evan at bad.dynu.ca
Thu Apr 21 13:21:13 EDT 2005
So, I was reading Richard Stallman's essay on the term "intellectual
...and I was thinking about some alternatives for the term. My
favorite that I've seen so far is this: "brainchild". Isn't that a
I like "brainchild" because it posits a more sentimental relation
between creator and creation. And it hints at the "labor" that goes
into the work, and that the creator invests part of him or herself
I like it because it's got the word "brain" in it. It's so...
physical. "I made this with my brain." "This sprung from my head."
Brains are so cool -- big spongy masses of tissue, working overtime
I like it because brains make ideas -- those intangible objects that
we give fixed form to in books, sculptures, and songs. You don't get
confused between the physical object as property and the represented
idea as property. One is base matter, the other is Thought. You can't
make a book with your brain, but you can make the story with your
brain and fix it into a book, or a computer file, or whatever.
It's also such a good concrete, visualizable term: you can picture the
little aethereal, glowing infant, made of thought, emerging on a beam
of light originating from the creator's forehead beamed onto the table
in front of them. Kind of like Princess Leia in that R2D2 holograph
thing in "Star Wars", except not as repetitive and more like a baby.
"Brainchild" is also a great pair of Saxon words. It's really
Beowulf-ish. "Many sea-warriors rode the wave-houses to make
I like it because it changes the relationship between creator and work
from one of ownership to one of parenthood. The control of an owner
for her property is perpetual, but the control of a parent over his
child is temporary. Eventually, a child grows up and goes out on its
And the purpose of making a child is so different than the purpose for
making or acquiring property. If someone said, "Why would I have a
child if I couldn't make money from it?", you'd look at them askance.
It's not like it'd be _bad_ for someone to make money from their
child, but it'd be a little unseemly.
There's a concept of guardianship built in -- that a creator wants
what's best for the work, and should be respected for his or her
relationship to it. And there's a concept of the need for freedom --
children that are kept in basements in the dark don't normally turn
out so great. Children need stimulation, interaction, lots of people.
There's an inalienable relationship between parent and child, too.
If someone buys your property from you, they become its owner. But if
someone buys your child from you, you're still its parent. People who
accumulate stockpiles of other people's property are savvy investors;
people who stockpile children are insane monsters.
And it applies so nicely to different kinds of ideas -- protected by
law or not. If I invent a new process, but don't patent it, it's still
my "brainchild", but not my "property".
Anyways, so, that's what I think.
More information about the cc-community