Every year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation presents its Pioneer Awards (previously); now renamed the Barlow Award in honor of EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow, who died last year.
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Here's my reading (MP3) of Let's get better at demanding better from tech, a Locus Magazine column about the need to enlist moral, ethical technologists in the fight for a better technological future. It was written before the death of EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow, whose life's work was devoted to this proposition, and before the Google uprising over Project Maven, in which technologists killed millions in military contracts by refusing to build AI systems for the Pentagon's drones.
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John Perry Barlow lived many lives: small-time Wyoming Republican operative (and regional campaign director for Dick Cheney!), junior lyricist for the Grateful Dead, father-figure to John Kennedy Jr, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, inspirational culture hero for the likes of Aaron Swartz and Ed Snowden (and, not incidentally, me), semi-successful biofuels entrepreneur... He died this year, shortly after completing his memoir Mother American Night
, and many commenters have noted that Barlow comes across as a kind of counterculture cyberculture Zelig, present at so many pivotal moments in our culture, and that's true, but that's not what I got from my read of the book -- instead, I came to know someone I counted as a friend much better, and realized that every flaw and very virtue he exhibited in his interpersonal dealings stemmed from the flaws and virtues of his relationship with himself.
EFF co-founder, Grateful Dead lyricist and mayor of the internet John Perry Barlow died in February and left an unfillable hole.
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EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow died last month, and though his death had been long coming, it's left a hole in the hearts of the people who loved him and whom he inspired.
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It's been less than a week since the death of EFF co-founder, cowboy poet, Grateful Dead lyricist and Mayor of the Internet John Perry Barlow died, and he's already sorely missed. But Barlow was an open access advocate before that was a thing, and the archive of his work at the Internet Archive is full of what Bruce Sterling calls "a lot of weird, flaky, broke-the-mold stuff."
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Barlow (that's what most of his friends called him) flaunted his complexity. He advertised himself as a Republican Deadhead, as a cowboy hacker, a spiritual rationalist, a womanizing feminist, a technological hippy. He had a remarkable gift of conforming himself to the contours of whomever he was arguing with, so both sides could violently agree and civilly disagree. His full embrace of his own cognitive dissonance allowed him to craft outrageous statements and manifestos that he truly believed to be true and also knew were wholly fictional.
It may be truer to say the most of what he wrote and said was less an attempt to nail reality as it was to reshape reality. He was an unashamed aspirationalist. In that regard, Barlow had much in common with many prophets, gurus, visionaries, magicians, innovators, charlatans, and politicians in that he placed greater emphasis on what could be rather than what is. And he believed, as those just mentioned do and most journalists and scientists don't, that you can create reality with your words.
I always thought of Barlow as the Mayor of the Internet. He saw very early that the internet was a political artifact that would require the same kind of idealism, compromise, and civics that prosperous and free societies needed. Nobody elected him, but if we did vote for a Mayor of the Internet, he would have won because everyone – no matter their stripe or color – thought of him as a good friend (and he was a good friend to thousands). Read the rest
I met John Perry Barlow in 1999, and I was awestruck: here was the legend whose Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace
had profoundly changed my life, making me realize that the nascent internet that I'd dropped out of university to devote my life to could be more than a communications tool: it could be a revolutionary force for good.
John Perry Barlow -- author of the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, Grateful Dead lyricist, Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder, character in my novels, and all-round amazing, pioneering guy -- has been hospitalized on and off for a year and a half, is in constant pain, and has limited mobility. Read the rest
In 1993, I started a radio station on the Internet, engaging in activities that later became known as podcasting and webcasting. I'm pleased to say that I've finished uploaded the archive of Internet Talk Radio to the Internet Archive.
I ran the radio station from 1993-1996, and it was an exciting time on the Internet. Our flagship program was Geek of the Week, but we also were able to get one of the broadcast booths in the National Press Club to send out their luncheons, and joined the Public Radio Satellite system so we send out programs like TechNation. It was early in the digital world, so we were able to convince Harper Collins to give us Internet rights to Harper Audio, an amazing collection of people like Anne Sexton, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Frank Herbert and J.R.R. Tolkien reading their own work. We also managed to get official Congressional press credentials and ran tie lines into the basement of the Capitol to send out live feeds from the floors of the House and Senate.
We also did a lot of special programs (check out John Perry Barlow, Cliff Stoll and the United Nations 50th Anniversary and published some really cool SoundBytes you could use for alerts and notifications, and had a thriving Christmas practice going until Santa got mailbombed in a nasty DDOS incident. I also uploaded some early press coverage and some of the presentations and letters in my files.
We ran Internet Talk Radio as a nonprofit corporation called the Internet Multicasting Service. Read the rest
Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "In 1993, I started a radio station on the Internet, engaging in activities that later became known as podcasting and webcasting. I'm pleased to say that I've finished uploaded the archive of Internet Talk Radio to the Internet Archive." Read the rest
Everyone thinks libraries have a positive role to play in the world, but that role differs greatly based on whether you’re talking to a librarian or a patron. Ask a patron what libraries have in common and they’d probably answer: they share books with people. Librarians give a different answer: they share a set of values. It’s time for libraries to step up to those values by supporting access to the Internet and taking the lead in fighting to keep the Internet open, free, and unowned.
Does Cyberspace Exist? Is It Free? Read the rest
In 1996, in the midst of the Clinton administration's attack on the Internet and cryptography, Grateful Dead lyricist and EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow sat down in Davos, Switzerland, where he'd been addressing world leaders on the subject of the Internet and human rights, and wrote one of net-culture's formative documents: The Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace. Read the rest
A guide to the charities we support in our own annual giving.