A week ago on thursday (27. oct. 2005) there was a legal seminar in the scope of CreativeCommons Slovenia being launched. And one of the “lectures” was had by Charles Nesson (bio) (blog) in which he posed – amongst other very interesting questions – a claim that it would be best for the internet if it was governed by our world’s universities …or as he put it:
“Give the net to the universities.”
And I have to say, this idea is very compelling. Sophocracy – as a rule of the most educated/intelligent/knowing – is a great system in theory. And in praxis it would fit perfect for something as abstract and at the same time highly tehnical as internet is.
But I see a few problems in the contemporary system of universities that take a bit of romaticism out of this idea.
The first is that sophocracy is in its base still an oligarhy – a rule of a few. The only difference with other oligarhies is that sophocracy uses a different factor who should rule, then let us say, aristocracy. But this by itself is not that problematic. On the contrary – I am willing to claim it can even be a very good choice!
The real problem arises when the first comes together with the second problem. In today’s society success plays such a big role that good will can be overtaken by it. In a society where power and success play such a big role, it can prove to be problematic if those who pull the strings, have them in their hands only because of the status. Sadly, it is not an uncommon problem that those who succeed are not necessarily the same who are the best knowing, good-willing and caring (if I can be bold enough to use this term).
The combination of both can undermine the legitimacy of such ruling – e.g. as in Nesson’s example – of the internet.
Of course, if these problem are not present, the sophocratic approach to the internet would in fact be the best, also in my view. Whether it is or not, is not my right to say