Open Page, v 1.1

I’m no slashdot knee jerk (well, maybe a little), but Lawrence Lessig is really cool. IBM and HP aren’t going to be able to hold out forever, and when the money’s gone all that’s left is the Bill of Rights.
Read more, or ask me.

Leverage the knowledge of technical community
by 2Bits

A lot of obscure laws have been passed, and the majority of the population
are not even aware of their existence. However, the technical community is
watching the legislation quite closely. And we seem to understand the
potential impact and risk on freedom and privacy. But the technical
community has a very small influence on politics, and seems almost
clueless in “playing political games.”

How can we leverage the knowledge of the community to help educate
politicians and the general population in terms of technologies, and the
impact of the proposed bills? Briefly, how can we help better, not just
sending letters to congress people or senators?


is a great question. We need translators. We need to translate the values of the network
into terms that nontechnical people get. And we need to watch for changes in the
architecture or mix of technologies layered into the network, and raise warnings about how
those changes will alter the environment for innovation and creativity. As one of my heroes
in the law, James Boyle, puts it, we need an
environmentalism for the Internet. You are the environmental experts. You can credibly show
the world how changes in the ecology of the Internet will destroy the environment for
creativity, innovation, and freedom that it produced.

Will you do that? Again, I am
skeptical. Rather than trying to focus this debate, or agree on ways to make others
understand, you guys immediately turn these questions into irrelevant bickerings. When
someone reported that I had written a book described as the “Silent Spring” of the Internet,
that opened up a thread about whether in fact DDT had harmed the environment. Someday, when
freedom is gone, and all we’ve got is the right to whisper our thoughts to those closest to
us, our children will look back and ask, why did we think we had the luxury to quibble?

But if you don’t want to become translators, if you don’t want to write
environmental impact statements, if you don’t want to try to convince the North in
California that if it gets taken over by the South, freedom and innovation ends, then you
could do as Torvalds has recommended: give money to those who are fighting the battle, in
particular, EFF. I’m on the board of EFF, so
blissfully biased about to whom. But whether EFF or someone else, follow Torvalds and the
other christ-figures in history: Tithe. Take the cost of Internet access (whether you pay it
or not) for one year; send 10% to an organization fighting for your freedom.


Posted in Legacy by matt at December 31st, 2001.

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