The Future of Ideas

1 minutes estimated reading time

I was curious to read Lawrence Lessig‘s The Future of Ideas because of Google’s recent intervention in the ongoing wireless spectrum auction being held in America. Google sought to get slivers of American wireless spectrum in the 90MHz space with a view to providing an alternative form of broadband access.

This would be a challenge to the cable TV incumbents. It is unusual to see an online media property look to extend itself into network infrastructure. It indicates a broader desire to get into a rent seeking position. The Future of Ideas is the antithesis of this viewpoint with a view to make data and ideas more fluid in terms of adoption and consumption.

The Future of Ideas builds on previous writing he has done around creative commons and guides readers through the complex relationship between connectivity supply, media platforms and intellectual property. The story moves from the start of the media and the telecoms industries through the current struggles of the media industry to come to terms with the internet as  a baseline platform of distribution and consumption.

Lessig highlights some of the current challenges in intellectual property laws throughout old and new media in an articulate and highly readable manner. Some of his ideas make uncomfortable reading for established media / software players. His work as a definite agenda that is broadly in line with the libertarian stance taken by many technology and web pioneers, with regulation only considered warranted to keep platforms open. The move to keep platforms open comes at a critical time when platforms such as LinkedIn are becoming closed in nature and data portability is becoming much more difficult.

Downsides to book

My main criticism of the book would be that it does not take enough of an international viewpoint, but focuses almost exclusively on America. More book reviews here.