Friday, November 02, 2007

The Lessig lecture at the UW

I had the great fortune to listen to Professor Lawrence Lessig tonight. I've been a fan of his ideas (free culture, code as law, etc.) as well as his presentation style. Well, I got to see all of that at the lecture. His speaking style is even more impressive in person. He tied together a good deal of the work he's done over the years, including a preview of his new work on corruption, which the audience wanted him to speak on in the the Q&A that followed the presentation.

The presentation itself is a little hard to explain for me, because it dealt with so much material, and yet I didn't miss a heartbeat of it. The first part of the lecture dealt with the question posed in the title advertised: Is Google (2008) Microsoft (1998)? Short answer: yes and no, but don't assign morality labels to businesses (much like you shouldn't assign them to technology), because they're interested in only one thing: making the shareholders happy. The second part explained the "new" model of content distribution and ownership, and how Google and Facebook, for example, still don't exactly "get" it (c.f. the Google Maps API TOS or the Facebook Apps Developer TOS).

In all, I am very glad that I got to see Lessig speak in person when he came around to this area of the country.

Edit: Here's a tangentially-related Slashdot post: Google As The Next Microsoft? Also: Not Evil != Unselfish

No comments: