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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
This is an important book: an impassioned warning about the urgent threat to innovation and creativity born with the possibilities of the digital age. Lawrence Lessig's arguments are deeply felt but also infused with the scholarship necessary to support his cause -- and written in a style that will engage sophisticated as well as lay audiences.
Lessig begins by reminding us of the innovations made possible by the Internet and tantalizing us with the idea of unknown possibilities waiting in the future. But this reminder serves as a preamble to his basic contention that the Internet is in danger of being controlled in ways that will ultimately chill innovation and creativity.
Lessig's thesis, put simply (and colorfully), is that the dinosaurs are trying to stop evolution: Existing commercial interests seek to control any possible threat made to their markets by new technologies and distribution systems. Lessig carefully and convincingly prepares the reader for this argument, explaining how the Internet is an “innovation commons” -- a resource open and free to anyone -- much as public roads are common zones of transit. Along the digital "road," innovation has certainly flourished; in the past few years, we've witnessed the emergence of eBooks and peer-to-peer capability as well as the dissemination of technology that allows almost anyone to create high-quality films for relatively little money. Yet the dinosaurs (the record industry and cable companies, to name a few) threaten the expansion of possibilities, use are the courts, patent laws, copyright interpretation, or simply control of the “road” to threaten the expansive possibilities The future that awaits us could be one in which the content you are able to access is predetermined by others.
Lessig argues that we have more to gain culturally and commercially by maintaining the Internet as an innovation commons.
Even if you aren’t conversant in Internet architecture, intellectual property rights, or the theories of Adam Smith, you’ll find this book compelling and relevant to your daily life. Lessig’s mastery of his subject and his accessible prose make his work a thrilling one to read. This is a rousing book, one that truly makes you wake up and reimagine the Internet -- and want to protect it. (Holly McGuire)
(Holly McGuire is a book editor and consultant based in Chicago, Illinois.)