July 29, 2003  ·  Lessig

The Pet Rock Stars have completed two songs from the blogathon. As previously reported, the work in progress, and the final songs were posted under a Creative Commons license. Within a day, their creativity has sparked other creativity. Erik Ostrom has posted a cover of Southdown, one of the two songs the Pet Rock Stars wrote. Here are the two songs Shannon Campbell and Scott Andrew wrote: Southdown and Nothing New. Here’s Scott’s take on all this re-creativity. And here is the song Erik Ostrom made: Stork Carpets.

July 27, 2003  ·  Lessig

This is a great story about the creativity possible when control is relaxed. Whenever I read these stories, I have an odd dejavu to the days of Gorbachev: The Soviet Union would relax its controls, and people would write stories about how freedom actually increased innovation and creativity. The Soviet officials were amazed and surprised. But what’s amazing to me is that we’re surprised when we learn the same thing here.

UPDATE: I was whining about something re the Times that Dave Winer has solved. I apologize.

July 26, 2003  ·  Lessig

So after the FUD about the FEC, EFF’s Marc Perkel has volunteered to host lessig.org and my blog. Thanks to all things EFF and especially Marc, and thanks to Jake Wachman and Patrick Berry for the extraordinary effort moving the site. Please update your links, if you want to keep following the thread, to http://lessig.org/blog, and RSS is here.

More on the FEC after I catch up, but thanks to Marc, Jake and Patrick again.

July 21, 2003  ·  Lessig

I’m almost back after a week away (we’re moving this week so I’m not really back till the 28th), but I wanted to thank the Governor for visiting. I have read his posts, and the couple by his campaign, and have just begun to go through the comments.

The appearance by Governor Dean here has created lots of excitement, some stir, and a bit of anger. I’ve been requested by the University to move my blog to a personal server, which is fine and right given FEC regulations. I’ve been asked by many (and especially supporters of Senator Edwards) whether Dean’s appearance means an endorsement.

But that’s just what was perfect about how this week happened. The Dean campaign asked for no endorsement. Indeed, they asked for nothing save the right to substitute if the Governor didn’t have a chance to post. Rather than the drama of an irrelevant endorsement, this week instead was a chance to expand the places a candidate visits in a campaign for public office. It is better than a house, better than a town hall, better than anything on TV. And imho, more candidates should do it regularly.

I invited Dean in particular because so much of the success of his campaign has come from those who spend time on the Internet, and I suggested that the mix who spent time at my blog had a valuable set of insights that might be useful to understanding the issues that rage on these pages.

But as I’ve said before, these issues are not the central issues of a presidential campaign (yet, anyway). And necessarily, any attention a presidential campaign gives to these issues will be for the purpose of learning. No one launches a campaign for President in 2004 with the aim to “free culture” or limit the excesses of creative regulation. These issues are important. Every administration will have to address them. But they do not yet define a campaign or its message. (We’ll see about 2008.)

So obviously, I would be honored to have other candidates take a week here if they want. But whether it is here or elsewhere, every serious candidate should spend time in just such an open, egalitarian place. Everyone now recognizes that the leading Democratic candidate is the leading candidate in part because of how his message spreads in places like this. They should all find places where they can do the same — unprotected by handlers, exposed to many with strong and deep knowledge of a subject, and open to fair criticism. Let there be one week on a blog for every five choreographed “town halls”, and we’ll begin to see something interesting.

Neutrality aside, though, Governor Dean has earned a special respect. Of course there are issues on which I would disagree with anyone. But I have been struck in reading these posts, and the passion they inspired. They revive a feeling I had as a kid — that ideas could matter, and that there could be people who would make them matter.

They matter here not so much because of the detail of any response, but because of the willingness to carry a message to places like this, and because of the effect these places have on those who spend time in them. If I’ve learned anything as I’ve watched places like this, it is that the best strategy is always simply to say what is right and true, trolls notwithstanding.

Our democracy needs more of this. It needs more candidates spending time in places like this. I am therefore grateful to the Governor for taking the lead. We should all be grateful, our personal politics notwithstanding, if more follow.

July 20, 2003  ·  Lessig

John Gilmore wrote Declan a letter about an extraordinary measure of our times. Gist: John was wearing a “Suspected Terrorist” button on a flight to London. BA turned the airplane around on the ground and returned to the terminal to enable the captain to eject him. Read the full story.

July 18, 2003  ·  admin

On the road, I�ve seen the power the Internet has to bring people together. In Austin recently, 3,200 people showed up for a rally�an experience that I found absolutely amazing. In Santa Fe, 2,000 people showed up, and in Seattle and Tucson, thousands showed up. All of these rallies were organized over the Internet. Only a few years ago building such an event would have taken months of preparation and a huge field staff. Today, it can be done online, and mostly by volunteers.

I think that is a demonstration of how the Internet can help us restore active participation in our democracy. But in order to include everyone in the process, we need to expand net access to rural areas and to the inner city. Currently, too many minorities and rural residents are on the wrong side of the “digital divide.”

As governor of Vermont, I made expanding internet access a priority. Vermont is a national leader, with over 99% of our schools connected to the Internet. In rural states like Vermont, the Internet can make a real difference by providing telemedicine and telework opportunities, as well as distance learning.

As a community that actively discusses these issues, I�m interested in your opinions on how to best bridge the digital divide. The US ranks 11th in the world on broadband penetration. How do we bring broadband to more people in the most cost-effective manner? What role will WiFi play? I understand that the emerging technology of WiFi may make it easier to bridge the digital divide. What would your recommendations be?

Once again, I�d like to thank Larry Lessig for inviting me this week, and I appreciate your feedback. Stay involved. Help us widen the circle. We are going to restore the American community�online and off�by working together. Thanks again, Howard Dean

July 17, 2003  ·  admin

Governor Dean won’t be able to post today due to scheduling, and Joe Trippi is still on an airplane, so it looks like he won’t either. Thanks for all your comments — every visitor here is welcome over at Blog for America, our official campaign blog. The conversation here is riveting.

Tomorrow is Governor Dean’s last day here, so feel free to keep making suggestions and hashing it out in this thread. We’re all big Lessig fans on the Internet Team, and it has been, as many have said, an historic week. Lessig quotes EFF founder Mitch Kapor as saying “Architecture is politics.” For me, what is so powerful about this campaign is how the Internet is completely changing the architecture of politics. We talk alot about how the energy and momentum is bottom-up, but I think what sometimes gets lost is how the innovation is bottom-up and person-to-person as well (or e2e as Lessig might say). The results of self-organizing are not only more people, but more ideas about how to do local politics. The idea of sending 30,000 letters to Iowa at the last Dean Meetup came from the grassroots, and that has been reported. What hasn’t been reported is that most of the Dean flyers that people are passing out at farmers markets and summer fairs around the country are put together by grassroots organizers working through the Net. Independently of the official campaign, a Seattle group thinks of a flyer idea, which a New York group designs, which they circulate through the Dean listservs, which gets stapled to a Bulletin Board in Missouri by a group of Dean supporters who met through the Internet. A Georgia group designs “Dean Cards,” which are now spreading around the country. 10 years ago, so many of these ideas would have stayed just that — the person with the flyer idea would have turned to her spouse, mentioned the idea, and gone to work. Now that same “mention” – except through the Net – can lead to tens of thousands of flyers all over the country. We’ve still got a long way to go in terms of building an architecture that allows even more person to person to group connections – and the resulting innovation – but what’s amazing about this campaign (from the inside) is how Joe Trippi and the entire campaign is not only willing to allow that innovation to thrive, but believes it is essential to restoring our democracy.

Zephyr Teachout
Internet Team, Dean for America

July 16, 2003  ·  admin

I recognize that the blog entries have been quick. I�m new to blogging, a little tired, and have been on the road. This is the first time this week where I�ve had a little more time to really sit down and digest some of the comments.

I’m really impressed by the candor on this blog, and the complexity of the discussions.

Someone asked which parts of the Patriot Act I thought were unconstitutional. I have real problems authorizing the FBI to obtain library and bookstore and video store records simply by claiming the information is “sought for” an investigation against international terrorism. It’s also clearly unconstitutional to detain indivduals and deny them access to a lawyer.

As to Digitial Millenium Copyright Act and other copyright issues, we’re still developing a policy on these items. I appreciate everything you have had to say on these issues, and encourage you to continue to tell my campaign how you feel we should best address these complex issues.

Finally, one of you asked if there would be a White House blog. Why not?

Thanks again, Howard Dean