Writing on 'The Liberty of Thought and Discussion', John Stuart Mill made what is, I hope, a fairly uncontroversial claim by today's standards. Mill argued that the a vibrant free market of ideas, uninhibited by excessive censorship, was a public good by anyone's standards. That the more people wrote, thought, argued, debated, and so on, the better.
The collaborative authorship of the Internet has given a new impetus to this idea. Whatever people said about e-commerce removing a lot of the inflexibility that impeded the development of the free market in goods and services, it would be a great deal easier to argue that this is true in the market for ideas. So we have Open Source development and the Open Rights Movement. We have Wikinomics. We have The Wisdom of Crowds, The Long Tail and all sorts of other fashionable nonsense interesting new ideas.
Continued at Never Trust a Hippy