Had breakfast with an SBS student who’s doing a summer project on technology and IP transfer. It was a good time: I find the SBS students interesting to talk to, both because they’re working on cool stuff, and because they’re useful informants about the local culture of the business school.
One of the things we talked about was the degree to which you could think about intellectual property as something akin to a manufactured object, or something that’s inherently social. If it’s the first, the challenge people who want to facilitate intellectual property have to deal with involve reducing transaction costs and asymmetries, because IP is something that you could move as easily as an iPod moves from the factory floor in China to your door. If it’s the second, though, and if the transfer of intellectual property is more a process of social negotiation in which creators and users of IP create a common understanding around pieces of IP, then you need to design a very different system: one that facilitates relationships between creators and users, rather than facilitates transactions between anonymous buyers and sellers.
I’ve finished packing, and now I’m going to go check out, walk around for a while, then take the bus from Oxford to Heathrow Terminal 5. I’m going to leave ont he early side, to make sure I get there with plenty of time; then I figure if I have a long wait, i can wander around T5 and take pictures, while my clothing disappears into some strange black hole.