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Since There Have Been Masters And Students

ooo An Introduction By Martin Aller-Stead ooo

Since there have been Masters and students, there has been knowledge to husband, to pass on, to protect. Today's formal discussion is all about that concept, and what it entails today.

Does just knowing something make it yours? Can you do with knowledge what you will? Can knowledge belong to someone else, and although you may know it too, they still get to control it? Thus the topic of today's Forum, "Who Owns What You Know?" Some things, some ideas, some words, some techniques, are being made private, or being made available at a price, and being regulated by owners of the idea. The Coca Cola Company has patented the word "Always". But Nike has not tried to patent "Just Do It". Some researchers have tried to patent the genome of a living woman from the Brazilian forest, and Harvard University tried to patent a mouse used for oncological research. (In the US, the parent has been accepted. In Canada, the patent is not recognized.) What do we know that may belong to something, or someone, else?

You and I can 'know' many types of things. We may know what good strawberries taste like, or how a lovely spring wind feels on our faces. We know the sound of a hockey puck against boards, or the home smell of fresh baking. We may know the Pythagorean theorem, and how to recognize the abstraction called 'six'. I know what good music sounds like, and even if I have never heard a particular piece before, I can quickly judge it. Bach to Tupac, I can tell. And so can you. We each build a sifting system into our heads. That is called "Being Educated".

But what about the things we learn, and which we use to create that sifter, that judging and living apparatus we rely upon? Who owns the tools we use? The words? The images? There is an awful lot of 'stuff' out in the world that smart people want to know, so, as smart people gathered here today, we will examine this question from several starting points.

If I teach a class how to dissect frogs, and one of the class members goes on to become a famous researcher and uses some part of the technique she learnt from me, can I, as her former teacher, claim that she owes me something? After all, she is making her living, and gaining fame, which is itself worth something, by using the thing I taught her here at Monarch Park.

So, as the world of knowledge becomes more and more clearly defined into spheres of public and private, I believe it is worth examining The Privatization Of Knowledge, and asling Who Owns What We Learn?

Today we will hear from five panelists:

Ms Karen Thompson, Mr. Terry Wister, Mr. Gavin Barrett, Mr. Peter Koutakos and Mr. John Meyer. Each has a completely different starting point for their examination. Each will speak for no more than 15 minutes.

This is not a debate. Some of these good people will doubtless disagree with some, or all, of the others.

After the presentations, everyone in the room will be invited to come forward and join in personal discussion with the participants. This will be like an adult party, and you will get to move from group to group.

I hope you enjoy today's Monarch Institute. Ms June Gooding, Principal of Monarch Park Collegiate, has some words of welcome to all of you, and will stay to enjoy the discussion as her time permits.

Ms Gooding.


You may also contact me directly at martin@aller-stead.com