July 5, 2011
A person at a party last weekend told me about the issue of territory. He explained that some people have a ratio of L-dopamine to dopamine in a certain part of their brain that causes them to be more territorial than others. Since this is not a learned trait, it is difficult to say that it should be unlearned. Two people I know have an unexpectedly strong response to violation of their physical property, even when that violation is not intended to be malicious. Most people I know lock their devices when not in use, but several people I know do not lock them at all. This should display the wide range of stances on this issue. However, the strong response against non-malicious violation of personal property is one that has prompted me to rethink the issue of personal property. If some people think that personal property should be sacred, does that mean that everyone must also so as to not offend these people? This opinion is the exact opposite of Richard Stallman's suggestion that people should set blank passwords. While Richard Stallman's ideas are novel, they are not so radical -- they are mirrored by kindergarten teachers who tell children to share their toys. So the question of trust must be raised. Do I trust others to use my computer? Certainly, as a different user, they cannot affect my system enough to cause me harm, so I benefit from them being able to use my computers. I wouldn't have a public website if I didn't think that sharing was important. Physical property is different than intellectual property though. I certainly don't make my money available to other people and I don't make my clothes available to others even though I have a huge stash of clothes I don't wear. Perhaps my take on personal property is naive that I should need to rethink my values of other people's property. Generally we must accept the rules of others when it comes to personal property because it is in some cases considered to be a serious violation.
Because of this discussion, I have thought a bit about others and I feel that I have learned a valuable lesson -- that others have different thoughts and ideas about property. I should be clear to ask someone before using their property even if my use is simply to type a nice message to them. Who knows, by asking them I could learn even more.