You know, there are few people who start talking and I automatically sit up and pay attention. Ask my parents, for example. I paid attention to them as a kid but only after the beatings. But seriously, there are lots of people who I find interesting, lots of people I think are brilliant–and there are a few who are both and when they speak, they speak gobs of truth. So when Larry Lessig, papa of the Creative Commons movement (the method by which I’ve chosen to release my books into the world), starts talking about how the new American Presidential administration should abolish the FCC–then you get me all excited. Read the whole article here.
For our readers outside the U.S., the FCC is that brilliant organization that fakes information when it feels like it, admits that that’s just the way they do things, and spend their free time freaking out about Janet Jackson’s nipple. Yes–you remember the useless org we’re talking about now, don’t you?
[ad#longpost]Anyway, back to Lessig: what I find refreshing about him is he’s neither all the way to one side of an argument or the other. We’ve got a lot of extreme thinkers in this country these days–you’re either 100% this way or 100% that way or you’re odd and you’re weird and we hate you. And you can’t have your parking space any longer. But Lessig is making far too much sense to be denied.
Even I, who was against the concept of net neutrality just on the principle that asking the government to fix a broken situation is like asking the Trashcan Man to help you get a kitchen fire under control, finally broke down after watching what idiots the network providers were making of themselves. I’m speaking of lying about what they were doing to their networks, not fulfilling the terms of the amounts of bandwidth they had offered to their customers, stacking the audience at hearings, and just behaving like general assholes. But Lessig maintains that we need just enough oversight in order to help people–and that’s all. Not one iota more.
Because after all, what some people seem to have conveniently not figured out over the past few years is that the only safe power is the power that the government doesn’t have and can’t get at. But rather than just take over everything, Lessig gives some slack to the network providers, reminding us that they are, after all, their networks. I figure Google will lay a wireless grid down on top of the country at some point in the next ten years and put them all out of business anyway, so maybe they deserve a little pity, the clueless bastards. But the yardstick for Lessig is something that seems to simple and direct that I fear we’ll never see it in government: the question “Is this a good idea and does it do more harm that good?” before implementing policies. What a concept. But how do you get that implemented in a world where the whole “something must be done–this is something–therefore it must be done” mentality has run mad for so long? No idea.
Regardless, Lessig speaks wisdom: let the people who can innovate do precisely that. Let the government just get the hell out of the way. And I think we’ll all benefit.