Tag Archives: John Perry Barlow

Amelia Barlow at the Barlow Symposium

Amelia Barlow. at the Internet Archive’s John Perry Barlow Symposium, April 7, 2018.

This is from April 7, 2018. Complete transcription and video available here at the Internet Archive. (A complete index of all speakers is forming here on the Aaron Swartz Day website.)

Amelia Barlow: I want to just say I have the easiest job in this room. I would say. Because all I have to really do up here is say thank you, to all of you. I want to say thank you for embodying these ideas that were shared today. Continuing his legacy in the way that you work in the way that you live your lives. Also thank you for being the immune system, and protecting us from tyranny.

When he passed he entrusted us with the most valuable asset that I could possibly imagine, which is you. All of the people in this room. All of the people around the world who he cared about and cared about him.

This vast web of infinitely interesting and radical human beings that he gave to us. And I really appreciate that. So one of his guiding beliefs that I found really interesting is like the conservation of energy and this principle. No idea was created or destroyed. As you’ve heard many times today. So in that – all these all of this creativity is pulled from and return to this sort of cosmic soup or the Noosphere as Alden told me. This endless creative force has to be drawn upon anywhere at any time by anyone. As he shuffled off his meat prison. It seemed to be at the end there. He told me I was his squishy ware. There was almost an eruption of creative force. This sequestered essence that was living inside of him and he was immediately returned to this this collective soup pot. I feel like as he’s passed he’s almost bigger and bossier and more ubiquitous than ever. Certainly my life has been taken over.

But I just I feel like, in closing to this beautiful symposium. I just want to say that never before have you been able to draw more immediately and completely upon him. And I want you to feel that. So if you would do me – indulge me I guess I should say. And I want everybody to stand up. Please. [03:55:26]

I want you to stand up and close your eyes. I want you to take a moment. And really drink him. I want you to feel his essence. His thoughts. In this room. Feel him in the person next to you. I want you to feel him in the glorious light streaming through these windows. Feel him in the love in your heart. Feel him in the magic of opening yourself to this creative force. In this raw spirit. This unbridled freedom that he now has attained. [03:56:20]

1) Be patient. No matter what.

2) Don’t bad mouth. Assign responsibility. Never blame. Say nothing behind any other’s back that to you’d be unwilling to say in exactly the same tone and language to his face.

3) Assume the motives of others are never to them, less noble, than yours are to you.

4) Expand your sense of the possible.

5) Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.

6) Expect no more of anyone than you yourself can deliver.

7) Tolerate ambiguity.

8) Laugh at yourself frequently.

9) Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.

10) Never forget. No matter how certain; you might be wrong.

11) Give up bloodsports.

12) Remember your life belongs to others as well. Do not endanger it frivolously and never endanger the life of another.

13) Never lie to anyone for any reason. Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.

14) Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.

15) Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your own mission and pursue that.

16) Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.

17) Praise at least as often as you disparage.

18) Never let your errors pass without omission.

19) Become less suspicious of joy.

20) Understand humility.

21) Forgive.

22) Foster dignity.

23) Live memorably.

24) Love yourself.

25) Endure.

26) Don’t be a dick.

Thank you.

***

Transcription by Lisa Rein (Co-founder Aaron Swartz Day & Creative Commons, and friend of John Perry Barlow). Lisa Rein used Teme to start – and then cleaned it up by comparing it to the video, over many days :) Corrections are very much appreciated-please send them to: lisa[@]lisarein.com.

Mitch Kapor Explains How He & John Perry Barlow Recorded Their Meeting with the CIA – at the #BarlowSymposium

(left to right) Mitch Kapor, Pam Samuelson, Trevor Timm, Cory Doctorow, Cindy Cohn

This is from April 7, 2018. Complete transcription and video available here at the Internet Archive. (A complete index of all speakers is forming here on the Aaron Swartz Day website.)

Below is Mitch Kapor’s entire opening talk AND his two Q & A answers. CIA story here.

Cindy Cohn: So let’s start with our esteemed panel.. let me start with Mitch Kapor. He’s a pioneer of the tech industry and a longtime startup investor. He founded Lotus Development Corporation and designed Lotus 1 2 3. The first killer app which made the personal computers ubiquitous in business. He’s the co-founder with Barlow and John Gilmore of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He was the founding chair of Mozilla, creator of the Firefox web browser, and currently he works to bring together the worlds of business and social impact and to diversify the tech ecosystem.

One of the things that Mitch gave us, that we still use all the time at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is the idea that architecture is politics. That the idea of embedding cooperation, mutual aid and the sense of civic duty into the Internet’s protocols and operations makes our world better, and that we need to continue to push for that.

So now, without further ado, Mitch Kapor.

Mitch Kapor: Thank you Cindy, and hello to everyone. So many old friends and familiar faces here today. I thought I would read just five short sentences from EFF’s first public statement. “Across the electronic frontier.” It bears both of our names as authors but as you’ll hear it’s really in John’s voice and it sets the tone for what was to come. [01:10:00]

(He starts reading:) “Over the last 50 years the people of the developed world have begun to cross into a landscape unlike any which humanity has experienced before. Cyberspace, the repository for all digital or electronically transferred information, will be the venue for most of what is now commerce, industry, and broad scale human interaction. It is the homeland of the information age. The place where the future is destined to dwell. Certainly the old concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context, based as they are on physical manifestation, do not apply succinctly in a world where there can be none. Sovereignty over this new world is also not well-defined. It is therefore a perfect breeding ground for both outlaws and vigilantes.” [01:10:58]

So first of all, this was in 1990. If you can think back, or look back if you’re not old enough to have been there, just prehistoric times. Five years before the web as we know it was even born. Almost no one was on the Internet. It was still very much a research and military driven network that was just beginning to be made available to the public. But Barlow absolutely nailed its essential character and what was going to happen. And that was his genius. And that expression of it was quintessentially Barlovian and it was visionary and poetic. But what he said had enormous practical consequences. And my role in this; I did a bunch of things. I brought some money. I brought some entrepreneurial energy. But as John liked to say I always came equipped to provide Barlow with a hyperbolectomy.

But at the same time, you should know, that so many of the stories that he told were literally true, not literarily true. So, for instance, as he wrote in Crime and Puzzlement. I really did detour my jet to Pinedale, Wyoming. I was on a trip from Boston (where I lived at the time in Silicon Valley) and I could not stop thinking about the dangerous ignorance of the law enforcement’s vendetta against teenage cyberspace vandals and I needed to talk to the only other person I knew who really got it and that was John Perry Barlow. And I flew the jet and stopped in Pinedale, and we connected, and you know the connection was one, a bit the way alien abductees sharing their UFO experiences have. They’re just trying to make sense of this weird thing that’s happened to them, and how to tell it to the larger world. (And that was his metaphor by the way.) [01:13:27]

And thus was born a partnership and like a rock band, unsurprisingly we took our show on the road, not to the Fillmore, but to hearing rooms in the Senate and the house, and inside the bowels of the CIA (where we smuggled in listening devices), into the heart of Silicon Valley, into more than a few dark basements of teenage hackers, and more than one courtroom. (Note! More on the CIA recording in the Q & A answer below).

Yes, the EFF got its start as a civil liberties organization, and for decades, I resented the way The Wall Street Journal characterized us as a “hacker defense fund,” but you know that’s not completely unfair. The issue was it wasn’t just that. Civil liberties were a place where Barlow and I came together, despite our very different politics. But the legacy of EFF, and what we created and what he brought to it, was far more than that.

In hindsight, the biggest impact that I think we had, was in raising consciousness. That these issues matter: property, expression, identity, and movement, and that things were changing, and they were going to change a lot and soon. And there was an urgency to get ahead of the issues before the issues got ahead of us. And to do it in a way that was as thoughtful and as generous of spirit as possible. [01:15:12]

And one of the moments of which he and I were both justifiably proud, was when, the first time, we saw in one room, the hackers and the feds shaking hands and seeing each other as human beings and not faceless enemies. Well, it’s nearly 30 years later now. If anything, I think we underestimated the transformative impact of information technology. And while the crises of today are deeply, deeply troubling, I believe we’re all better off for having gotten an early start; even if, as is surely the case least, if you ask me, we got some of it right and a lot of it wrong. But Barlow never gave up hope and neither should we. And I can feel his generous and optimistic spirit right here in the room today inspiring all of us. Thank you. [01:16:30]

*****

Audience Question: “What did you disagree with Barlow about?”

Mitch Kapor: We really disagreed about whether government could have a constructive role in addressing some of the considerations to get appropriate (Stops. Thinks.)

Well, look at it this way: I thought there was a place for appropriate regulation; public policy around telecommunications and infrastructure, and led EFF on a death march to Washington D.C. and its early days, to try to bring that about. And John, at that point, was a pretty resolute libertarian; the less government the better. I lost that battle entirely, both in D.C. and how it was resolved and EFF became, and was, staunchly libertarian. John Gilmore and I and others, in that phase of things. So it was only later that I came to understand that really the only thing that liberals and libertarians agree about is civil liberties. On pretty much everything else, they’re on you’re on opposite sides. Nonetheless, the fact that we disagreed didn’t reduce the intensity of feeling we had for each other. [01:56:10]

****

Audience question: Can you describe a moment that you and John had that frightened you?

Mitch Kapor: Yeah I alluded to it. We were invited into the CIA, this is early days, to just talk about the issues that we were we were working on. And in Langley, in the headquarters. I’ve never been there. I don’t think John had ever been at that point. And it’s this big fortress and there are lots of signs about no recording devices and turn everything in. And John and I conferred and we devised a plan. We said “well, can we bring in our laptops?” This is in the early 1990s. Yes, actually if you check the laptop, (they said) you can bring your laptop.

Our laptops were recording devices. This was brand new at that point that our Macs had mics in them and audio capture software and this wasn’t a common thing and we said to each other “I wonder if the CIA knows this?” [02:01:50]

So we were scared. And they didn’t know that. And we went in and recorded the meeting inside the bowels of the CIA. Quite illegally. We thought of it as a sort of science experiment. I mean, we didn’t just want to make claims that the government was cluefull or clueless. We wanted to see. Since they made such a big point about the security saying you know understood that Mac duo had a…and they didn’t. But we were pretty nervous going in. That’s a true story!

Transcription by Lisa Rein (Co-founder Aaron Swartz Day & Creative Commons, and friend of John Perry Barlow). Lisa Rein used Teme to start – and then cleaned it up by comparing it to the video, over many days :) Corrections are very much appreciated-please send them to: lisa[@]lisarein.com.

Anna Barlow at the John Perry Barlow Symposium

 Anna Barlow, at the Internet Archive’s John Perry Barlow Symposium, April 7, 2018

To have access to that truth; to protect the availability that the Internet offered in a way that was more raw and accessible to information than ever before. He knew that this was an imperative thing to fight for, and it was second nature for him to fight as hard as he could. – Anna Barlow.

Video and complete transcription available at the Internet Archive.
(A complete index of all speakers is forming here on the Aaron Swartz Day website.)

Anna Barlow: Welcome everyone. Well I just want to say this is such a wonderful event for my family and I. And on the way over here I was thinking what a great thing it is that my dad doesn’t have to be bummed about missing parties anymore because now he can kind of go to all the parties, and he gets the best seat in the House which is which is great. So he would be so tickled about this amazing collection of some of his truly favorite minds and thinkers of all time in one room talking about the ideas that he was most inspired by. Most of them happen to be good friends but that’s just kind of how he rolled; with people that intrigued him the most. This speech was thrown together in the past few days so bear with me here. But it’s an honor to share some thoughts about him here.

The fact that it’s in conjunction with honoring him and his work – which has always been one of his favorite things – is a real treat for him to say the least. And I feel very much that he’s with us today and this weekend. And it’s I’m sure he’s giddy for this beautiful gathering. So thank you all so much for being here. And to EFf and the Internet Archive archive. My dad was kind of like a roving psychedelic data collector slash cowboy spy. The majority of his life.

And I remember as a little girl him coming home to rural Wyoming from his travels. Being so fascinated by these trinkets and books and artifacts from the far reaches of the world. We got to join him on many of these adventures as well as spend some time with him in his home in New York and San Francisco. But for the most part he seemed to always be in a different country every time I spoke with him, most of my life. And I remember him explaining to me as a little girl it wasn’t so much the things in these places that made them so special to visit, but it was really the people that lit up and fueled his love for exploration. When he got sick in the past few years I realized that although this physical presence was stationary, his adventures didn’t stop they just started coming to him. For the first time in his life, my dad was in the same place multiple months at a time, which meant that the people that loved him from all over the world actually knew where to find him.

So they started to come to visit him. Some regularly from across town. Others flew from across the globe just for a day. But everyone that came. No matter how close they were or how well they knew each other came for the same reasons. Beyond just loving him, they came to feel inspired. To feel understood. They needed to have their brains just completely turned inside out and handed back to them in 15 minutes which was really good at. Or sometimes most dependently they needed to just have a good laugh, which he was sure to supply. Even in his darkest of days whether he was meaning to or not, the man could get a laugh out of an old family dog. In fact he often said “it’s humor that saves us from despair.” And up until the very last day, he was still cracking jokes that ended in uncomfortable laughter, uncontrollable laughter (sometimes uncomfortable haha). [00:59:09]

Over the course of the past few years, I found myself returning time and again to the station here in San Francisco to be with him. To help how I could. But I also came for that inspiration and that wisdom and that laughter. I met some incredible visitors of his, over the past few years. Physicists who taught alongside at Harvard. Brazilian supermodels who are still in love with him from 10 years ago at Carnival. Famous suit makers. His old pal, Joey Scalone, that made his favorite deli sandwich in New York, with extra Miracle Whip, that they had just there for him. Dancers. Writers. Politicians. Magicians. Janitors from old hospitals. Leaders of biker gangs. Healers. Priests and childhood friends. Each with a different special story of what my dad meant to them. Each with a different lens of the strong love they felt for him. I remember each distinctly, as they were unique.

One of my favorite visitors really helped me understand my fathers impact on the world of the Internet in a way that I hadn’t before. And, to this day, was one of my favorite Barlow interactions. One day, as my dad was in the hospital, and I was, for whatever reason, feeling a little short wired and tired. Two men walked in with baggy clothes and neck tattoos, and I thought “where in the world does this puzzle piece fall on the insane mosaic of my dad’s life?” My dad was sleeping and the nurse asked for us to go in the waiting room. At first I didn’t feel very talkative, but from pure curiosity, I asked how they knew my dad. [01:00:52]

“He saved our lives. One of them said completely candidly. The other nodded.

“Oh yeah? How’s that?” I asked.

They went on to explain in such a poignant beautiful way, that my dad to them was a contemporary noble knight that rode on and rode in on his white stallion, and one of the most dire moments in their lives and swept them out of harm’s way and they owed everything to him.

These guys, I came to find out where a couple of the first original “hackers” The original whistleblowers who cracked the code to access databases for the good of humanity who fought for the truth. They had been thrown into jail for accessing information that should be shared for the public’s well-being and they were looking at extensive prison terms and my dad fought day and night to get them out. He didn’t know them well at this point, but he felt it was important to stand up for what they were doing, but more importantly to stand up for the people’s right to know the truth. (Cheers and applause from Audience.) [01:01:50]

To have access to that truth; to protect the availability that the Internet offered in a way that was more raw and accessible to information than ever before. He knew that this was an imperative thing to fight for, and it was second nature for him to fight as hard as he could.

Those men those men now live in Silicon Valley with successful startups and families. I wish I remember their names; they might be here. But it was a great interaction and it resembles such a small drop in the bucket of impacts that my father has had in his pursuit for protecting free speech. The right to access it and the pioneering of the Internet as we know it. So thank you dad for all of those important things of vital importance now more than ever to my generation, as well as to every generation to come.

If there’s one thing that my dad believed in more than anything, it was that everyone and everything is connected. The fabric of our lives is a never ending network is a never ending network of connectivity, and the internet nerd network mirrors that in a way that fascinated him entirely until his very last day. He said recently in reference to the internet. “I mean think of how expansive it is. It’s just an extensive ecosystem. It’s capable of keeping God company.” Followed by one of his whimsical chuckles. We’re so thrilled to celebrate him today and all of his work in pioneering free speech and just all of the impacts that he had to keep us in line with what’s important about honoring knowledge and truth today.

So thank you so much for being here. Big things to the EFF and the Internet Archive and we look forward to the speakers. [01:03:36]

Transcription by Lisa Rein (Co-founder Aaron Swartz Day & Creative Commons, and friend of John Perry Barlow). Lisa Rein used Teme to start – and then cleaned it up by comparing it to the video, over many days :) Corrections are very much appreciated-please send them to: lisa[@]lisarein.com.

John Perry Barlow Has Left Us Meat Space Folks Behind

We will be remembering John Perry for quite a while, as he was an Aaron Swartz Day advisor and a good friend to this community.

John Perry Barlow (October 3, 1947 – February 6, 2018)

John Perry only met Aaron once, when Aaron was twelve years old. John Perry describes it here.

(Although you often see he and Aaron together in this famous photograph, which of course, was taken much later.)

 

 

The Freedom of the Press Foundation, of which John Perry was a co-founder, has written this piece.

Here’s the EFF’s post, written by Cindy Cohn.

ArsTechnica’s Cyrus Farivar covered it here.

John Perry Barlow Recalls A 12 year-old Aaron Swartz

aaron and john

Although you often see John Perry Barlow sitting behind Aaron in the famous photograph by Daniel J. Sieradski, above, the two of them never actually met each other.

From John Perry on November 8, 2014: “Correction! Aaron and I met and met heavily… But primarily on that one day. We were casual friends later but I think he never got over the initial awe enough to relax and really tell me what happened that day. But he did tell his father.”

John Perry walked up to the front of the room at the very beginning of the “open mic” segment at the end of Aaron’s San Francisco memorial, and explained that they had actually met before, sort-of, many years earlier, when  John Perry came to talk to his school one day, whe Aaron was 11 or 12 years old.

When John Perry ran into Aaron’s father, Robert Swartz, after he had accepted Aaron’s Internet Hall of Fame award last year, he asked if he thought he’d had made an impression on Aaron that day?

Robert replied that he most certainly had.

The rest, as they say, is history.

John Perry Barlow’s speech during “open mic” portion of the San Francisco Memorial, January 24, 2013:

Aaron Swartz was the embodiment and apotheosis of everything that I’ve stood for for the last 25 years, and it is paradoxical that even though that was true, and even though he was profoundly involved with most of my best friends and greatest heroes, I spent almost all the time that I ever spent with him, one afternoon in, I think, 1996, when he really was a very little kid.

I’d been asked by the headmaster of Northshore Country Day to come and speak to the middle school, and, for some reason, there was this 10 or 11 year old that was in among the middle schoolers. And I spent the afternoon – this was a time when, I don’t think there were that many people who felt the way I did about this stuff. Most of them are in this room now. And I was promoting the idea that we could make a world where anybody anywhere could give his thirst for knowledge and his curiosity everything that it wanted to know. And *anybody* could know as much as any human being knew about any thing, in the future. He didn’t say much. He was extremely memorable, however. He was much younger. He was all eyes, and mind, and…spiritual radiance, in a way. And I scarcely saw him again.

But years later… Last year, at one point, when I was with a bunch of copyright barons in Paris at the EG8, and they were all talking about how enforcement and education was gonna come out right, and it was gonna be just like the War on some Drugs. And I happened to be on a panel with these guys. I said “you know, you think you’ve won this thing, or you will win this thing. But the truth is that you’ve turned a whole generation into an electronic Hezbollah. And you will be dead when they are alive. And I was thinking of Aaron Swartz and it’s really very difficult for me to see that he is dead, and they are alive. But he is not dead, and they will be.

****

Historical notes:

  1. This was originally republished on November 8, 2016, and republished on February 8, 2018.

2. This post used to say “EFF and Freedom of the Press co-founder John Perry Barlow will be appearing with Freedom of the Press co-founder and executive director Trevor Timm, and Brian Knappenberger, Director of “The Internet’s Own Boy,” for a Q & A with the audience at tonight’s Aaron Swartz Day celebration.” at the top :)

Discussing Aaron’s Suicide: Q and A at Aaron Swartz Day 2014

brian
Trevor Timm, John Perry Barlow, Brian Knappenberger, and Lisa Rein, during the Q & A panel, after a special screening of “The Internet’s Own Boy” in the Internet Archive’s Great Room, at Aaron Swartz Day, November 8, 2014.

Audio clip:

Link to full Aaron Swartz Day 2014 Video.
The transcript below has been edited slightly for readability.

Lisa: Brian, when you were making this movie, and you had lots and lots of footage, how did you go about deciding which story you were actually gonna tell? One of the things that people who are not familiar with the story sometimes say to me, when they see your film for the first time, is that they are curious about the way that you handled the suicide at the end.

For me, it made sense, because, one thing that I think a lot of us could agree on, when we talked about it, after he died, was that it *didn’t* really make sense. He had had bouts with depression, from time to time, like a lot of people, but it wasn’t really anything that anyone was expecting, or that anyone could go “oh, we knew that was gonna happen,” or, “we were afraid that was going to happen” — that sort of thing.

I liked the way you sort of got that across in the film. How did you decide how you were gonna treat that issue? It was very sad at the end, but you definitely decided not to dwell on it.

Brian: Yeah. I mean, so much was written about Aaron, right after he died. And some of it, at least, had to do with depression or speculating on the role that it might of played in his death. So, I certainly, read everything. I mean, before we even started filming – when I was still in the early stages, I tried to read everybody’s take on it. A lot of people were doing first hand accounts and stuff, but the New Yorker did a piece that was almost exclusively focused on that issue.  And so I decided to take it, and basically just ask the people who were closest to him and try to understand what role it played.

The conclusion I came to is that, Taren, who lived with him during the last years of his life, she doesn’t believe that he suffered from that. Or, that he may have had something like that in his early 20s, but not when she lived with him. His brothers and other people close to him describe a kind of sensitivity, of carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders; the need to want to fix everything, almost. And so I just kind of weighted, based on what I found. I think that’s the short answer.

I think some of that was letting the government off the hook, in some ways. That’s just the conclusion that I came to. That assigning too much to “depression,” was a way of sort of distracting from this two year legal nightmare that would have certainly put anybody in a difficult position.

Lisa: Right. As if it was something where, he could have had a bad day, and done anyway, and not something that he was driven to from the situation. I guess that’s what bothered me too, when people talked about the depression, and they left out the whole part about the relentless, daily persecution by this case on his life.

Brian: Yeah, I mean, people go through worse and don’t take their own life, obviously. So, it was just something that I thought a lot about. I basically proceeded by talking to people who were close to him and trying to understand who he was, and what role that played, and I think I got some pretty candid, and pretty honest answers about that.

John Perry: I don’t have reason to say this, but I’m gonna say it anyway. It occurs to me, even though I know that Aaron Swartz would’ve been a truly extraordinary force in the world, had he lived. I’m not certain that he would’ve been the extraordinary force in the world that he became by dying when he did, and I’m not certain that he didn’t know that. It’s not out of the question in my mind that he made a strategic and very hard decision to allow himself to be a martyr to this cause at this particular point.

Lisa: I thought of that too, except that one would say that making a pragmatic decision about the timing of taking your life isn’t necessarily a sane decision to make.

john perry