Last night I went along to the launch party for Lawrence Lessig’s new book, Remix: Making Art And Commerce Thrive In The Hybrid Economy. This book is the bridge between Lessig moving from his studies in Free Culture to his work on reform in Congress. It was an excellent evening, and it was great to catch up with Lawrence himself, the Creative Commons folks, and other friends.
I find Lessig such an inspiration. He has an incredible ability to understand, reason and articulate complex topics in such a way that not only shares his insight, but inspires the listener or reader of his work to aspire to a similar sense of objective, reasoned approach. Over the years he has written a number of books, and a flurry of essays and blog entries, touching on a wide range of subjects. Most widely known in our world for his contributions to Free Culture, Copyright issues and the Creative Commons, Lessig is now setting his sites on what he considers the more fundamental problem – corruption in government. Last night in his speech, he expressed that the problems that we have faced with Copyright are because government does not make decisions based upon sense and reason, but is instead heavily influenced by significant commercial entities. Money talks. Lessig has deduced that this is a problem that not only affects Copyright, but a wider range of more fundamental issues. With this in mind, he has decided to step back from his work on Free Culture and focus on his Change Congress mission.
In our world we have many celebrities, but what I admire most about Lessig’s work is that he does not seem to let religious ethical zeal for the topic affect his judgement. Lessig feels very strongly about the issues that he studies, but in every one of his works I always take away a calm, reasoned, measured approach, and one that uncovers the nuances in the debate that are articulated and communicated with inspiring precision. I will always hold him in high regard for his incredible contributions to Free Culture. The Free Culture train is really only just starting to roll, and Lessig but the rails down on the ground for us.
Over the last few weeks Lessig and I have been exchanging some emails regarding Severed Fifth, and he is excited about the project, which as you can probably imagine, makes me rather excited too. With Severed Fifth off to a fairly ripping start I am concious to do things the right way and asked for his thoughts and advice , and when he is back from his extensive travelling spree, we are going to meet up for lunch and discuss it. I look forward to having his input on the project.
So in a nutshell, a great evening, and lets not mourn Lessig’s move away from Free Culture issues, and welcome his insight into how we can change congress. As he said last night, we have an opportunity right now for this kind of reform, and I can’t think of anyone better to drive it forward.