Innovation in an age of austerity

This lecture by Eben Moglen* of Columbia Law School is the most important thing I’ve seen in ages. It’s 90 minutes long (45 minutes talk + 45 minutes Q&A), so you need to make yourself a coffee and book some time out. But it’s worth it. And if you’ve really, really busy, then there’s a useful — but not comprehensive — set of notes by Stephen Bloch here.

Cory, who first alerted me to this, has ripped the audio so another way to access it is to put on an MP3 player and listen to it on the train or in the car.

Cory described the talk as “one of the most provocative, intelligent, outrageous and outraged pieces of technology criticism I’ve heard” and I agree. It’s also a useful antidote to the greatest evil of all — conventional wisdom.

*Footnote: For those who don’t know him, here’s a useful brief bio:

Eben Moglen has been battling to defend key digital rights for the last two decades. A lawyer by training, he helped Phil Zimmerman fight off the US government’s attack on the use of the Pretty Good Privacy encryption program in the early 1990s, in what became known as the Crypto Wars. That brought him to the attention of Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU project, and together they produced version 3 of the GNU GPL, finally released after 12 years’ work in 2006.

Today, he’s Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, Founding Director of the Software Freedom Law Center and the motive force behind the FreedomBox project to produce a distributed communication system, including social networking that is fully under the user’s control.