John Perry Barlow was a libertarian who helped write lyrics for the Grateful Dead and who was involved in shaping the political identity of cyberspace in the early 90s. He published an essay titled “The Economy of Ideas” in a 1994 issue of Wired magazine and his declaration of independence in 1996. The Declaration, which was widely distributed after its publication and was both celebrated and strongly critiqued, is described about a decade later as Barlow’s “Thomas Jefferson moment” in a 2004 interview with Brian Doherty of Reason Magazine.
In this interview, he explains that his political philosophy was one of passivity; that his beliefs centered around the idea that taking care of oneself and raising consciousness was better than confronting authority directly. He changed his mind at the beginning of the 2000s, saying in this interview that civil liberties were in grave danger. He joined the Democratic party in hopes of confronting what he saw as issues very damaging to intellectual property and a free society.
Copyright and intellectual property are the most important issues now. If you don’t have something that assures fair use, then you don’t have a free society.
If all ideas have to be bought, then you have an intellectually regressive system that will ensure you have a highly knowledgable elite and an ignorant mass.
In explaining his comments on how Microsoft was operating an information monopoly, he said,
Anytime you engage with information, the reality that you extract from that information is shaped bu the tools that deliver it.”
This statement supports what I am trying to demonstrate and articulate in these exams.
Barlow’s Declaration was hailed by many triumphantly, but it was also called “hogwash” by critics who viewed Barlow with skepticism as an idealogical hippie who was out of touch with the economic and political realities of the internet. His lifelong fight for the freedom of information online, however, has played an important role in helping define (and relax) boundaries around the free exchange of knowledge on the internet.