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John Perry Barlow

Barlow in 2006, European Graduate School, Leuk, Switzerland
Born October 3, 1947 (1947-10-03) (age 62)
Sublette County, Wyoming, United States
Occupation lyricist, essayist
Nationality American
Writing period 1971-1995 (lyrics)
1990-present (essays)
Subjects Internet (essays)
Official website

John Perry Barlow (born October 3, 1947) is an American poet, essayist, retired Wyoming cattle rancher; a political activist who has at times been associated with both the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as articulating many Libertarian political sympathies; and former lyricist for the Grateful Dead. He is also known to be a cyberlibertarian[1 ] and was one of the founding members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Since May of 1998, he has been a Fellow at the Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Contents

Biography

Born in Sublette County, Wyoming, Barlow attended elementary school in a one-room schoolhouse. He was a student at the Fountain Valley School in Colorado. There Barlow met Bob Weir, who would later join the music group the Grateful Dead. Weir and Barlow maintained contact throughout the years; a frequent visitor to Timothy Leary's facility in Millbrook, New York, Barlow introduced the musical group to Leary in 1967. In 1969, Barlow graduated with high honors in comparative religion from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and spent two years traveling. In 1971, he began practicing animal husbandry in Cora, Wyoming, at his family's Bar Cross Land and Livestock Company. He sold that business in 1988.

The seeds of the Barlow-Weir collaboration were sown at a Grateful Dead show at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York, in February 1971. Until this point, Weir had mostly worked with resident Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Hunter preferred that those who sang his songs stuck to his "canonical" lyrics rather than improvising additions or rearranging words. A feud erupted backstage over a couplet in "Sugar Magnolia" from the band's most recent release (most likely "She can dance a Cajun rhythm/Jump like a Willys in four wheel drive"), culminating in a disgruntled Hunter summoning Barlow and telling him "take him (Weir) -- he's yours.[2]" In the fall of 1971, with a deal for a solo album in hand and only two songs completed, Weir and Barlow began to write together for the first time.

Fueled by massive amounts of Wild Turkey and a traditional Native American creativity spell recommended by band friend Rolling Thunder, the twosome hammered out such endearing songs as "Cassidy," "Mexicali Blues," and "Black Throated Wind," all three of which would remain in the repertoires of the Grateful Dead and Weir's varied solo projects for years to come. Other songs to emerge from the Weir-Barlow collaboration include "Let It Grow," "The Music Never Stopped," "Estimated Prophet," "I Need A Miracle," "Lost Sailor," "Saint of Circumstance," and "Throwing Stones." Barlow also did collaborations with Grateful Dead keyboardists Brent Mydland then later Vince Welnick.

In 1986, Barlow joined The WELL online community, then known for a strong Deadhead presence. He served on the company's board of directors for several years. In 1990, Barlow founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) along with fellow digital-rights activists John Gilmore and Mitch Kapor. As a founder of EFF, Barlow helped publicize the Secret Service raid on Steve Jackson Games. Barlow's involvement is later documented in the non-fiction book The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier (1992) by Bruce Sterling[3]. EFF later sponsored the ground-breaking case Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. United States Secret Service. Steve Jackson Games won the case in 1993.

He married Elaine Parker Barlow, with whom he had three daughters: Amelia Rose, Anna Winter, and Leah Justine. Elaine and John were separated in 1992. He was engaged to Dr. Cynthia Horner, whom he met at a convention center. She died in 1994 from a heart arrhythmia.[4]

Barlow was a good friend of John F. Kennedy Jr.[5]

Politics

Barlow is a former chairman of the Sublette County Republican Party and served as campaign manager for Dick Cheney during his 1978 Congressional campaign. By the early 2000s, Barlow was unable to reconcile his ardent libertarianism with the prevailing neoconservative movement and "didn't feel tempted to vote for Bush"; after an arrest for possession of a small quantity of marijuana while traveling, he joined the Democratic Party and publicly committed himself to outright political activism for the first time since his spell with the Republican Party. Barlow has subsequently declared that he is a Republican.[6] He has also claimed on many occasions to be an anarchist.[7] He said in 2004: "I'm embarrassed for my country that in my entire voting life, there has never been a major-party candidate whom I felt I could vote for. All of my presidential votes, whether for George Wallace, Dick Gregory, or John Hagelin, have been protest votes."[8] Barlow said that year he was "voting for John Kerry, though with little enthusiasm."[8]

Current work

John Perry Barlow in 2007

Barlow currently serves as vice-chairman of the EFF's board of directors. The EFF was designed to mediate the "inevitable conflicts that have begun to occur on the border between Cyberspace and the physical world."[9] They were trying to build a legal wall that would separate and protect the Internet from territorial government, and especially from the U.S. government.[10]

He is a Fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and Diamond Management & Technology Consultants, and a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. He spends much of his time on the road, lecturing and consulting.

Barlow also serves on the advisory boards of Clear Path International, TTI/Vanguard and the global company Touch Light Media[11] founded by Anita Ondine.

Writing

From 1971 until 1995, Barlow wrote lyrics for the Grateful Dead, mostly through his relationship with Bob Weir. Amongst others, Barlow's songs include "Cassidy" (about Neal Cassady or Cassidy Law),[12] "Estimated Prophet", "Black-Throated Wind", "Hell in a Bucket", "Mexicali Blues", "The Music Never Stopped", and "Throwing Stones".

His writings include "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace", which was written in response to the enactment of the Communications Decency Act in 1996 as the EFF saw the law as a threat to the independency and sovereignty of cyberspace. He argued that the cyberspace legal order would reflect ethical deliberation instead of the coercive power that characterized real-space governance.[13 ] Therefore, they found it inappropriate to obtain order in the cyberspace by physical coercion. Instead ethics, enlightened self-interest and the commonwealth were the elements they believed to create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace.[13 ] Later, article such as "The Economy of Ideas" is also widely circulated in providing a vision for human creativity online.

Barlow has written extensively for Wired magazine, as well as The New York Times, Nerve, and Communications of the ACM. In his writings, he explained the wonder of the Internet. The Internet to him is more than a computer network. It is a place that he called an "electronic frontier".[1 ] "He frequently wrote in language that echoed Henry Stanley's African diary. "Imagine discovering a continent so vast that it may have no end to its dimensions. Imagine a new world with more resources than all our future greed might exhaust, more opportunities than there will ever be entrepreneurs enough to exploit, and a peculiar kind of real estate that expands with development. Imagine a place where trespassers leave no footprints, where goods can be stolen infinite number of times and yet remain in the possession of their original owners, where business you never heard of can own the history of your personal affairs.""[14] He has wanted to encourage and provoke youngsters to explore the cyberspace through his writing.

Barlow has also returned to writing lyrics, most recently collaborating with the String Cheese Incident's mandolinist and vocalist Michael Kang, including their song "Desert Dawn." Barlow is often seen at String Cheese Incident concerts mixing with the fans and members in the band.

He has also recently collaborated with the Chicago-based jamband Mr. Blotto on their release Barlow Shanghai.

Further source

  • Goldsmith, Jack and Wu, Tim (February 24, 2006). Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World. USA: Oxford University Press.  

References

  1. ^ a b Goldsmith and Wu, 2006, p.17
  2. ^ McNally, Dennis: A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead, page 394. Broadway Books, 2002
  3. ^ Sterling, Bruce. (1992) The Hacker Crackdown, law and disorder on the electronic frontier at Project Gutenberg
  4. ^ A story at minute 37 about how Barlow met his fiancée at a convention center, and what happened afterward, in Convention, episode 74. This American Life, aired August 30, 1997, Chicago Public Radio and Ira Glass. October 17, 2003.  
  5. ^ CNN's American Morning: Interview With John Perry Barlow. July 2, 2003 &(transcript)
  6. ^ The Colbert Report, episode first aired March 26, 2007.
  7. ^ Barlow, John Perry (interview) and Jayakar, Roshni (interviewer) (December 6, 2000). "What stops free flow of information is dangerous". Business Today (Living Media India). http://www.india-today.com/btoday/20001206/interview.html. Retrieved 2007-11-12.  
  8. ^ a b "Who's Getting Your Vote?". Reason. 2004-11. http://www.reason.com/news/show/29304.html. Retrieved 2008-10-27.  
  9. ^ Goldsmith and Wu, 2006, p.18
  10. ^ Goldsmith and Wu, 2006, p.19
  11. ^ http://www.touchlightmedia.com
  12. ^ Barlow, John Perry. "Cassidy's Tale". Literary Kicks: Beat Connections in Music (litkicks.com). http://www.litkicks.com/Topics/BarlowOnNeal.html. Retrieved 2007-11-12.  
  13. ^ a b Goldsmith and Wu, 2006, p.20
  14. ^ Goldsmith and Wu, 2006, p.17-18

External links

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity...

John Perry Barlow (born 1947-10-03) is an American poet, essayist, and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Contents

Sourced

Most libertarians are worried about government but not worried about business. I think we need to be worrying about business in exactly the same way we are worrying about government.
Everyone seems to be playing well within the boundaries of his usual rule set. I have yet to hear anyone say something that seemed likely to mitigate the idiocy of this age.
  • TV in America created the most coherent reality distortion field that I’ve ever seen. Therein is the problem: People who vote watch TV, and they are hallucinating like a sonofabitch. Basically, what we have in this country is government by hallucinating mob.
    • Interview at ReasonOnline (August/September 2004)
  • It’s a perfect set of circumstances to give us the time Yeats foretold, with the best having lost all conviction and the worst full of passionate intensity. I’m an optimist. In order to be libertarian, you have to be an optimist. You have to have a benign view of human nature, to believe that human beings left to their own devices are basically good. But I’m not so sure about human institutions, and I think the real point of argument here is whether or not large corporations are human institutions or some other entity we need to be thinking about curtailing. Most libertarians are worried about government but not worried about business. I think we need to be worrying about business in exactly the same way we are worrying about government.
    • Interview at ReasonOnline (August/September 2004)
  • Everyone seems to be playing well within the boundaries of his usual rule set. I have yet to hear anyone say something that seemed likely to mitigate the idiocy of this age.
  • Imagine discovering a continent so vast that it may have no end to its dimensions. Imagine a new world with more resources than all our future greed might exhaust, more opportunities than there will ever be entrepreneurs enough to exploit, and a peculiar kind of real estate that expands with development. Imagine a place where trespassers leave no footprints, where goods can be stolen infinite number of times and yet remain in the possession of their original owners, where business you never heard of can own the history of your personal affairs...
    • As quoted in Who Controls the Internet? : Illusions of a Borderless World (2006) by Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu

The Death of Cynthia Horner (1994)

I don't know that I believe in the supernatural, but I do believe in miracles, and our time together was filled with the events of magical unlikelihood.
I have always felt that no matter how inscrutable its ways and means, the universe is working perfectly and working according to a greater plan than we can know.
Thoughts on the life and death of his fiancée (April 1994)
  • It didn't matter what we did or where we did it as long as we were together. We knew we'd found what most people either pursue in years of futile search or dismiss as a fantasy at the outset: the missing half of ourselves. The real thing.
  • I don't know that I believe in the supernatural, but I do believe in miracles, and our time together was filled with the events of magical unlikelihood. I also believe that angels, or something like them, sometimes live among us, hidden within our fellow human beings. I'm convinced that such an angel dwelled in Cynthia. I felt this presence often in Cynthia's lightness of being, in her decency, her tolerance, her incredible love. I never heard Cynthia speak ill of anyone nor did I ever hear anyone speak ill of her. She gave joy and solace to all who met her.
  • With a care both conscious and reverential, Cynthia and I built a love which I believe inspired most who came near it. We felt it was our gift to the world. We wanted to show the hesitant the miracle that comes when two people give their hearts unconditionally, honestly, fearlessly, and without reservation or judgement. We wanted to make our union into a message of hope, and I believe we did, even though we knew that hearts opened so freely can be shattered if something should go wrong. As my heart is shattered now.
  • Among the waves of tragedy which have crashed on me with her death is a terror that our message of hope has been changed into a dreadful warning. But I must tell you that had I known in the beginning that I would be here today doing this terrible thing, I would still have loved her as unhesitatingly, because true love is worth any price one is asked to pay.
    The other message we wished to convey was one of faith in the essential goodness and purpose of life. I have always felt that no matter how inscrutable its ways and means, the universe is working perfectly and working according to a greater plan than we can know.

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace (1996)

You have no sovereignty where we gather.
We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks.
Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.
A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace (1996) - online
  • Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.
    We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.
    Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders.
  • You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract. This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.
    Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.
    We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.
    We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.
    Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.
  • Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.
    These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.
    We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Planet JH Weekly interview (2005)

I'm less that way than I used to be, but I was trying to make people understand, that at least for some folks, this was a fairly natural state. And instead of skulking around about it that we'd all do better to avoid the deceit and be honest.
"John Perry Barlow: Wyoming's Estimated Prophet" - interview with Aaron Davis in Planet JH Weekly (28 July 2005)
  • I'm a free-marketeer. I believe in free markets, but... sometimes you have things that look like free markets but aren't because of artificial reasons. I'm not very happy with the current state of what calls itself free market economy in the world because you've got all these grotesque monopolies that are able to game the system in a way that's to their advantage by virtue of their power, and that's not a free market. A real free market has some kind of countervailing influence from the government to keep a monopoly in check, but this government... it's not about free marketing principles, it's about greed pure and simple. And this government wants to assure that the other people that they went to college with get just as rich as they do. This country is going to make Mexico look like Sweden inside of ten years in terms of wealth distribution, because there are no countervailing forces. They've eliminated tax basically for the ultra-rich, they've eliminated any control over monopolies, the greedy have free reign and its just going to be the super rich and the peasants.
  • I was always raised to think that Republicans were about limited government, about individual liberty, about fiscal responsibility, about balanced budgets, about a wariness of military adventures abroad, about responsible encouragement to business. There's a whole list of things I thought the Republican Party was all about, and these guys that presently occupy the White House, are categorically against every single one of those things. So if they're Republicans, I'm not. But I'm really not a very comfortable Democrat. I mean the Democrats in the last elections proved themselves to be a bunch of dithering pussies... and it was pathetic. So I'm just waiting until one party or the other actually gets a moral compass and a backbone.
  • I wasn't tempted to vote for Bush, but I understand why people did… because he obviously had integrity. It was a terrible kind of integrity, but he does what he says and he means what he says. And what he says is terrible and what he does is terrible, but he's consistent. So I think a lot of people in Wyoming who care so much about integrity that there willing to choose somebody that has a monstrous willingness to do any damn thing as long as he's up front about it — but that's not really quite enough for me. I mean I look forward to the day when I can be Republican again. I'm an Alan Simpson Republican.
  • Polyamory — that's where you're freely confessed that you have more than one lover at a time. And actually I'm less that way than I used to be, but I was trying to make people understand, that at least for some folks, this was a fairly natural state. And instead of skulking around about it that we'd all do better to avoid the deceit and be honest.

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