Warning: this post is going to be more nakedly self-centered than the average entry on this blog. End of warning.
I’m happily reading James Boyle’s The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Minds*, but this happy experience has led to many befuddled questions about personal balance.
First is the balance of my intellectual diet. Am I giving as much attention to proponents of stronger intellectual property as I am to the critics? I’m obviously forming an opinion on the matter, but within the confines of limited time and a high value placed on utilitarian arguments, I’d like that opinion to be as informed and objectively arrived at as possible.
Second is the balance of fun and enjoyable reading over less easily digestible but perhaps more useful reading. The Public Domain, thanks to Boyle’s crisp prose, clear argumentation, and marked intention for being readable (“You have never heard true condescension until you have heard academics pronounce the word ‘popularizer’.”), belongs squarely in the “enjoyable” camp. Of course, the book is also an educational monograph (and I read all the end notes!). But the ease of reading it makes me queasily uneasy. Maybe I should be reading William M. Landes and the Honorable Richard A. Posner’s The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law instead? Maybe I should read Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine’s Against Intellectual Monopoly next? (Should this last happen, I would also read Boldrin and Levine’s in paperback, a balance that will help Jonathan Franzen sleep at night, knowing that I will not be corroding our “system of justice or responsible self-government” while he reposes. Or not, see here.)
Third, speaking of limited time, should I be reading all this non-mandatory, recreational stuff at all? I’ve heard more than one of my classmates express the sentiment that they have no time for this kind of reading during the school quarter. We all have our sets of responsibilities and priorities, and I, too, would give up my reading time when faced with some of these sets. Nonetheless, I do read the unassigned James Boyle now, and so obviously I have time for it. Should I not? Should I feel guilty about that? Clearly, not guilty enough to do change anything, but a useless malaise sort of guilt induced by a vague sense of not balancing my school-work-life differently?
***: This is my first post (partially) composed on an iPad. Chalk up one more balancing act for me: PC writing v. other.