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The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  900 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
The Internet revolution has come. Some say it has gone. In The Future of Ideas, Lawrence Lessig explains how the revolution has produced a counterrevolution of potentially devastating power and effect. Creativity once flourished because the Net protected a commons on which widest range of innovators could experiment. But now, manipulating the law for their own purposes, co ...more
ebook, 318 pages
Published November 12th 2002 by Vintage (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Erika RS
I am a Lessig fan. That said, I think this was a very good book and would be a good read for anyone interested in intellectual property especially as related to technology.

Two good issues discussed in the text were the idea of the commons verses ownership and the idea of regulation in advance. The first issue discussed the illusion that just because it is better to have some things as property (controlled by the market) it is better to have everything controlled as property. Thus, the illusion c
“But commons also produce something of value. They are a resource for decentralized innovation. They create the opportunity for individuals to draw upon resources without connections, permission, or access granted by others.”

Das mittlerweile zum Klassiker mutierte Werk des Kommunikationsgenies Lawrence Lessig war vor acht Jahren, 2001, bahnbrechend. “It deserves to change the way we think about the electronic frontier”, wird die Los Angeles Times auf dem Titelblatt zitiert. Tatsächlich darf man
Felix Dacumos
Dec 19, 2013 Felix Dacumos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After watching an interview of Lawrence Lessig back on the old TechTV channel, I was fascinated by his views on copyright and the public domain. I immediately researched him on the internet and walked down to my nearby Borders to pick up this book.

This book became the basis that helped me define my views on the public domain and digital rights management (DRM). Every time I see large corporations use DRM as a way for content control rather than the protection of ideas, it makes me cringe and thi
Jan 04, 2013 Pete rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating examination of what makes the internet tick, in terms of innovation, and what kinds of things could stop that innovation. He sets forth the idea that there are three layers in the internet for control: physical (that is, the wires and such that the signal travels on), code (the system that lets the network do its thing) and content (the stuff that goes over the wires). While he touches on the physical layers, his main focus is on the code and content layers, where the philosophy behi ...more
Jan 02, 2010 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book, if a bit repetitive. The big fight over net neutrality happened after this book was published. While this book didn't precisely predict this issue, it certainly foreshadowed it and showed the progression of increasing levels of control over the internet. Still, there is some hope of Congress officially passing a net neutrality bill. I wish that there were some hope for copyright and patent reform, which is seriously broken. This book highlighted the problems with copyright and ...more
Oct 13, 2008 Zach rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I think this is the book where Lessig truly became one of the most essential public intellectuals of our time. Reading it in 2008, years after its initial release, it has turned out to be stunningly prescient. He writes about the social, economic, and political ramifications of our misguided intellectual property and technology policy with clarity and wit here.

This is probably the most essential of Lessig's three books. Code 2.0 can be pedagogic at times and Free Culture is the work of a defeate
Apr 06, 2008 Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nerds, Journalism Majors, History Buffs, Purity Wizards, Senators, Anarchists
Our children will have no problem parsing this book, whatsoever. When I read this book, I would actually get angry at Lessig at being too moderate. After describing in such nuance the way things have been horribly messed up in copyright and spectrum laws, my reaction was "well, then burn the FCC to the ground, loot Disney World, and put Les Moonves' head on a stake". Lessig, however, usually provides a more moderate solution. Sometimes it looks like compromise, but in the end, the reader cannot ...more
Mar 15, 2008 Brett rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still relevant six-seven years on, the book is highly informative and well-constructed. I just had a hard time motivating myself to finish, I don't know if that's because the subject can at times be dry, that the book has been kind of upstaged by Lessig's later efforts, or just my own failings with slightly academic texts. But for those interested in technology, The Future of Ideas is definitely worth checking out for its broad sentiments about the nature of control and innovation.
Dave Peticolas

Lessig explores the benefits that the open architecture of the Internet has brought to innovation and creativity. He then turns to the reaction against this architecture by the entrenched stakeholders of the pre-Internet era, such as the music and film industries. His conclusion is pessimistic -- the old is fighting successfully to protect itself against the new and stifling innovation in the process.

Feb 08, 2011 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dense but interesting.
Lessig's ideas are still valid but I think he greatly underestimated how much people will be drawn to quality ideas. Even though Microsoft and AOL-TW had every competitive advantage, they still blew it by not innovating.
Innovation seems to emerge, even in the face of highly controlled systems.
I still prefer Lessig's idea of an intellectual commons, though.
Keith Klein
Nov 18, 2007 Keith Klein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lucid and persuasive, Lessig gives history lessons intertwining commerce, morals, politics and law. We get to understand in lay terms how we got to be where we are in copyright and patent law and why it is important that we're able to build on the assets of others' ideas. Important reading for intellectual property owners and purveyors.

Jun 17, 2009 G rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: high-caliber
This is probably the most wide-ranging of Lessig's three books that I've read (I'm going backwards, I suppose), which means it's also the least successful (in part because it's the oldest). Still, he as always makes good points. I think Free Culture is probably the best of his books that I've read (still have to get to Code 2.0).
May 20, 2016 Yougo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Well presented and thorough, the author has presented a compelling argument for limiting copyright and patents. We've forgotten the original reason (to encourage innovation) and shifted to indefinitely protecting existing ideas. It's not a terribly exciting read, but it was interesting.
Mark Schomburg
Copyright and control issues in realms of data networking and broadcasting are compared in detail. The emphasis is on being mindful of software and legal developments that will affect what a U.S. citizen can access in the public domain.
Yuki kojima
"The experts didn't get it", the book starts by giving you the history of the internet from the ground up, always reminding you that freedom drives innovation because the few at the top, might not get it.
Sep 21, 2010 Evelyn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I didn't actually finish this book; I just cannot bring myself to finish it. What is it about the writing that makes it so infuriatingly slow-paced? It's just like The World is Flat.
Oct 21, 2007 Lolakay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media-theory
yes, i was once a member of the Lawrence Lessig cult. (still respect his ideas, just not as zealous. remember when copyright was a top concern? ah the good old days.)
Mar 05, 2010 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very informative and interesting take on the history and future of ideas on the internet. Not a light read, but then it's not a light subject.
May 26, 2009 Yair rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good information, great discussion of the battles of incumbent industries vs. new technology and public interest but a bit repetitive and dry.
Hunter Johnson
The Future of Ideas, by John Lessig. An eye-opener, and makes me even more opposed to the further cementing of Disney's iconic copyrights.
Dec 12, 2007 Andrew is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Adage be damned. The hardcover edition of this book may have the best cover I've ever seen. Now, I just need to finish reading it.
Mike Hendrickson
Jan 02, 2009 Mike Hendrickson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure I buy this hook, line and sinker. But it does make you think, and that is what Lessig wants, I am pretty sure.
Mar 10, 2009 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: futurism
A must read for those interested i the future of us, technology, thought, basically, our evolution as a system.
Mar 30, 2008 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book crystallized my thinking about the significance of Open Source and the power of collaborative development of ideas.
Feb 24, 2008 Chad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It breaks down who runs the web, how it runs, and the decisions and biases that determine the rules of the internet.
Oct 28, 2015 zynphull rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Lessig. One can foresee your future academic shift of interests just by looking at your concerns here...
Nadxieli Mannello
just started, seems good . . . had to put it down to read other stuff but worth going back to . . .
Oliver Thylmann
Too dry for my taste. Didn't make it easier that I am already relatively deeply in the subject.
Wesley Fryer
May 09, 2010 Wesley Fryer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
One of the most important books I've read about intellectual freedom, copyright and technology.
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Lawrence "Larry" Lessig (born June 3, 1961) is an American academic and political activist. He is best known as a proponent of reduced legal restrictions on copyright, trademark, and radio frequency spectrum, particularly in technology applications.
He is a director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a professor of law at Harvard Law School. Prior to rejoi
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