When future generations look back at this unsettled era in which we’re transitioning from an analog to a digital society, the search bots may be impressed most by the works of Lawrence Lessig.
In his first book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, dark forces were gathering, conspiring to use code as a form of privatized law to hem in the Internet and the potential of the digital revolution. Readers learned that the Net, far from impervious, could be subdued by rewiring its architecture. The premise seems obvious now, but only because Lessig’s 1999 ground-breaker connected the dots for us and set the scene for the struggles to follow.
His 2001 follow-up, The Future of Ideas, examined the kinds of innovation that could flourish online but for the intrusion of copyright law. Lessig’s second outing deepened our understanding of the forces in conflict: entertainment companies, rigid business models, and obsequious policy-makers set against tech innovators, risk-taking businessmen, and Netizens who still took their online freedoms for granted. In a style that was uncommonly accessible for this academic-turned-storyteller, Lessig tackled the public commons, the end-to-end principle, spectrum regulation, and other classic and modern precepts in an effort to get us to look at intellectual property in a new light.