February 27, 2009  ·  Lessig


Carl Malamud has launched — and we all should support — a campaign to become head of the GPO. I can’t imagine a more exciting appointment. Sometimes an agency needs STASIS. Sometimes it needs CHANGE. Gov’t tech is certainly in the second category, and no one I know of could more effectively deliver on the commitment to open government than he.

Join the campaign.

January 22, 2009  ·  Lessig

January 20, 2009  ·  Lessig


Here’s my Dopplr report for 2008. My flights were the equivalent of 5.4 Hummers, and I travel as fast as a Kangaroo. I can deploy offsets to deal with the first problem. Not sure what can be done about the second.

Update: So I missed the most troubling feature of this initially. According to Dopplr, I have a much higher velocity and much larger carbon footprint than Obama in 2008. Though he spent more nights away from home (then again, he doesn’t live in California).

January 16, 2009  ·  Lessig


Notice an important new feature in the world of YouTube — a “Click to download” link. YouTube is rolling this out slowly, initially with content that aspires to be consistent with principles of open government. I’m told it will be offered more generally. In any case, it is an important development. There have always been hacks for slurping down YouTube videos. But it is a valuable step that YouTube encourage and support this sharing.

January 14, 2009  ·  Lessig

From the op-ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal by IBM chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano, “Let’s Spend on Broadband and the Power Grid“:

We shouldn’t undertake projects simply for the sake of creating economic activity. Rather than just stimulate, we should transform.

The point could be made more strongly: If we’re lucky, we get the chance for this kind of transformation once a generation. It would be a scandal on the scale of the last 8 years to fritter it away.

January 6, 2009  ·  Lessig

Now that she won’t be my Dean, I am free to say the following. And I am inspired to say the following by my sense that there’s a misperception among some about exactly why Elena Kagan’s appointment is so important.

Everyone knows the Solicitor General is the government’s path to the Supreme Court. But some write as if the job is about arguing in the Supreme Court. That’s a mistake. No doubt, that’s a part, though historically the SG has argued a small percentage of the cases (sometimes as low as 1 or 2 a term).

Much more important is the policymaking function of the office. The SG must decide on the strategy for interacting with the Supreme Court. He or she must decide which issues to push, which to hold back, how to frame the issues, and how best to maintain the (deserved) reputation of the office as a principled expositor of the (administration’s view of the) law.

Having known Elena since I began teaching (she and I started together at Chicago), I can say that I can’t imagine a better choice for this job. Granted, she is not an oral advocate — though again, that’s not the job, and having seen her teach (always at the very top at Harvard and Chicago), I have no doubt she’ll be superb as an oral advocate.

But she knows the administration cold (after years in the Clinton administration, and many more years studying and teaching administrative law), and, more importantly (and extremely rare for an academic), she has an extraordinary ability to productively engage disagreement. That’s the real success from her time at Harvard (I used to think it was impossible to be loved as Dean of Harvard; Elena is loved by everyone). She is a straight talking, brilliant strategist and strong negotiator, who holds herself to insanely high standards. People see that and respect that — one bit to the key of her success.

As one reflects upon the fact that the most entrenched disagreements the Obama administration will face over the next 8 years will be with a conservative Court that doesn’t need to be reelected, it is quickly apparent that the role of the SG is going to be critical. On a list of many (if not all) fantastic appointments by Obama, this one is brilliant. Everyone is saying as much, but few, I think, recognize just how brilliant this is.

December 10, 2008  ·  Lessig

I’m working on a presentation that could really use a Simpsons-esque like section. I emailed Matt Groening, but he didn’t respond (no, I didn’t really email Matt Groening). Anyway, if any of you are the next Matt Groening, and want to work on a short cartoon segment for a global warming/corruption related preso (all to be ccFree), email me at lessig at pobox dot com? It wouldn’t be long, and it is easy to describe. Thanks in advance.

Update: Thanks for the responses so far. Two important clarifications — I don’t actually need a cartoon that looks like the Simpsons. I mean only something that could be used in the wonderfully ambiguous way that the Simpsons is used to be serious and not in the same spin. Also, the critical thing here is animation — I need an animated cartoon to make the point I’m trying to make. Thanks again.