November 27, 2011  ·  Lessig

I’ve got three kids — two boys (8 and 5), and a girl (2). We regulate their access to technology (not sure why, or how best, but we try). And we want to find excellent Apps (in both Chrome and for iPad/Pods), appropriate to their ages. 

So why isn’t it easy to filter based on age? It isn’t helpful to be told that there are tens of thousands of “education” apps. Why can’t I see those appropriate for a 5 year old? Or 8 year old? Then maybe sorted by ratings? 

This seems so obvious I’m sure I’m missing something, but seriously: Why isn’t this easier? 

November 27, 2011  ·  Lessig

Thanks for your call, which I am sorry I was not able to accept. But after many too many contributions to candidates for Congress, I have adopted an absolute rule: 

I will not consider making a contribution to your campaign for Congress unless you commit absolutely and prominently to support reforms to end the corrupting influence of money in Congress.

“Absolutely and prominently” means this is the thrust of your campaign: One of the first things you mention, the issue you come back to again and again, and the issue you use to explain every other issue. Buddy Roemer is the best example of this. If you’re Roemer-like, then I will consider contributing to your campaign. 

That is a necessary condition. It isn’t sufficient. I don’t have a great deal of personal wealth. But if you can certify you qualify as a #rootstriker, I am happy to consider contributing, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, and happy to share that fact with others. 

Good luck with the campaign. The institution you seek to serve within was the crown jewel of our Framers. It has since been badly tarnished. I hope you can commit to restoring it. 

November 23, 2011  ·  Lessig

I’m looking for an app that will take a bunch of files (ideally, html), index them, and then produce a cross-platform stand-alone database app, so I could distribute all the files and the app on a thumb drive, and someone could use it to search on the files. (And don’t ask why. It’s TOP SECRET.)

Is there such a thing? Kind of redundant with OS functionality, I realize, but the HTML is well ordered so ideally there would be fields here. 

Thanks in advance. 


November 23, 2011  ·  Lessig

So I’ve gotten a bunch of requests from people for signed copies of my books. (Seriously, like at least 14 million so far  and counting). At first it seemed like a cumbersome thing to arrange, but we’ve figured out a relatively simple way to do this. 

Here it is: If you’d like a signed copy of any of my books (but I’m hoping, especially, my new book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It (Twelve, 2011)), then: 

  1. Locate the Amazon price.
  2. Add $3.50 for postage (US, for one book; if you need foreign or more, email first and we’ll calculate it)
  3. Paypal (commerce(at)lessig(dot)org) me that amount, with (a) an address you want it shipped to and (b) the inscription you want.
  4. And smile, knowing your book is (sort of quickly) on its way!

November 22, 2011  ·  Lessig

The world is underestimating the potential potential of Americans Elect. This project is building a virtual delegate base that will then select a presidential candidate who, I bet, will (because of the extraordinary work of the organization) be on every single state ballot.

There is real potential here. They are beginning to surface reform issues better — not perfectly, but better. And this could become an important vehicle for focusing the reform issue — if, at least, the delegates so agree. 

So who are the delegates? Rootstrikers, got some extra clicks? 

November 21, 2011  ·  Lessig

So it’s flattering to be missed, @JeffRoberts. Thank you for that. You’re right, I am not at the center of the SOPA fight (though obviously a strong supporter). Here’s a couple sentences why. 

First, and again, this is a critical battle to wage and win. SOPA is just the latest, but in  many ways, the most absurd campaign in the endless saga of America’s copyright wars. It will be yet another failed attempt in a failed war, and I obviously believe it should be opposed. 

But second, and as you describe, this isn’t my war anymore. Not because my heart isn’t in it, but because I don’t believe we will win that war (or better, win the peace and move on) — even if we can win battles like this one — until the more basic corruption that is our government gets addressed. That’s the fight I have spent the last 4 years working on. That’s where I’ll be for at least the next 6. 

Third, my going missing here is not something to miss. There is a world of fantastic and powerful new advocates here — my favorites include Fight for the Future and Demand Progress, and the just launched today, StopCensorship.org — and there remains the incredible gaggle of more traditional heros, including EFF and Public Knowledge. More importantly, there are crucial statesmen (and women) who are the rightful leaders on this fight — email Senator Wyden and Congresswoman Lofgren and thank them, please. If I have anything to contribute to these fights, I have contributed it again and again in writing and lectures. My lectures in this space are CC licensed (RSS); my books in this space are CC licensed (Remix, Free Culture, The Future of Ideas, Codev2, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace). When your own writing gets called “derivative“ of your own writing, it is time to move on.  

But fourth: I don’t think it’s fair to call the current project “quixotic and at worst as a Nader-like vanity project.” I’m not running for anything, and I’m not alone in this fight. There is an extraordinary range of powerful souls fighting now for this essential change — from Cenk Ugur’s WolfPAC, to Dylan Ratigan & Jimmy Williams’ GetMoneyOut, to the just launched United Re:Public, to the longstanding work of Americans for Campaign Reform, Public Campaign, Public Citizen and Common Cause. We are all working for the same fundamental change, as we are all convinced that until we achieve that change, this democracy will not work.

Of course, as my book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It (Twelve 2011), describes, this is an insanely difficult, possibly impossible, fight. But whether difficult or not, it is the fight that must be waged.  

For this is what I know: We will never (as in not ever) win the war you care about until we win the war against this corruption of our Republic.

There is only one sacred text in this war: For every thousand hacking at the branches of evil, there is one striking at the root. So, please, Jeff: rally many many souls to those thousands. But please set aside at least some cycles to be one with that one as well.

Rootstrikers. (Republic, Lost: The preso)

November 21, 2011  ·  Lessig

Twenty-seven months ago, I announced the hibernation of my blog. It is with deep deep embarrassment that I confess that for about the last 24 of those 27 months, I have been trying to find a way back. The latest of these efforts has again failed, but I am not going to wait any more. I want a blog again. Someday I may get it back in a form and style that I like. Meanwhile, I will use the magic here at tumblr, and see if I can recruit the help I need to make it something more. 

As I described 27 months ago, a big chunk of the reason I had to fold was the coming of the third child. She has been amazing beyond belief, and her demands on my life have only grown. But a separate cause was the extraordinary burden of protecting the blog from the malcrap that is too much of the Net. Because my site was relatively popular, it was the target of all sort of junk. Hidden in my archive was an endless supply of gambling junk. So bad was it that at one point, Google kicked me off the index. I needed real expertise to manage and protect the site. But all I had was a collection of extremely decent sweet soul-ed volunteers, who could not keep up. 

I had to depend upon volunteers because (a) I am not a corporation, and (b) I don’t have lots of money. But after that failure, I decided I would try to recruit professional web sorts who might be able to do a redesign, and relaunch the site with the right sort of 24/7 protection. Suffice it that this hasn’t worked. I have spent thousands of my own money, endless hours of frustration and failure, and still have no ability to launch a dev.lessig.org with the infrastructure and protection it needs. 

All this is because of an inherent conflict in the emerging reality of the web: Because of the miscreants who make up too much of the web, the free speech enabled the web is costly. Sites need real administrators. Administrators have to eat. Eating costs money. 

Many deal with this reality by serving ads to defray costs. But I never wanted to be in a space where I needed to (or did) worry about whether my words were earning the right number of click throughs. So I have never permitted ads to be a part of my site. But that decision left me in this awkward position where I (a) could not afford to hire 24/7 support, and (b) I had to rely upon good souls as volunteers.

There are, of course, alternatives. I have been writing a lot at Huffington Post largely because it gives me everything I want for writing that is properly, or appropriately, public: It is free, it has amazing web support, I get to write whatever I want, they don’t even give me a way to know how many people read what I write, and so I get the freedom I need at the price I can afford. 

But Huffington Post is not a personal blog. And that’s what I want. There are things I want to be able to write that are not appropriately there, and that take more than 140 characters to say. And that’s what this space will be. 

So, if you’re interested, stay tuned. 

And if you’re a webmaster soul, who might be able to help achieve what I have been unable to do for 24 months, please email me at lessig at pobox dot com. I’ll send you the spec of what I need/want, and you can give me a budget and some confidence you can help. 

Thanks to everyone who has encouraged this return. Just don’t tell my 2 year old daughter, and we should be fine.