July 12, 2003  ·  Lessig

Yesterday, I completed a draft of a new book. Tomorrow, Bettina and I leave for our first vacation in a very long time (and, as we expect, the last vacation the two of us will take alone in a very long time).

So it is time for me to take a break from this space too. But I’ve arranged for a much more interesting guest blogger while I’m gone: former governor, and presidential candidate, Howard Dean.

This is, I believe, the first time a presidential candidate has been a guest blogger. But it is an obvious extension of blogs and the process of becoming President. Campaigns are all about meeting different groups and talking about ideas. Where better than a blog?

I have great respect for Governor Dean, and especially the clarity of his voice. I have even greater respect now that I see the doctor makes house calls. So Governor, welcome to this tiny server at Stanford: You’ll find perfect acoustics provided by MovableType, and an interesting mix of views provided by the readers.

And to everyone else, enjoy the week of something totally different. Dean is on starting Monday. I should be back the week following.

One ground rule: I’ve had a policy of not editing comments of others, regardless of abusiveness. That is not my policy for my guests. You may disagree with the views you read here. But if you are reading them here, then you at least should respect the fact that they are being expressed here. It is important to me that blog-space everywhere become a place where more of this kind of conversation can occur. So trolls, please save your abuse for my return.

  • http://ethanol.blogspot.com Evan

    Good heavens. Dare I interpret Governor Dean’s guest blogging on Prof. Lessig’s site as a sign that he supports copyright reform?

    I’m already a supporter and volunteer for the Dean campaign, and I made that decision despite having no idea what GovernorDean’s stance was on this issue. I think copyright reform is one of the most important issues to the long-term health of our nation–it has effects that echo for generations–but there’s a difference between important and urgent, and I believe the most urgent thing to do right now is unseat President Bush. So I decided this issue would have to wait for another election, and I would support Governor Dean no matter what his position was on copyright.

    But, good lord, if he’s actually in substantial agreement with Dr. Lessig on the issue, it’s like a dream come true.

  • Lessig

    Good point, and I should have made this clear: Dean’s guest blogging says nothing about Dean’s views about the issues I’ve been pushing here. I’ve never discussed these issues with any member of the Dean campaign. And as we don’t (yet) determine elections, I’m not even sure that Dean has worked these issues out himself.

    So please don’t read anything into this more than the obvious: This is yet another way in which the Dean campaign has understood something about the net.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Hmm … “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” … or a presidential candidate?

    How do we know it’s really Howard Dean, and not a Dean campaign staffer?
    (after all, letters from many officeholders, are really by their staff)

    I’ve gotten very cynical since “Aimee Deep”

    I’m reminded of a Heinlein book, where a candidate is kidnapped, and his staff temporarily covers it up by replacing the candidate with an actor. It works so well they decide to ask the actor take over as the candidate. The actor objects that he’s not a qualified. The staff argues in reply that it doesn’t really matter, since the candidate is just the public face of the campaign organization anyway.

  • http://www.ahawkins.org/weblog.php Alwin Hawkins

    The Heinlein book is Double Star.

  • Kelly Miggs

    It’s a real shame you’re editing comments. It would be hillarious to see Howard Dean get into a flame war with someone called “yomoma187!”

    I just hope the editing will be limited to abusive comments. It would be disappointing to see a “high brow only” sort of segregation take place. If word gets out, there will be a lot of new visitors here.

  • http://www.charm.net/~pete/pete.cgi Pete

    I hope the Governor does share some of his thoughts on copyright reform with us; though I’m enthusiastically supporting his candidacy I’ve wondered what his position on IP would be since he apparently has significant ties to biotech.

    That said, a progressive position on copyright reform and related issues could help him to lock up the geek vote and get them to contribute and volunteer their services to the campaign, local Democratic Party offices, etc. Scan through the comments on any given “Your Rights Online” story on Slashdot and you’ll see a lot of people waiting to throw in with someone who’ll represent them.

    Golly, I wonder how Big Media would react?

  • http://www.ensight.org Jeremy C. Wright

    I was originally excited to see a Presidential candidate with a blog, until I found out it was mostly press clippings. Now we’ll actually get to hear him say something, so welcome to blogging Governor Dean.

  • http://ethanol.blogspot.com Evan
      Good point, and I should have made this clear: Dean�s guest blogging says nothing about Dean�s views about the issues I�ve been pushing here. I�ve never discussed these issues with any member of the Dean campaign.

    How did it come to pass that Governor Dean signed on to guest-host your site, then? I (perhaps naively) assume you must have some kind of relationship with him…

    Anyway, as I said before, I’m going to support him ethusiastically no matter what he thinks about copyright law, but it sure would be music to my ears if he endorsed the Eldred Act. Regardless, I’m eagerly awaiting his first post.

  • http://radio.weblogs.com/0108026/ Gary Santoro

    A fine idea! Looking forward to the RSS feed.

  • http://oceanfordean.blogspot.com doug hudson

    I have been wondering about Dean’s policy on tech issues — it is one of the larger policy areas that he hasn’t provided a position paper on.

    Three areas (I mentioned this on the dean2004 blog forum as well)

    (1) pharmaceutical patents, generics, and affordable drugs (both domestically and internationally via WIPO agreements)

    (2) digital copyright, given that more people swap music than voted for either Bush or Gore in 2004. And many of those that weren’t of voting age then – are now. A fair policy balancing legitimate piracy concerns with consumer rights is needed, and the lack of such a policy balance is retarding the growth of many technologies, destroying the entertainment industry, and, unrealistically, turning millions of americans into criminals.

    (3) restoring a fiscal environment supporting both public and private financing of technology development to place the US back at the forefront of technology innovation.


  • Jim in Arizona

    I am so glad to see that Dr. Dean will be taking part in this blog, if for just a short time. Having met and worked with the governor and his education department in a previous life (when I was an administrator in a Vermont school district), one of my first connections upon reading “The Future of Ideas” was the innovations that Dean championed as governor. His campaign this year has had everything to do with the commons, and not with the traditional political infrastructure.

    While I certainly don’t agree with everything the governor says, the philosophical underpinnings of his past administration, and the entire makeup of his campaign so far, make me hopeful that Governor Dean will be receptive to ideas that advance innovation.

    And I would be extremely disappointed if the governor left it to his campaign to write his comments on this blog… it’s not something he’s done in the past, at least from my experience.

  • Jonathan

    Let me just say that this is extremely cool, and that I’m very happy to hear it. I still don’t know Dean’s positions on copyright and technology issues but I’m very glad that the two of you are in contact, and that he’s guest blogging.

  • http://www.scripting.com/ Dave Winer

    Welcome, nice to see a presidential candidate who has something to say. And thanks to Lessig for beating the drum for citizen journalism.

  • http://blog.krisscraig.com Kriss Craig

    This is great news. Every time I hear another speech of Dean’s, I get more excited about his campaign. This will be an excellent forum to get to know a little more about him perhaps in a more informal manner.

    Thanks to Lessig for making this happen! (And hope the vacation is great!)

  • http://www.imaginaryplanet.net/weblogs/idiotprogrammer/index.php Robert Nagle

    Here’s a post I made about the idea of candidates plogging for president? .

  • http://weblog.stanton-finley.org/ Stan Finley

    This is unprecedented and fantastic. This is the type of town square dialog that we�ve been missing. This is where the people have a chance to yank this country by the grassroots back from the radical right and the global corporate hegemony and return it to a semblance of a constitutional society. This is where Democracy emerges. All aboard the cluetrain folks.

  • Hank

    I’ve never visited this site before, but I’m thrilled with finding out how Dean’s going to approach these issues. It’s a touchy issue, however, with very polarized views. It’s risky to take one side or the other, so I won’t be too hard on Bat Man if he waffles a little.

  • http://passthelove.com Andrew Triboletti

    This is one of the coolest things I’ve heard of in awhile. I’ll really be looking forward to it.

  • http://thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/365235275 paul revere

    Pharmacy boycott to repeal HR 1 S 1 The Medicare Prescription Drug Law

    Boycott Eckerd Drug Stores and CVS Drug Stores in order to effect the Repeal of the bad Medicare prescription drug law and replace it with a prescription drug benefit as part of Medicare Part B with no means test, no coverage gap, no extra premium and no extra deductible and cover 80 percent of medications just like doctors visits get covered. Call Eckerd Drug stores and CVS drug stores and demand they ask the House and Senate do as we ask or the drug chains will lose our business. Please tell others of this boycott. Thank you.

    Pass the word to seniors groups and disabled groups as well as people generally. Let the economic civil disobedience BEGIN!

    Disclaimer: We make no evaluation of the quality of these chains products.


  • http://www.kilgore-systems.com/x/runciter/index.php Joe Chip

    Outstanding. I’m a supporter of Dr. Dean, and seeing him pinch-hitting for Dr. Lessig just makes me all the more sure that this is the guy I want as our next elected! president.

  • http://baylink.pitas.com Jay R. Ashworth

    I find it a touch interesting that I found out about this from BoingBoing before I found out about it on *the campaign’s own weblog* (http://www.blogforamerica.com)…

    but who knows; maybe they didn’t want him swamped, which is a likely outcome.

    Oh, well; presidents need to know how to triage. :-)

    Thanks, Larry.
    – j
    Communications Wonk
    Steering Committee
    Pinellas for Dean, FL

  • http://www.bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Does anyone but me think it’s interesting that our tax dollars are going to be subsidizing the campaign of Howard Dean through his guest-blogger spot on Lessig’s Stanford U. blog?

    I don’t have a problem with it (as long as George W. gets equal time), I just think it’s an interesting use of public money.

  • http://www.raise-your-hands.org Kevin Thurman

    Dean will be getting your money from Matching funds too. PLus candidates go to Universities that recieve federal monday to speak all the time and not given equal time. For instance while I was working for Gore in 2000 Bradley came to Fordham University Gore was not invited, neither was McCain or Bush or Keyes.

    Thanks Prof. lessig this will be itneresting though I wouold like to point out even with one post a day if Gov. Dean himself blogs, that will be as much as he has posted on hsi own blog. Also if he blogs about policy, it will be the first time.

  • http://dijest.com/aka Phil Wolff

    What questions should a commons-concerned citizen ask presidential candidates?

  • http://e-town.blogspot.com/ peter jung

    Prof. Lessig,

    Thanks much for providing airtime to Howard Dean on your blog. It occurred to me today that my support for his candidacy is due in part to his policy positions, but also it’s about having a sense that Dean is the guy who is invigorating our anemic political culture. I’ve been politically active for 35 years, but have never felt so engaged and motivated, and I suspect the same is true for a lot of other Americans.

  • http://www.clowntech.com Ramin

    Outstanding! There are a *lot* of people (especially in the San Francisco Bay Area) who will be interested to hear the Governor’s opinions on intellectual property and cyberlaw. I hope he takes advantage of this forum to tell us his thoughts and get direct feedback.

    A lot of techies and creative folks out here would be tickled pink if the Governor even knew what Eldred was about (let alone have an opinion on it (:-)

  • http://uncorked.org/medley/ Medley

    The Dean campaign staff is doing a good job running a townsquare-style atmosphere at the campaign’s official weblog http://www.blogforamerica.com. Very ad hoc, but the threads are constantly abuzz — it’s an excellent window into the participatory campaign they’re trying to run. Also important to note is that Dean didn’t really go to the Internet, the Internet came to him (Joe Trippi can say more about this) and Dean and his staff immediately seized on the opportunity and recognized its potential.

  • http://ethanol.blogspot.com Evan

    Richard, Stanford is a private university. I suppose it probably receives public grant money for research, and no doubt plenty of students get Pell grants, but I doubt if any government money pays (other than indirectly) for the good professor’s blog server.

  • Christopher D. Felton

    Seriously, Bush blogging! It will probably happen, not by him. However, I would like to see his spelling.

  • jerry

    The last vacation alone for awhile…?

    If I read between the lines correctly, then Congrats. (I assume you will not be releasing this bit of IP into the public domain….)

  • Chris Yu

    I think this is a bizarre occurrence (guest blogging, not just Lessig taking vacation :). First, it offers a tacit endorsement of Dean from Lessig without knowing his views on cyber-freedom issues. Second, it doesn’t help the public learn anything new about Howard Dean. As many have already pointed out, he already has a blog–it’s just that he doesn’t choose to post anything himself or comment on things that would help us get to know him better.

    If offered, I wonder if John Edwards or even George W, would take this opportunity. It would be amazing to learn more about how they respond to day to day news stories, what they find interesting, and the such.

    All in all, learning more about presidential candidates is great, regardless of the medium. It just seems like there are better ways to do this.

  • Dara McLoughlin

    Well, if it makes a difference, here is one person who has just discovered that there was a debate about copyright law, who wouldn’t have, had I not found Professor Lessig’s site by looking up Howard Dean. I hope he gets your support. You guys certainly have mine. Power to the People!

  • Funksaw

    I’m Howard Dean. (Well, no, I’m not, but I’m… I’m doing a hypothetical conjecture here.)

    So anyway, I’m Howard Dean. I know that potentially, there’s a big voting bloc of people who want to be able to use P2P and support copyright reform.

    But I also know that I’m a member of the Democratic party and need soft money to wage an effective campaign. Much of that comes from Big Media.

    How do I endorse the values of copyright reform, without actually SAYING I endorse copyright reform?

    Maybe by getting an implied endorsement from a copyright reformer…

  • Joseph Lieberman

    Can I please have a look at your traffic logs for the past 48 hours? Thanks! BTW, I hate DMCA laws and I love Linux on the XBox.

  • Joseph Lieberman

    Funksaw has a great point… note taken. I, too, like Dr. Lessig.

  • brevity

    Funksaw: can you reduce the number of hypotheticals and counter-factuals in your theory to three or less? Lessig’s blog would not directly affect P2P voting blocs even if they existed.

    I expect Dean is interested in Lessig’s blog as a form of targeting opinion leaders. People interested in the media or the tech industry watch Lessig pretty closely.

    So I expect him to generically introduce himself, his main issues, and say “I’m here to listen.” Which is perfectly okay, the man’s trying to take on a lot of big issues already, he doesn’t need more on his plate.

    If Dean starts talking specifics in an open manner, or even takes a stance on so-called “intellectual property” — color me flabbergasted.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    Have a great vacation, Prof. Lessig. I created a picture in honor of the guest blogger.

  • David

    Why doesn’t the Dean campaign simply buy some ad-space on Lessig’s site? More honest, that way…

  • Hank Lacey

    I join those who are pleased that Governor Dean will offer his insights on Professor Lessig’s site. But I do not think it as crucial for Gov. Dean to share his views on copyright reform right now. As another commentator said, it will be important for the nominee of the Democratic Party to have financial support from the media industries. The good doctor seems to be a very intelligent guy; I am sure he will quickly come to understand, if he doesn’t already, that DMCA is not a particularly workable solution to the policy dilemma involving music trading, etc.

    BTW, this is my first time visiting here. Hope to be back often.

  • http://www.trelane.net Andrew Kirch

    Despite what so many bleeding heart liberals claim, most Republicans in Washington do a poor job of representing their constituency. The party hierarchy seems to have forgotten that the people put them in office, and not the corporations whose pockets they sleep in. I myself am a Republican, I support George W Bush, our armed forces overseas, and our efforts in the War against Terror (Terra – ed.) . My problem lies in the Congress. I note obviously that the major copyright aberrations have been started in major part by Democrats, but in the end it was spun as and became a Republican issue in the interests of bi-partisanship. Always beware bi-partisanship, it basically means that today both parties intend to screw you, instead of the usual one. And having forgotten what my point was here I’ll leave you with these musings until another day.

  • http://www.bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Right, Andrew dude, Hollywood owns the Berman/Waxman LA County Democratic machine, and said machine does their dirty work on the Hill. Never forget that that Hollywood caters to the left because that’s where the empty heads are.

  • cat

    What can you say after that?

  • sayke

    funksaw – as howard dean is not accepting any soft money from anyone, period, we need not worry about his reliance upon big media’s soft money. feel free to reread that if you want to – dean is showing the world that soft money is not needed to wage an effective campaign =)

    so, this means he’s actually free to court the music-sharing vote without undercutting his campaign too much! w00t =D

  • P. Tatham

    I’m looking forward to reading Howard Dean. As a Canadian I don’t want to trample in someone else’s garden but I await the next US presidential election with great anticipation, with the hope that someone of intelligence like Dean will be able to step in and replace the White House shrubbery.

  • http://www.daviddlewis.com Dave Lewis

    My wife’s hero is Dean and mine is Lessig. Never occurred to me in a million years these worlds would intersect! I find myself hoping against hope that Dean will come a rational position on IP issues, though not clear there’s a political advantage in talking about IP at all.

  • Wally

    I’m 75 years old and spend 5-6 hours a day reading anything and everything about Howard Dean. I’ve never been so thrilled about an upcoming election. My question to all you techies out there is ‘how do you get the Howard Dean message out to the average couch potato so as to get him/her out to vote’? It won’t be by arguing copyright law.

  • http://www.wiggedout.com Jim in Arizona

    Unless he’s changed dramatically since his years as Governor, Dr. Dean will use this forum not so much to pontificate, but to learn. I have never known him to make up his mind without first studying all sides of an issue, consulting with all stake-holders. Let’s use this as an opportunity to enlighten him, if he hasn’t already been enlightened. Then, we can hope that additional candidates will become guest bloggers so that we can enlighten them as well. (I may live in Arizona now, but I was a Vermonter for a very long time).

  • http://www.kalilily.net Elaine of Kalilily

    I’m an old-time blogger (in both age and duration), an independent voter, and a Dean supporter. I’m looking forward to seeing how this experiment with Dean-as-guest-blogger is going to work as a vehicle for true diaglogue. I, too, have been diappointed that his own blog does not function that way.

  • Gershon Bialer

    I’m thrilled Howard Dean’s campaign has excited so many people. However, I was bit disappointed after seeing his blog that his website has very little on the issues; He should have another blog or at least comment features on the issue pages. Anyway, I guess this should be a good start for him.

  • Kerry ’04

    Will Howard Dean reveal to us why he removed his gubernatorial papers for the public recod right before he decided to run for president? Citizens for open government would like know!

  • isaac

    Wally: this is just my view, and its a bit wishy, but i think
    the most effective way to express your point of vew is simply
    talking about it with people you know. Talking with friends and
    family about your views, and perhaps how you think dean
    could make a difference may just be enough to get them out thier to vote.

  • chattering jon

    Wally, I love your post. I was also brought here for being a news-googling Dean scholar. It’s amazing how people are using the net to do political research today. We’ll have more well-informed voters next year, that much is certain. To answer your question – How do you get your respect for a candidate communicated to all the couch potatoes out there? When you go out, repeat the first two sentences of your post to anyone who asks how you’ve been. Wear a Dean t-shirt if you want to steer the conversation that way, or if you want to strike up conversations with strangers while you run errands. Your respect and careful consideration of his candidacy will pre-dispose anyone to give him a closer look. Keep reading everything and anything about him five to six hours a day if this pleases you, and, when you mingle with the undecided, share what you’ve gained from your research. The net is a great medium for a candidate to spread his message, but word-of-mouth is the best medium, and, in the end, the only medium that really matters.


    P.S. Dr. Lessig, I’m a first-time visitor to this blog and I’ll be back every day next week to read what’s posted. I’m glad I learned about the site. I love the OTR mp3 on the public domain. Thanks for sharing that.

  • Funksaw

    Wally: My particular problem is that my circle of family and friends tend to be one-issue voters.

    My cousin Marian supports Bush knowing full well the problems he’s caused and the civil rights he’s violated, because he’s anti-abortion, which makes it all “okay.” Here’s a particularly enlightening quote: “Sure, thousands of people died in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but how many children are murdered each year in abortions?” Well, gee, I don’t know, Marian – how many of those fetuses will be avenged by a guy strapping a bomb to their body – considerably less, I would imagine. (although it does happen…)

    My Dad would love Dean. He’s also a one-issue voter – his issue is gun-control. Here’s a guy who got an A+ from the NRA, but I can’t wrap it around his head that Democrat > pro-gun control.

    So it’s very frustrating to constantly hit the wall here. Most netizens (usually the better informed and more well-read ones) end up being pro-Dean. But let’s face it, we’re an intellectual elite. Most people are too stupid to vote for anyone but the candidate either their daddy voted for, or the candidate that can buy up the most TV time.

    A Bush election in November 2004 means a Funksaw move to Canada in December 2004.

  • http://ourpla.net/cgi/pikie John Abbe

    So when does Dennis Kucinich get to guest weblog here? Well, maybe he doesn’t need to — after all, he actually writes his own! (granted he has gone missing recently) http://www.denniskucinich.us/index.php?topic=blog

    Difference between Dean & Kucinich: http://www.bobharris.com/kucinichdean.html

    (sorry Larry, couldn’t let Dean keep seeming like the only blog-aware candidate :-)

  • http://www.bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Most netizens (usually the better informed and more well-read ones) end up being pro-Dean. But let�s face it, we�re an intellectual elite.

    America is in serious trouble if “netizens” are an intellectual elite.

  • Daniel Vivian

    America’s troubles likely do no stem from the hubris of its netizens.

  • Daniel Vivian

    …or the spelling prowess of its netizens, thankfully.

  • http://www.halleyscomment.blogspot.com Halley Suitt

    Bon Voyage Lessigs and Bienvenue Dean! The plot thickens …

  • http://notoriousblog.com Jeff McCune

    That should prove very interesting. What a great idea.

  • Ed Batewell

    I think Dean’s listening skills will win this election (and ultimately the world’s respect as an American President.) .

    He is running as a Democrat, but the man is hard to define as merely left or right. He’s fiscally very conservative but socially liberal, and favors a multilateral approach and diplomacy in foreign relations. Dean enjoys a 100% rating from the NRA, and insists on balanced budgets (mind you, he is running as a “Democrat”). As Governor of Vermont, he often took up politically unpopular positions like civil unions, because of his fairness in extending equal rights to all Americans. He considers prisons to be the least effective and most expensive way to deal with some of the nation’s domestic problems. He has never lost an election in Vermont. He’s already got my vote and support by virtue of his healthcare plan alone, as Dean’s plan to make healthcare affordable to all Americans actually makes sense, and I believe it can be passed in Congress, even a Republican one. Dean is uniquely qualified as the only candidate who is a medical doctor, as Governor he accomplished 96% coverage of children under 18 in Vermont.

    Now if Wesley Clark is his veep, we’d have a dream ticket. :-)

  • http://www.chachacha.co.uk James

    If Dean really is going to post here (and I’d like to see some pictures of him logging in, or something – can’t have him being ‘fisked’ before he’s even in office), this could make the art of blogging even huger that it already is – and this site will be in for major amounts of traffic. You’ll break the blogdexx record for the number of links to your site, anyway – I’m sure of it.

  • http://www.jzip.org/ adamsj

    Richard Bennett said:

    America is in serious trouble if �netizens� are an intellectual elite

    Yes–especially the “netizens” who don’t know the difference between a private university and a public one. Or is that your subtle way of admitting you made a mistake earlier with that silly-ass shoot-from-the-hip remark about public funds?

    By the way, Richard, i appreciate it when you say:

    Never forget that that Hollywood caters to the left because that�s where the empty heads are.

    I’m still kicking myself for mistaking George W. Bush for a drunken fratboy, when he was just an ideologue with a funny way of talking. I figure we on the left lost two years on the guy, easy, because we underestimated him.

    So keep up with the prejudices–as George Carlin might say, “Drink up, Shriner!”"–I’d rather have you be the dummy this time around.

  • http://dean4az.blogspot.com Michael Bryan

    I find few of these responses wonderfully amusing. If you are concerned about Stanford possibly indirectly contributing government money to Dean’s campaign via use of Lessig’s blog, as is Richard Bennet, you should be more concerned that we may need to give Dean, and the other Democratic candidates, several hundred thousand dollars from the Health and Human Services Department budget to equal what Bush has stolen from the public fisc to defray his campaig expenses incurred on behalf of GOP Congressmen. Of course, there is also the millions it costs to crew, maintain, staff, and purchase Air Force 1 and the other Presidential aircraft the President buzzes around on to thinly disguised campaign stops at tax payer expense. If this particular rhetorical coffin needs further nails, feel free to write :)

    If you wish a glimpse at what a Bush blog might look like, visit The POTUS blog. I find it an illuminating glimpse inside the power politics and personalities of our current White House. Much tastier than Comedy Central’s late, unlamented That’s My Bush.

    But seriously, Dean has, of course, posted to the official campaign blog, so Dean’s posting to a blog is certainly not unprecedented, not even very exciting. What is exciting is Dean deliberately seeking a highly knowledgeable and highly critical constituency via Lessig’s blog. If one had to choose a single site as the beating heart of criticism of what is wrong with the way government interacts with the internet, you would be hard pressed to choose better than Lessig’s blog. It is you, the audience, Dean wants.

    Dean will not presume to teach you anything about the internet with his guest blogging. He’s a doctor and politician, not a geek. You will see many more questions from him than answers. What we are seeing here is a Presidential candidate who has decided to seek a crash education on government policy and the internet, on the internet, and from the people best able to give it to him: geeks. Such willingness to put himself in the line of fire of some of the best minds in the field displays great intellectual courage and tremendous confidence in us, his constituents, to be his foils, his educators, and his policy team. The reason people don’t know Dean’s positions on many of the issues which concern us is because he doesn’t yet have any worth mentioning – we are still 6 months from the earliest primaries, after all. This guest-blog is likely to be his deepest education on these topics to date and will likely help him form the very opinions, if not the very policies, he will carry into the battle for the Presidency. He knows that the positions many of you advocate are tested by intense peer scrutiny (unlike the product of most think-tanks these days), tested in the market place, yet leavened by the insights of technologists and philosophers. I hope every geek in the realm will be pounding madly at their keyboards to help educate Dean. What you say here may well find it’s way into the policies advocated by a Dean Administration. You may be educating our future President, the first Internet President; don’t let your President down.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Note being Internet-savvy does not guarantee being elected. Remember what happened to Al Gore (who, contrary to myth, understood the Internet very well, and deserves to be recognized for having done notable Congressional work on helping it become what it is today – and he did not claim to have “invented” it)

    But as I think about this, I’m bothered by something. To put it as a pop-cliche, “What does God need with a starship?”. Or, more prosaically, WHY does a presidential candidate be a guest-blogger?

    People write blogs for a mixture of reasons (these aren’t exhaustive or exclusive):

    1) To write about their life (gossip, friends)
    2) To write about their ideas (lawyers, policy-makers, columnist punditry)
    3) To write about other’s ideas (portals, reporting punditry)

    Where does this guest-appearance fit? Is it thought of by the Dean campaign as akin to doing a talk-show? “You’re on TV with Oprah at 2, Radio with Larry King at 5, and in-between, an Internet guest-shot on The Lessig Blog.”

    There’s nothing wrong with that. And I suppose it’s a milestone of sorts when candidates make appearances, an indication of campaign worthiness.

    But then it mean much less than many people think it does. Not zero, but much closer to zero (another media appearance) than infinity (revolutionary democracy by Internet blogging).

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Mr. Bryan, if Howard Dean is learning about Internet policy from Lawrence Lessig, I’m impressed. If he’s going to attempt to learn about Internet policy from BLOG COMMENTS, then either you’re doing a snow-job on us, or I question his sanity.

  • http://dean4az.blogspot.com Michael Bryan

    Heh, good point, Seth. But I don’t think Dean would be doing this just as a lark or a publicity stunt. I do tend to over-dramatize, but Dean is after data. Responses to his proposed policies, testing of his arguments and rhetoric, new ideas, and new directions. One thing I’m pretty sure Dean never does is underestimate the public’s intelligence; especially when that public follows Professor Lessig’s musing with great interest. Additionally, Lessig’s blog is gonna get slashdotted for the duration. There will be A LOT of brain cells focused on anything he says, and any question he poses.

  • http://www.bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Netizen news flash: even private colleges like Stanford take federal funds, and are therefore required to abide by federal regulations such as Title IX. You can look it up.

    As to Dean’s policy positions, I think they’re pretty well known from the speeches he gives Wednesday nights on NBC, and they’re been developed with the help of his doctor wife Abbie, his press secretary C. J., his chief of staff Leo, and Josh Lyman and all those other folks. (Oh, wait – that’s the pugnacious, arrogant, and diminutive former governor of the OTHER New England state, Jed Bartlett, so never mind, my mistake. Dean is obviously reaching out for the Elle Woods vote.)

  • http://www.jzip.org/ adamsj

    Let’s do a diff on Richard’s comments:


    Does anyone but me think it�s interesting that our tax dollars are going to be subsidizing the campaign of Howard Dean through his guest-blogger spot on Lessig�s Stanford U. blog?

    I don�t have a problem with it (as long as George W. gets equal time), I just think it�s an interesting use of public money.


    Netizen news flash: even private colleges like Stanford take federal funds, and are therefore required to abide by federal regulations such as Title IX. You can look it up.

    Okay, Richard–there are the two disconnected dots of your argument. Now connect them: Show me the federal funds paying for this blog. In particular, show them in a way that makes your “as long as George W. gets equal time” comment make sense.

    While you’re at it, explain to me why you don’t say this about every appearance in every campus newspaper or on every campus radio station by any politician. Or do you? I think it would be absurd to do so, but maybe you do.

    Or were you just taking a cheap shot? That’s what I figure.

    P.S. I’m neither a Dean supporter nor an opponent. I just think this was a cheap shot.

  • Anonymous

    I look forward to Howard Dean’s appearance here. I hope that it really DOES mean he will be “listening” to the copyright issues that we the people are VERY concerned about… If he ends up taking/leaning tword the side of the TRUE musicians (mostly us independents) and of the music fans against the “evil oligopoly”, he will end up secure in my vote and that of many other musicians!

    Shmoo, of Electric Gypsy

    Support Local and Independent Music!

  • Manu


    Your comment about Al Gore, although true, deserves clarification. I saw the spot on TV where he supposedly stated he “invented” the Internet. I’ll agree with you that he didn’t actually state it, however, it was a very, very poor choice of words. The exact quote is:

    “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”

    I know he was trying to be brief, but here, he should have rephrased it so it didn’t give the impression that he was taking credit for creating it. It would have saved him from a lot of unnecessary flak.

  • Jeffrey J. Hoover

    Wow. All this and Mr. Dean hasn’t posted a word. I hope he has a chance to read the comments so that he has an idea of what he’s signed in for.

    This should prove interesting, but I hope it doesn’t dissolve into the bickering that some of these comments reflect.

  • http://www.jzip.org/ adamsj


    You have a point, though I don’t believe anyone gets to a position of political power if he or she is bothered by a little bickering. I suspect I’ve read more into Richard’s comments than he meant, and suspect the discussion could’ve been better served had I cooled my jets a little.

    Not sure if you meant me or not,


  • http://blogs.salon.com/0001137/ Dave Cullen


    If you’re interested in staying up-to-date on News coverage of Dean, I maintain a site linking and archiving all the major news stories (about 3 dozen) each day/night.

    It’s called “NEWS COVERAGE OF DEAN” (formerly “Media on Dean”) at:


    Each entry lists the paper/wire/station, headline, key text and link.

    Latest entries in the past hour include Howie Kurtz: “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” MSNBC presenting both “The Democrats ‘ Iraq opportunity,” and in another piece asking, “Is Democratic presidential contender Rep. Dennis Kucinich more of a blessing or a curse for his rival Howard Dean?”

  • Anonymous

    Kerry ’04 -

    It’s common practice to seal records. Note that everything he has DONE as a governor is public record – you can’t seal what the press has already reported on. What’s been sealed is who-said-what-when-and-to-whom, which is really common sense when running for office. In today’s attack-ad campaigns, any random quote can easily be taken out of context and used against you.


  • Kerry �04

    Well if the peess has reported on “everything” that Dean did as Governor, Dean shouldn’t have a reason to seal his records. Sounds like there is something that “The Press” didn’t have access to and Dean doesn’t want it to be public. Even Bush’s gubernatorial papers are available to the public for review. What is Dean hiding?

    This is supposed to be a man of the people…

  • weimdog


    A real life socialist who’s running for President. I never thought I’d see the day. Halleluja!

    Dr. Dean is just what this country needs.

    Out with the Constitution and in with the Little Red Book. Mao would be so proud.