I’m speaking at Yale | we must learn from environmentalism

I’m going to be speaking at Yale Law School this Friday (the 10th), at this event called “Digital Mix“, so if you’ll be in or around New Haven, CT then, please swing by!  Also, if you’re at Swarthmore, and you don’t have any finals that day, you should come with me… Luke is planning to arrive back at Swarthmore on Thursday and take the train up with me as well, so it should be a rocking time!

Also, check out this great essay on what’s wrong with the environmentalist movement and what green activists can do to improve things.  It’s definitely worth reading, since we at FreeCulture.org call ourselves “an environmentalism of the information commons” sometimes… We can learn from the environmentalist movement’s successes and mistakes.  Like the environmentalist movement, we must bring together hundreds of seemingly disparate issues and unite them under one banner. 

There are several differences between their cause and our cause, however… one significant one is that the golden days of the environment are irretrievably far behind us, and while we can work towards a progressive environmentalism, where we carefully steward the planet and use high technology to keep it clean and beautiful, it will never be the same as it was before humans had a population of many billions on Earth.  However, while we must fight to protect the tradition of free culture that we’ve had, which has been losing ground in the past several decades, the fact is that the internet and digital technology give us the greatest promise for a truly free culture that the world has ever seen.  If we can preserve our freedom, great changes will happen and the future will rock.  The problem that we face is that it’s hard to get people excited about bills like the Induce Act, which threaten future innovation but which may do little to destroy our current comforts.  Our opponents are clear-cutting the future, and the negative results will not be lost forests replaced by wastelands, but creativity that never has a chance to come into being.  How do you measure the loss of something which has yet to be?  If someone went around with a time machine and killed all our greatest proponents of peace and justice when they were still children, would we miss them?

On the other hand, what we are battling very much resembles a loss of biodiversity… a world in which only those who sign up with big corporations are allowed to create is very much like an environment that consists only of squirrels, sparrows, starlings and suburban lawns.  There are many parallels which we can explore, but the point is, examine the differences, play with them, and see what insights we can draw from comparing the nascent free culture movement with 50+ years of building environmentalism into a worldwide movement.

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