It seems like i am surrounded by references to the public domain lately. sarai readers, conference topics, creative commons dedications and now there is even talk about renaming the public research programme of waag society (which i run) into ‘public domain’.
In the last two days i have however been reminded that this is nothing new. it appears that i have always been surrounded by people who care a lot about the public domain. My childhood/puberty (when is unsuccessfully trying to master the art of skateboarding) favorite video is powell peraltas 1988 classic skate movie ‘public domain‘. Skateboarding has always been about living in the physical public domain which nowadays even seems to includes fighting against technical protection measures.
After i stopped skateboarding i worked for almost ten years as a bike messenger. For bike messenger the urban public domain is where you spend a lot of your time (waiting for runs, socialising after work). I just came across this picture which i took while being in NYC for metropoloco in August 2000. I do not remember the name of the messenger, but this picture is one of my all time favorites as it really captures the spirit of being a bike messenger in making your living in the hostile environment of ever more privatizing cities. (the full text on the bandana reads ‘we live in public’)