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February 16, 2005
Susan Crawford: What Would Ben Franklin Do?
I don't often get the chance to visit Susan Crawford's weblog, but when I do, I'm always well rewarded. The latest gift is a series of posts analyzing various contemporary developments in Internet law and policy from the perspective of none other than Ben Franklin. That's right -- Ben Franklin, whom Prof. Crawford argues would surely have blogged -- pseudonymously, of course.
In the latest post, Prof. Crawford nicely articulates the reason why so many people are passionate about protecting the Internet:
Amateur musicians flock to concerts; amateur radio enthusiasts keep plugging along; amateur astronomers add to our knowledge of the universe. The interactive, networked screen makes it easier for all of these amateurs to find one another -- joined by the internet as well as by their common interests. The net can be used to create intellectual common areas of all kinds, built by gift. Code is love as well as law.
This gets at something we all love about the Internet: it's a space for the curious, for the Ben Franklin in each of us. There's a lot of talk about the need to protect "innovation," but that's terribly abstract. The red-baiting
is, of course, the red herring in this debate. Perhaps Ben can help us get past it to the real conversation about preserving what each "side" values about the Internet and our society.
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