods.
Of course its consumers who'll decide how it ends, but I think its inevitable.
For example iTunes - increasingly it'll become cheaper to pay a subsciption and play songs from their massive database, rather than pay 99cents to save a song on your own hardrive.


Very true. For these ideas to become commonplace, the whole culture has got to change. But once the big companies realise the savings to be made by taking this approach (and the dominance they'll establish over piracy) it's bound to become more mainstream.

My other theory is to do with the hardware and software used to access the data. This will have to become much more limited and less open to customisation by the general public. This already exists in the hardware market to a large extent, but less so in the software market. And is it something that the public will embrace?


Lets not forget that we're now engaged in"Centralised" information - instead of myself, Steve and Wyska sending emails between each other, comments appear in a central 'file' which we all can access and view/append.


Oh, when will people learn?


I think it's 1-0 to wyska & AJE - it looks like the new Google email service, GMail, is going to use clever algorithms to store forwarded/duplicated emails just once, centrally. Users will effectively haev one gig of storage space, but not actually taking up that amount of physical hard drive space!

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