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February 01, 2008

Lessig Learned

Yesterday I attended Lawrence Lessig's last lecture in Palo Alto. On the one hand I was sad to see him move from public domain and copyright to the easier and more obvious issue of political corruption. On the other hand I was just happy to be there to witness his last "pie in the sky" speech and drink in the optimism.

Long ago, in my life as a political speech writer I dreamt of producing the speech that rallied the movement. Twice I delivered speeches while chained to welfare offices, but for the most part I wrote handshake speeches for centres of excellence. It was depressing.

When you've obsessed on the cadence of the Beats, and studied Jesse Jackson's sermons, and memorized "I Have a Dream", you don't want to be peppering your speeches with Dale Carnegie quotes and Whitney Houston sound bites. Maybe the children are our future, but if we keep filling their heads with bullshit cliches, the future is going to be pretty bleak.

Lessig is in so many ways, the "I Have a Dream"-er of the free culture movement. Listening to him, in a room full of cyberpunks, film makers, writers, business men and civil rights lawyers, I can't help feeling like I am a part of something great - something democratic. Lessig rallies a movement in words that are accessible, honest and tangible. He's protecting your right to create and distribute without being bullied by monopolies. Moreover, he's ensuring that works of genius add to the public body of knowledge. He's ensuring that the public and the public's kids don't turn into a bunch of dancing meat puppets. more>>

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