” Information wants to be free ” is an expression that means that people should be able to access information freely. It is often used by technology activists to criticize laws that limit transparency and general access to information. People who criticize Intellectual Property law say the system of such government granted monopolies conflicts with the development of a public domain of information. The phrase is Often credited back to Stewart Brand , Who Was Recorded Saying it at a hacker conference in 1984. [1]


The iconic phrase is attributed to Stewart Brand , [1] who, in the late 1960s, founded the Whole Earth Catalog and argued that technology could be liberating rather than oppressing. [2] The earliest recorded occurrence of the expression was at the first Hackers Conference in 1984. Brand told Steve Wozniak : [3]

On the other hand, it is very valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have two fighting against each other. [4]

Brand’s conference remarks are transcribed in the Whole Earth Review (May 1985, p. 49) and was later form appears in His The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT : [5]

Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. … That tension will not go away. [4]

According to historian Adrian Johns, the slogan expresses a view that had already been articulated in the mid-20th century by Norbert Wiener , Michael Polanyi and Arnold Plant , who advocated for the free communication of scientific knowledge, and specifically criticized the patent system. [6]

Eventually, free information will cause secondary education to have less importance. An individual goes to a university to learn, however, one can learn via internet searches or YouTube. College degrees are, almost by definition, a certificate of expertise. A YOUR skill set. [7]

Gratis versus Free 

Main article: Gratis versus Libre

The various forms of the original statement are ambiguous: the slogan can be used to argue the benefits of propertied information, of liberated, free, and open information, or of both. It can be taken as an expression of a fact-of-science information. That information is widely distributed. Much of its force is due to the anthropomorphic metaphor that imputes desire to information. In 1990 Richard Stallman restated the concept normatively, without the anthropomorphization:

I believe that all information should be free. By ‘free’ I am not referring to price, but rather to the freedom to copy the information and to adapt it to one’s own uses. When information is useful, redistributing it makes humanity wealthier no matter who is distributing and no matter Who is receiving. [8]

Stallman’s reformulation incorporates a political stance into the value-neutral observation of social trends.


Main article: Cyberpunk

( S ) of the cyberpunk movement, whose members espouse a particular political ( anarchist ) viewpoint. The building of the statement takes icts meaning beyond the mere judgmental observation, “Information shoulds be free” by Acknowledging que la internal strength gold Entelechy of information and knowledge Makes It Essentially incompatible with notions of proprietary software , copyrights, patents, subscription services , etc. . They believe that information is dynamic, ever-growing and evolving and can not be contained within (any) ideological structure.

According to this philosophy, hackers , crackers , and phreakers are free of charge. Other participants in this network include cypherpunks who educate people to use public-key cryptography to protect the privacy of their messages from corporate or governmental snooping and programmers who write free software and open source code . Still others create Free-Nets, which allow users to gain access to computer resources for which they would otherwise need an account. They could also break copyright law by swapping music, movies, or other copyrighted materials over the Internet.

Chelsea Manning is Alleged to-have said “Information shoulds be free” [9] to Adrian Lamo When explaining a rationale for US government records to be released to WikiLeaks . The narrative goes on with Manning wondering if she is a ‘hacker’, ‘cracker’, ‘hacktivist’, ‘leaker’ or what “. [10]

Literary usage

In the “Fall Revolution” series of science fiction books, anarchist sci-fi author Ken Macleod riffs and puns on the expression by writing about entities composed of information actually “wanting”, as in desiring, freedom and the scheming of several human characters With differing political and ideological agenda, to facilitate or disrupt these entities’ quest for freedom.

In the cyberpunk world of post-singularity transhuman culture described by Charles Stross in his books like Accelerando and Singularity Sky . [11] [12]

See also

  • 2600: The Hacker Quarterly
  • Crypto-anarchism
  • cypherpunk
  • Free content
  • Free culture movement
  • Freedom of information
  • Free Haven Project
  • Freenet
  • Free software
  • hacktivism
  • Hacktivism
  • Horror vacui (physics)
  • Information activist
  • Internet censorship
  • Internet privacy
  • Netsukuku
  • Openness
  • Streisand effect
  • Tor (anonymity network)
  • Tor-ramdisk
  • Transparency


  1. ^ Jump up to:b Wagner, R Polk, information wants to be free: intellectual property and the mythologies of control ( PDF essay) , University of Pennsylvania .
  2. Jump up^ Baker, Ronald J, Mind over matter: why intellectual capital is the chief source of wealth , p. 80.
  3. Jump up^ “Edge 338” , Edge (338) , retrieved 2011-04-23 .
  4. ^ Jump up to:b Clarke, Roger, Information Wants to be Free .
  5. Jump up^ Brand, Stewart (1987), The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT , Viking Penguin, p. 202, ISBN  0-14-009701-5 .
  6. Jump up^ Johns, Adrian (2009), Piracy. The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates , The University of Chicago Press, p. 429, ISBN  978-0-226-40118-8 , We still live amid the legacies of these mid-century debates about science and society. We inherit their terms, and the culture of science that shapes our world is the one left to us by them. Wiener, Polanyi and Plant Wiener, Polanyi and Plant
  7. Jump up^ https://venturebeat.com/2014/04/25/why-google-doesnt-care-about-college-degrees-in-5-quotes/
  8. Jump up^ Denning, Dorothy E (October 1990), “Concerning Hackers Who Break into Computer Systems” , Proceedings of the 13th National Computer Security Conference , Washington, DC: Georgetown, pp. 653-64.
  9. Jump up^ KEVIN POULSEN AND KIM ZETTER (6 October 2013). “‘I Can not Believe What I’m Confessing to You’: The WikiLeaks Chats”. Wired.com . Retrieved 24 November 2013 .
  10. Jump up^ Steve Fishman (3 July 2011). “How Bradley Manning Became One of the Most Unusual Revolutionaries in American History” . New York Magazine . Retrieved 4 July 2011 .
  11. Jump up^ Stross Accelerando (review) , Trashotron, 2005 , retrieved 2011-04-23 .
  12. Jump up^ Stross, Charles (2010-04-01), Singularity Sky – A Modest Construct , Heliologist , retrieved 2011-04-23 .

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