Lessig Addresses Crazy Linux Users at LinuxWorld

Creative Commons advocate Lawrence Lessig opens the LinuxWorld Conference with a keynote on the open-source revolution.

The attitude at LinuxWorld Conference and Expo was exuberant. The conference, which started on Tuesday in San Francisco, hosted Linux developers and enthusiasts who together celebrated the 15th anniversary of an operating system (OS) that did what most people thought was impossible: it challenged Windows.

The conference began with a keynote presentation by Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at Stanford University and author of Free Culture, who called Linux enthusiasts the "crazy ones" with a dream that materialized. Lessigs speech was a call to action for the underdogs of the OS world to create open-source software in order to create what he calls a "read-write culture" as opposed to a "read-only culture."

"What is read-only culture in the digital age? Its an Internet that can increasingly protect the control that the copyright owner has over that content," Lessig said. "In that sense, the law embraces the read-only Internet. At the same time, there is a different Internet being built. A read-write Internet built by companies much more interested in how people create and share their creativity."

Lessig showed clips of music videos made with Japanese anime characters, montages of George Bush and Tony Blair set to love ballads, and other political video projects. Lessig said that in this era of Web 2.0 user-generated content, the digital rights management (DRM) debate will determine whether creativity and collaboration will either be encouraged or stifled.

"This is digital creativity," he said. "Its the creativity that this culture begs for. What is new is that this capacity has been democratized. Anyone with a $1,500 computer can take images and sounds and mix them in a way to express political ideas and cultural criticism in the most powerful way we know how: a digital video. This is the literacy of the 20th century and its potential is to revive the read-write culture."

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