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The Edge Foundation promotes “inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as well as to work for the intellectual and social achievement of society.” Here’s a video of Frank Schirrmacher, German journalist, essayist and author and co-publisher of the national German newspaper [w:Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung] (FAZ). In the video below, Schirrmacher riffs on the notion of the “informavore,” an organism that devours information like food. After posting Schirrmacher’s thoughts, Brockman invited other bright folks to respond, including George Dyson, Steven Pinker, John Perry Barlow, Doug Rushkoff, and Nick Bilton. Enjoy!
FRANK SCHIRRMACHER is a an influential German journalist, essayist, best-selling author, and since 1994 co-publisher of the leading national German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), where he is Editor of the Feuilleton, cultural and science pages of the paper. He is the author of the Das Methusalem-Komplott (The Methusaleh Conspiracy), a book, published in 14 languages selling more than one million copies in Germany, on that country’s aging society; and Payback: Warum wir im Informationszeitalter gezwungen sind zu tun, was wir nicht tun wollen, und wie wir die Kontrolle über unser Denken zurückgewinnen (Payback: Why in the Information Age we are forced to do what we do not want to do and how we can recover control over our thinking, November, Karl Blessing Verlag).
Every year, the Edge Foundation puts a single question to a host of scientific, political, philosophical, technical dignitaries — among them Howard Rheingold, Piet Hut, Cory Doctorow, George, Freeman and Esther Dyson, Richard Dawkins, Clay Shirky, Diane Halpern, Joi Ito etc. — and publishes the responses of online. Here’s a list of past questions.
This year’s question is equally intriguing:
WHAT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT? WHY?
As an activity, as a state of mind, science is fundamentally optimistic. Science figures out how things work and thus can make them work better. Much of the news is either good news or news that can be made good, thanks to ever deepening knowledge and ever more efficient and powerful tools and techniques. Science, on its frontiers, poses more and ever better questions, ever better put.
What are you optimistic about? Why? Surprise us!
I’m optimistic that the risks of anti-copying technology and the copyright wars are starting to move to the mainstream. Daily newspapers are reporting on the risks from Zune’s DRM; governments and librarians are starting to question the fairy tales from the entertainment industry. The British government is poised to be the first government in history to reject a proposal to extend copyright. A Canadian MP lost her seat last year because she’d sold out the country to a bunch of entertainment dinosaurs. Four European nations opened inquiries into the competition and consumer protection issues raised by iTunes DRM. The latest WIPO treaty looks like it has died, killed by activist involvement.
I’d like to put that question to you, our FGI readers. Please leave a comment telling us what you’re optimistic about? I’d like to hear especially what you’re optimistic about in terms of libraries and government information, but feel free to tell us whatever it is that’s on your mind. Happy 2007!