The end of corruption, brought to you by Lawrence Lessig and powered by millions of us

Lawrence Lessig is a genious. He decided to dedicate the next 10 years on ending corruption (after spending the past 10 years on reframing copyright issues), there is really an hope that a vast movement will self-aggregate around him and got an unstoppable momentum. After watching his tv interview (embedded below), I’m really optimistic a solution to this plague can be found.

6 thoughts on “The end of corruption, brought to you by Lawrence Lessig and powered by millions of us

  1. ivana

    As most of the popular culture these days comes from the US, it was somehow easy for the rest of us to understand and import Lessig’s formula of alternative licensing into our legislatives and the way of thinking. On the other hand, living in the society that has the corruption in it’s own roots, i just can’t see how it could work in (southern) Europe. Waking up one day, seeing that politicians have become transparent and controllable sounds too good to be true to me. Do you think that Lessig’s future formula could be universal enough to work outside of the US too?

  2. paolo Post author

    I don’t think politicians will become transparent and controllable just by miracle because at a certain point the see the light or feel it is the right thing to do. I’ve thought a lot about what I would do if I would be a politician: it is hard to admit but I have a strong feeling I would be like the average Italian politician (using the power for my own interest, not all of them do it, but most yes).
    What our politics needs is grassroot control, today journalism is not able to do this (at least in Italy), the new instruments (2.0) of peer production and citizen journalism can achieve this. There will be other problems, of course. But at least our politicians will not keep thinking they have absolute power of doing whatever they want just because there is no way we can know what they are doing.

    > Do you think that Lessig’s future formula could be universal enough to work outside of the US too?
    I understand your concerns totally, but I believe that Lessig can set an example, a working example, that other citizens of other countries can adapt and import. Do you think anyone else is in this position? Me? Not in a million unfortunately. You? I don’t know. Someone in Germany? Don’t know. But let us face it, Lessig has an audience of followers that span the entire world, it is an awesome reputation for what he was able to do with the copyright issue, he is in the cyberlaw department at Harvard that is full of amazing brains (Yochai Benkler, David Weinberger, Ethan Zuckerman, Charles Nesson, …). If there is someone who can do it, who decided to be committed to this for the next 10 years, well, Lessig is the one.

  3. ivana

    Watching a news these days, I was thinking a lot about Lessig and the discussion we had here. As much I appreciate his aim to use the power and visibility he achieved to shed a new light on the old topic, I don’t see the internet as a magic wand that could establish fair society for us, at least not without strong civil society and well-established democracy. No matter if we like it or not, but the US are built on strong democratic tradition (at least for privileged ones:). On the other hand, here in Balkans [I’m writing from Croatia], there’s, as Churchill once said, “too much history per capita”. Thanks to it’s WWII allies that wanted to make sure it wont become too left, Italy never went trough post-war process, and it never developed stable democracy. So, neither of us is living in a “normal” democratic society. Append the fact that there’s no general public powerful enough to put a pressure to the politicians, and what you get? Turn on TV, and you’ll see. A blogger was arrested yesterday in Croatia, because six months ago he published the evidence of the things we already knew. Italian secretary of justice is under investigation because of illegal use of public funding, and he’s blackmailing the government calling for the elections… Why are they doing it? Because they can. The power of the internet doesn’t help much in here, we already know the facts, but will keep our mouth shot and, once again, cast our ballots. What is needed is a process of empowerment, learning the technics of pressure, and then the internet will be useful as a tool for dissemination of information.

  4. paolo Post author

    I didn’t know about the quotation “too much history per capita”, very interesting thanks!

    I agree with what you say and I think we then agree about Lessig’s initiative power.
    You write: “What is needed is a process of empowerment, learning the technics of pressure, and then the internet will be useful as a tool for dissemination of information.” I think Lessig has precisely this in mind, the wisdom of the crowds, the wikipedia model, the citizen journalism, we the media.
    I don’t have a tv and I know most of the people in Italy swallow everything TV feed them with (we had BerlusKoni, right?) but this thing is rapidly changing. In 10 years tv will not have the power it has today. We need to start today to funnel the change (whatever “funnel” means… ;-)

  5. ivana

    I must admit that I’m a bit dubious on the whole “wisdom of crowds” concept. History teaches us that crowds are easily manipulated, and their choices often led to the catastrophe. I don’t even believe in Grillo’s concept of anti-politics (I’m writing this because I’m seeing the traces of it in what you wrote, correct me if I’m wrong), because I see it as a populist oversimplification.
    When it comes to the TV, I lived 10 years without it, and when it entered my home again I developed some watching habits that keep me informed on what’s relevant in my environment, because from what I receive in my RSS reader it’s impossible to distinguish. I guess that, once that you learn how to read between the lines, you can’t be that easily fed with the crap they offer you. Or at least I hope so… :D

  6. paolo Post author

    I’m afraid of the “Wisdom of the crowds” hype as well. The fact, I think, is that the author did not argue that crowds automatically produce always wisdom, quite the opposite. Only under some conditions this happens, which are these conditions? This is what everyone (Lessig in included) is thinking about, no?

    I agree about the fact Grillo phenomenon is not an example of wisdom of the crowds but of quasi-sheep following a leader. See

    About your tv view pattern, I think you acknowledge that culture has to be shaped by something that is more powerful (as an information source) than others (tv in this case). I don’t like this situation and I hope we can move to a totally decentralized system in which there is no more a central informative unit to which we can resort in order to understand “ok, what is really going on in my place? What is our collectively imposed reality? What I can be sure my neighbours have been exposed as well? What is actually our common culture?”
    There is a risk in moving away from the mass media model but also opportunities for a more equalitarian society. See

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