December 31, 2008  ·  Lessig

Robert Sand wrote this thesis as an undergraduate at Brown (he is now a law student). Roughly put, it models the effect that the view that “money buys results” has on political participation. The idea he wanted to test is this: that the more you think “money buys results,” the less effective you think your own participation in the political process is, and thus, you participate less. And, by contrast, the less you think “money buys results,” (for example, because of citizen funding of elections), the more effective you think your own participation is, and thus you participate more.

He’s got an enormous range of data for this, and he finds statistically significant results supporting the thesis.

Sand wants to work on this more and eventually publish it. He has included his email address if you’d like to see the data. Obviously, there’s tons more work to be done here to verify and understand the model better. But I wanted to share this here (with his permission) because it is precisely the dynamic at the core of the concern that I am talking about: The expectation of illicit influence drives people to disengage — even if there isn’t any such influence.

If this model stands up, it will be an important contribution to this debate. Whether it does or not, quite a contribution from an undergraduate.

Meanwhile, less than 12 hours to vote on the Citizens’ Funded Elections proposal at At this moment, we need 6 votes to get into the second round.

December 29, 2008  ·  Lessig


While most companies have cut back on their support for the Commons, wonderfully and amazingly, the most constant and forceful support continues — Sun ($50k). We’re now within $12k of making our goal — something that seemed impossible just 2 weeks ago. Massive increase in small time contributors. Thank you to all. And please help put us over the top.

December 24, 2008  ·  Lessig

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Type “Apple Store Chestnut Hill” on your iPhone in Boston, and you get the map on the left. Follow the directions and you end up on a back alley — about a mile from the Apple Store in Chestnut Hill. Frustrated. And cold. And no longer in the holiday spirit.

December 20, 2008  ·  Lessig


Joi Ito’s new book is now available, Free Souls. The book is an amazingly beautiful (since Joi’s the artist) and smart (since Joi knows the subjects) collection of photographs of many souls in the worlds Joi knows. All of the images are freely licensed (CC-BY) and all have signed model releases. So these are souls Joi has set free. As Joi’s site puts it, “A celebration of all the people who are willing to share.”

Still time to order for Christmas

December 20, 2008  ·  Lessig

According to the Wall Street Journal, the RIAA has declared peace in the “copyright wars,” and will stop its suits against individual fileshares. This is important progress.

Above, the latest (and among the last) remixes of this story about Remix, emphasizing especially the call for peace, now.

December 19, 2008  ·  Lessig

Here’s the latest argument for CHANGE (v2). It makes a strong push for “Citizens’ funding of the Nation’s elections.” The idea is being discussed and voted on at

Please support the idea there if you can. I need about 500 279 179 votes to get the idea into round two.

December 16, 2008  ·  Lessig

Fred Benenson’s got a nice piece about the WSJ piece. The most depressing part of this whole cycle was the news that the WSJ was sticking by the story.

On what basis, precisely? The charge that Obama was shifting policy was, and is, completely baseless. The charge that I had “shifted” my position was, and is, completely unsupported (and false). And the charge that Google was violating network neutrality principles has been shown (concisely by David Isenberg, one of the originals in this debate) to be just wrong — no one who understands what “network neutrality” (or what we used to call this before it was smartly marketed, “end-to-end“) is could believe that edge caching services, living in a competitive market, could raise NN concerns.

So they’re sticking by a story that’s baseless, unsupported and wrong. Sounds like we know where the Bushies have gone to work now that they’ve left the White House.

Update: So I’ve just had an email exchange with Christopher Rhodes, one of the authors of the piece. What surprised me most about the piece was that he was such a careful interviewer when we spoke, but that we didn’t really speak about the issue they charged me with — shifting — and I was surprised he didn’t ask or followup on that. Turns out he tried, writing to my assistant, but that I didn’t speak with him. My assistant didn’t know the context of our conversation, so her translation of the question didn’t flag it. My apologies to Rhodes. Had we connected, the story would have been different. The mistake in not connecting was mine, no doubt. And the mistake convinces me that at least with respect to me, the story is a misunderstanding (and not, as suggested, bad faith). Important lesson for me, no doubt. But for others: Please send emails for me to me. I read and respond to every email I get (save the spam-ish sorts). And while I can be behind, if you don’t get a response, I didn’t get it.