Wow. One of my favorite thinkers and writers about copyright and intellectual property issues, Dr. Lawrence Lessig of the Stanford Law school, has decided to change directions. Instead of focusing on those topics, he is going to focus (for the next decade) on our political process (in the United States) and specifically the corruption which continues to oppose much reform, even changes which you’d think common sense would make a “no-brainer.”
In his post, he mentions Senator Barack Obama’s most recent book, “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream” as one of the reasons he’s making this professional change in focus. I’ve been reading Senator Obama’s book as well, and will be keeping a close eye on him in our upcoming Presidential election. I am thrilled to learn Dr. Lessig is turning his professional focus to politics. If the results of his work and leadership (and of course the work of many others) in the Creative Commons movement is any barometer, his decision to focus on constructive political change in the United States is going to have significant results.
I heard about the group Transparency International several weeks ago on a NPR podcast. Some (like Niko Coucouvanis, writing the cover article for the July 2007 issue of MacLife) assert web 2.0 is merely evolutionary, not revolutionary. I disagree. The level of international collaboration and immediate transparency which is now possible to combat corruption (as Transparency International is doing and Dr. Lessig aspires to do) or address other issues thanks to increased access to the web and read/write technologies is unprecedented. We have not begun to glimpse the power of citizen journalism. The cacophony of voices on the web, the thousands of TV channels that are just around the corner…. all of this can certainly seem overwhelming. The power of our voices, however, has barely begun to be felt in mainstream society.
Yes, people for decades have lamented our need to reform government. People for decades have called for school reform. There are many, many other issues that we have similarly needed to address but have not done satisfactorily– in part because our system has impeded those changes. Here’s the big difference today: We’re equipped with ideological tools of unprecedented power and reach. Blogging has changed my own life and learning journey in BIG ways, and I think we’ve only started this read/write journey together.
Let’s hope Dr. Lessig, Senator Obama, and others focusing their professional passion and effort in the U.S. political realm will be able to not only give us HOPE in the months and years ahead, but provide the leadership our nation direly needs to constructively move forward on a variety of issues in the 21st century.
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