BARLOW, JOHN PERRY- Grateful Dead lyricist from 1970 until the band broke up in 1995; ex-cattle rancher. Co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; civil libertarian, “cognitive dissident,” buddy of a lot of members of MOD. (After that little misunderstanding with Phiber Optik when Barlow called Phiber a punk and compared him to a skateboarder, and Phiber ILFed Barlow’s TRW credit report. Good hack, that. Also wrote the essay “Crime and Puzzlement,” as well as a declaration of the independence of cyberspace and a _Time_ essay (notable for using the word “shit” for the first time in _Time_ without quotes around it. Barlow later said it felt like a revolutionary act.) . Currently civil libertarian and contributing writer for _Wired_.
The characterization of information Barlow (1996) has suggested serves as the foundation for his argument that intellectual property rights, specifically copyrights, are outmoded and irrelevant in a digital age – in fact, that “everything you know about intellectual property is wrong”. Barlow has this to say about how he sees the nature of information: “Information is an activity. Information is a life form. Information is a relationship.” This conceptualization of information leads him to conclude that, to the extent information is considered property, information in digital form must change the nature of property and the laws developed to protect it: “In the absence of the old containers, almost everything we think we know about intellectual property is wrong. We’re going to have to unlearn it. We’re going to have to look at information as though we’d never seen the stuff before” (Barlow, 1996).
An ex-rancher from Wyoming, barlow also played a role in propagating one of the first and most important mythic images to drape cyberspace: the frontier. Though the ensuing dominance of the “digital frontier” had as much to do with lazy journalists as with network proselytizers, it can nonetheless by traced to America’s libertarian imagination, with its primal identification of wilderness and freedom. ,Given the independent minded, mostly white male Americans who were probing the technical and social possibilities of networked computers–not to mention the gold rush flashbacks already hitting the Bay Area’s blossoming computer industry – the “ditial frontier” emerged from American’s technological unconscious with all the predictability of a high-noon shoot-out.
– Erik Davis – _Techgnosis_
“… Connected to the happiness of mission is another joy that can no more be pursued than grace itself: the gift of creation. I’ve been blessed by the opportunity to let art pass through me on occasion. Whether songs, or essays, or interestingly designed haystacks, these manifestations of beauty, for which I take no more credit than the faucet should take for the water, have been wonderful gifts.
The sense that one has become the instrument of invention is so satisfying that I find it truly stupefying that anyone one would claim that artists are motivated to create primarily by the money they might get from such miracles. Not to say they shouldn’t be paid. Paying them provides them with more time and liberty to channel art. But it’s a rare artist who’s in it for the money. A real artist creates because he has no choice. He is pressed into the involuntary service of art, and thereby, humanity….”
– John Perry Barlow