Customer Reviews


29 Reviews
5 star:
 (17)
4 star:
 (7)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Future of the Internet and Democracy
I did the Japanese translation of this book. It was quite an amazing book.
First, Lessig argues that commerce and the government will try to turn Internet into a regulable place, and in order to do so, they will rely on changing the code (or protocol) of the Internet.
Now, regulation through code is problematic, because it is TOO good. If its a law or some...
Published on April 28, 2001 by Hiroo Yamagata

versus
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let's wait for version 2.0
The book does provide a number of insights that the other reviewers applaud. Amongst other things, his conclusion is that changes in Internet architecture will result in more government involvement and will give government the ability to monitor activities and so on. This is fairly obvious, as one would be very surprised if the government didn't play an active role in...
Published on July 18, 2002


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Future of the Internet and Democracy, April 28, 2001
By 
Hiroo Yamagata (Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo Japan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace (Paperback)
I did the Japanese translation of this book. It was quite an amazing book.
First, Lessig argues that commerce and the government will try to turn Internet into a regulable place, and in order to do so, they will rely on changing the code (or protocol) of the Internet.
Now, regulation through code is problematic, because it is TOO good. If its a law or some regulation, you can intentionally choose to disobey it, or rebel against it. With code, you can't do that. He says that this is bad, because a lot of good things in this world depend on the fact that you can't enforce certain laws too strictly. That's where some part of freedom relies on. If regulation becomes too strict, we're doomed.
So, we have to do something about it. We have to force people to create "incomplete" code!! This is the very surprising conclusion of this book. You really should read this, because it sounds too crazy at first glance.
And then, the book becomes even better. He starts discussing who would actually take the trouble to do that kind of thing. And he starts discussing how we should restore the democratic process, and how we are in a process of becoming a world citizen!
It's a book with an amazing scope, dealing with much more than the title suggests. And it's not just some sort of a fairy tale, it's a problem that's facing us as we speak. A lot of people talk about the Internet changing the world, when all they actually talk about is making some petty cash. Not this book. This book will persuade you that the Internet WILL and IS really changing the world. After this book, you're Net crawling will never be the same.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Constitutional Convention for Cyberspace?, July 20, 2000
By 
William B. Warner (Department of English; UC/ Santa Barbara) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace (Paperback)
July 10, 2000 Who or what rules in that romantic frontier called cyberspace? As it evolves into an increasingly central part of "real space," will cyberspace take on the zoned and regulated and law bound character of the rest of civil society? In Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Lawrence Lessig addresses these questions in three different ways: 1) he makes a crucial conceptual articulation between two kinds of code-computer code and law: each entails the sorts of structuring constraints familiar from architecture (code and law as two forms of architecture becomes the guiding metaphor of this book); 2) Lessig sounds a warning about the dangers of the regulated world he sees coming to cyberspace; and 3) Lessig submits a plea to his reader: that we deliberate about the sorts of code(s) within which (remembers it's an architecture) we will choose to live. What gives this argument its conceptual power and plausibility is a series of carefully developed theses about the code of cyberspace, the problem of regulation, and the solution: the deliberation upon a constitution for the digital age. 1: The open code of cyberspace. Since the matrix of cyberspace is woven from code, there is no fixed nature or essence to cyberspace. The Web may have started as a network woven from open software code, thereby embodying an ethos of liberty, but a comparison of the many different networks and network communities (AOL, listservs, avatar based networks, etc.) suggests the variety of different possible networks, the different sorts of social life they enable, and the way they are changing under the pressure of commerce. The code of cyberspace can be rewritten, and that process is going forward at this moment. The openness of digital code can be used to restructure cyberspace so as to subvert the celebrated values of openness (public access, transparency, equality) mistakenly thought to be the Web's essential nature.
2: The problem of regulation. Lessig's book complicates and expands the concept of regulation. Government may regulate by direct laws, but the example of tobacco smoking shows that government can use both direct and indirect means to achieve its ends. But it is not just the government (as libertarians think) that regulates. Instead, regulation in both real space and cyberspace happens through the convergence of the law, the market, social norms, and architecture. Through the centrality of code to cyberspace-it is the infrastructure of every aspect of its functioning-- computer code produces a kind of architecture... and, Lessig insists, "Architecture is a kind of law: it determines what people can and cannot do. (59)" If the basic assumptions of the net were openness and liberty, anonymity and freedom of expression, now the web is being reshaped so that it can become the site for commerce. Commerce requires networks that are closed, secure, and robust, and forms of digital identification that compels a certain form of personal accountability. The powerful new players on the net (business aided by government) have an interest in rewriting the codes of cyberspace. Lessig is most dire and most convincing in his description of the power of networks to control in such a way that those controlled have little or no choice, especially because they don't even know they are being controlled by a network structure that represents itself as nature. Here Lessig's 1999 book rhymes with the most popular film of the same year, THE MATRIX. It is this strand of the book that is "dark" for the way it resonates with those many paranoid dystopian s/f narratives that warn us about a use of technology to create a world of total control. Like Morpheus character in THE MATRIX, Lessig is trying to wake us up ("welcome to the real world," Neo) and scare us into action. Lessig supports the open source software movement associated with Linex. Open code, because it is no one's property, can help users resist the enclosure of the Net in private and proprietary software systems. But Lessig does not see open source software movement as a sufficiently powerful counter-force to the regulatory potential of large corporations aided by government. That is why Lessig's book is something of a call for a constitutional convention.
3: The solution: a constitutional convention? Lessig book insists that the web's architecture shapes the spaces in which we live as well as the quality of our freedom; therefore it is the stuff of politics and it should be open to informed inspection, analysis and control by citizens. This leads to the constitutional strand of his argument. Liberty in real space is not the result of a simple absence of government; instead it is the result of a Constitution that offers a legal architecture to promote certain values (like property, privacy, free speech, etc.) sustained by courts, governments, institutions. In three chapters that are at the core of this book, Lessig offers compelling accounts of how the new technology poses a threat to old equilibrium between intellectual property and a public commons (e.g. fair use), privacy and surveillance, free speech and constraints upon speech and access. Lessig is particularly strong in his survey of the legal implications of the changes brought by cyberspace. Some Constitutionalists will always try to return to the values as defined by the founders of the United States so as to translate them into a new historical context. But the founder's reality and technology is not ours. Our technologies may expose latent ambiguities in the very concept of copyright, privacy, and free speech. This situation requires that we make difficult new choices. In each of these areas, Lessig describes the kind of digital and legal code he favors. For example, he is against privately developed "trusted systems" for enabling a fine grained control of access to intellectual property, for these systems will erode the valuable balance between copyright and fair use that has developed since the invention of copyright.
This is a compelling and important book. It offers a valuable counter-point to those many accounts of the Internet that emphasize its autonomous development and spontaneous solutions to countless human problems. However, I can't help avoiding the sense that I have been led, through admittedly convincing arguments, to an impossible prescription for the way software code should be written and software systems adopted. Thus against the co-equal interaction of law, market, architecture, and norms as constraints (or protections) of the human subject that Lessig's book outlines, Lessig book finally advocates a hierarchical transmission model: Values as defined by Us (at the Constitutional Convention for Cyberspace?) will lead to Code as Law (as defined by legislatures and courts) which will in turn define the possible legal Architectures for Cyberspace, to which the market and social norms will be obliged to accommodate themselves. Could one constrain software and network development in this way? If we could, should we? Perhaps not unsurprisingly, for this Constitutional lawyer, the policies Lessig advocates ends up leaving the crucial step in his reform-the application of values-to the lawyers: "Our question should be the values we want cyberspace to protect. The lawyers will figure out how."(181)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on Cyberspace and a must read for people in the t, June 7, 2004
By 
This review is from: Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace (Paperback)
This is another great book that discusses what is going on in cyberspace today (or 1999 when it was written) first by defining cyberspace as a place where we can create personalities and have the ability to speak like we would never do in the real world. The book then goes on to discuss how the internet is regulated or not regulated and what the internet can and should become.
The book starts out by discussing multiple forms of regulation and just because technology makes it easier to monitor or regulate does not mean that it is right or legal. The book also discusses what things should be regulated and how and who should regulate it. The next chapters go into Free Speech, Intellectual Property, Privacy and other freedoms we have and should fight to protect. The book talks about Open Source vrs Closed Source software and how regulation can and is added to each. One of the solutions of the book is to offer transparent regulation that allows user to know what is regulated. This is possible and is happening now in Open Source software but is not happening in closed source software. This is an excellent book that should help call us to action that will help provide the right kind of regulation while ensuring our freedoms or not reduced. This is a great book and I would recommend it..
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Important Book, October 25, 2000
This review is from: Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace (Paperback)
This book, "Code," is one of the most important books I've read in a long time. His thesis, that "Code Is Law," that the "coders" have become de facto lawmakers, and that we, as a society, MUST understand the importance of the Internet's architecture, is presented in a very clear manner. Lessig has a real gift for taking complex legal/political arguments and making them clear for the lay person.
As a law student, I find it very easy to get lulled into the belief that the major legal and policy decisions have already been made. Such a belief would probably always be mistaken, and it's totally mistaken now. In the next few years, major decisions (with stunning Constitutional and social consequences) will be made. Who will make these decisions, and what the substantive content of these decisions will be, are open questions.
The Internet has great potential -- for both good and bad. What the Internet will look like in a decade, how free it will be, how intrusive it will be, will depend entirely on decisions being made now. This book takes the confusing world of Internet controversies and pulls them together to make a compelling and persuasive call to AWARENESS.
I recommend this book very highly.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing and so much more!, November 28, 1999
Public perception of the information superhighway is this massive and complex place that only the super intelligent have access to control. Lawrence Lessig has other ideas and his book is the definitive answer to those questions and more.
Right from the beginning the book dispels the myth that the world of cyberspace cannot be controlled and regulated. The book also disproves that belief that this "being" is immune from any government or anyone's control.
What Lessig proves throughout the book is that cyberspace is nothing more that hardware and software and we are in control of the future of this colossal giant. The author proves that true "nature" of cyberspace is one that man is forever looking for ways to control.
It takes a great understanding to know that cyberspace is in its infancy and that we must take the right steps to make sure that the next and future generations have something to work with. Lessig has written a deep and complex book, and as is the case with cyberspace we must endeavor to understand the meaning.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent insights into Internet law, February 3, 2000
"Code" provides an excellent discussion of the interaction and tensions between technology and the law.
The author, Lawrence Lessig, is a well-known Harvard law professor. He discusses important Internet law issues, such as intellectual property, privacy and free speech. He also helps explain the book's title: "I think we need better code (in the sense of West Coast code, software) rather than more code (in the sense of East Coast code, laws), with the exception of one bit of East Coast code: a clear statement about who owns... [personal] 'data.' If the law were clear that this data was the property of individuals, and others needed to negotiate to get it, then we would create the incentives for much better code to be developed to protect and facilitate individual choice."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important ideas on the future in a wired world, November 16, 2005
By 
This review is from: Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace (Paperback)
As it is, I spend a lot of time thinking about systems and issues like architectures, law, policy, and even individual expectations. My 2001 book Developing Trust looked at how we can deal with the policy and technology issues that make our infrastructure trustworthy. Though I dealt with the Internet and Web specifically and showed specific examples of actual failures, some readers have suggested that the discussion was somewhat theoretical, or at the very least, blazing the way for practice instead of reflecting it. My recently-published Brute Force is very different, dealing specifically with the issue of Internet cryptography.

Looking at the fall of the data encryption standard through the lens offered by Lessig's Code is instructive. Consider the state of the world in 1997, when RSA launched its DES Challenge.

As a matter of policy, the U.S. Government promoted a cryptographic standard that would be secure against exhaustive key-search attacks for a relatively short period of time. As a matter of law (in the form of regulation), the Government also limited the strength of the systems that could be exported outside of the United States. As a matter of architecture, the Internet is open and easy to access, in many cases using topologies that will allow anyone in the middle to observe traffic being routed from one system to another. As a matter of expectation, individual Internet users considered their online purchases secured, such that attackers would not be able to intercept and illicitly to use their credit card numbers. As another matter of expectation, many in Congress imagined that even the limited strength of the systems allowed by Government policy were "secure enough."

The DESCHALL Project (and RSA's 1997 DES Challenge that it answered) used architecture to change expectations of both lawmakers and citizens. When it succeeded, law (in this case, the regulation) changed to allow a much freer use and export of cryptographic products. Policy followed, with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) being adopted.

After talking recently with Peter Swire, Esther Dyson, and John Gilmore in Seattle earlier this year at CFP 2005 (with "Panopticon" as its theme), I was reminded of Lessig's Code, in which he argued that it is wrong to imagine as some have that the Internet is inherently impossible to regulate, that it can never be restricted the way that the real world has been.

When I returned from Seattle, I re-read some critical parts of Lessig's book. One part that struck me was its central theme, that four primary forces regulate: law, market, norms, and code.

Limited scope helped to made DESCHALL successful. We didn't seek (directly) to change the law or government policy. The project didn't overreach, attempting to use traditional mechanisms of marketing to affect the expectations (or, in Lessig's words, norms) of individual users. Nor did it preach to the proverbial choir, either in the form of those interested in public policy (law) or those trying to bring their products to international customers who demanded them (market). We were attempting to address an area of architecture (code) that created a vulnerability in the form of an attacker's ability to intercept traffic. While many expected that the issue was addressed through "good enough" cryptography, we used the one tool of our focus (code) to demonstrate that it was out of sync with the demands of the market and the needs to enforce the norms of society.

In the six years since Lessig's book was released, things have changed. Some of the less dramatic changes have come in the form of architecture, the code that implements the global computation and communication infrastructure. Mobile phones and PDAs now have greater utility as gateways to the network and these devices have more tracking capability than in 1999, both in the form of a GPS device to determine the unit's position and in the form of wireless personal area networks such as Bluetooth that have side-effects that can be invasive of privacy.

Norms have not changed significantly; as these deal with the attitudes and expectations of people, norms are always slow to evolve. The market has not changed dramatically for the most part. While a whole dot-com boom and bust took place, the simple fact is that companies that offered good services enabled by the Internet succeeded (eBay and Amazon spring to mind), while those that were using the Internet for its own sake failed-the demand for online haircuts and shoeshines never materialized.

The law is one area where there has been more dramatic change, as local, state, and federal lawmakers strive to update their codes to reflect the world's heavy dependence upon Claude Shannon's binary units. Many laws designed to protect consumers and their digital identities have been passed and now organizations that handle personal information are subjected to civil and criminal penalties for failure to adhere to some norms for protecting information.

Further changes have been ushered in by lawmakers' attempts to show their constituents that they care about the citizenry of this country and are doing all they can to protect them from the threat of terrorist attack. Congress is now debating extension of the Patriot Act and adoption of its successor, Patriot II. In Code, Lessig worries about the impact of law on cyberspace, in particular how regulation will cause infrastructures to be built with new provisions that allow the Government to achive its objective to control its citizenry without being accountable as in a transparent legal system. Given the reaction to the Patriot Act-in particular its provision to search library and bookstore records without a warrant-it would seem that Lessig's concerns have been understood and adopted by a significant number of people working in the area of public policy.

Much of the public debate over digital rights has been in the form of negative reaction to proposed restrictions on personal liberty, privacy, and other rights. Someone proposes that the Patriot Act stay on the books rather then expire (as the Act itself called for as passed in 2001) and people react in the negative. Someone proposes national identification cards for each U.S. citizen and people react in the negative. A cartel proposes a combination of technical and legal standards to limit how consumers can use their products and people react in the negative.

In Code, Lessig argues that society must decide what rights it wants to guarantee, what sort of a society cyberspace is to be, from which implementation in code will follow, shaping both the architecture of the markets and the norms of cyberspace. Despite the passage of six years and the huge number of genuinely bad ideas that have been floated, we have very few good ideas proposed to stave off the flow or influence of the bad. There is very little guidance to show how the Bill of Rights applies in cyberspace. Worse, there is apparently no mechanism by which the government cannot hire private industry to do the work that it, by virtue of the U.S. Constitution, would be forbidden from undertaking. There has been a lot of talking, but remarkably little action, and I suspect that will remain true until there is a clear and concise assertion of what privileges and rights are to be built into cyberspace. As Lessig concludes, if our society fails to take advantage of the opportunity that is now present, liberty will find herself on the losing end of a revolution and it'll be over before any critical mass notices.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let's wait for version 2.0, July 18, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace (Paperback)
The book does provide a number of insights that the other reviewers applaud. Amongst other things, his conclusion is that changes in Internet architecture will result in more government involvement and will give government the ability to monitor activities and so on. This is fairly obvious, as one would be very surprised if the government didn't play an active role in the evolution of something as significant to our society as the Internet. In his focus on the future lack of anonymity, he neglects the numerous other factors that will be considered when a new Internet architecture is unveiled. Concerns over things such as network bandwidth, address shortages, evolving presentation technologies will all play as big of a role in deciding the future architecture of the web as government agencies.
I must say the overall writing style of the book is not all that good. It's not that the book is difficult to read; most of the major points are plain obvious. What I found obnoxious is his constant pointing out that he's a lawyer and a professor at Harvard. The layout of the chapters is also bad. It's more of a textbook than an actual book that you might read for leisure. Each section begins with a summary of sorts, telling you what will be discussed in this section and what was discussed in the previous one. For a textbook that one might skim or read only certain parts of this is a good idea, but for a regular book that one will read sequentially this is repetitive and annoying. The editor should give this book another pass before sending it out again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Regardless of its style and structure, this is a IMPORTANT book., June 26, 2005
By 
This review is from: Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace (Paperback)
Lawrence Lessig is not a writer, he is a lawyer. Don't expect his book to be easy nor entertaining. However, it is one if the more insightful writing of its time on the subject of mass media communication and control. For me the strong points are:
1, the Internet has no nature and if you think that it is a place of total freedom, this book will proove you wrong.
2, as a counter effect of point 1, the Internet might well become (if not yet) the most powerful element of control on mass population, leaving television and radio as its poor alpha version.
3, Dr Lessig considers the code used to create the Internet as being the laws of cyberspace, showing us the important distinction between them: code is not something you can oppose to. It is simply a power you are inclined to accept, or put it differently there are *invisible* rules you are *dictated* to follow. That is the theme of the book.
I recommend this book for Digital Media and New Media students, and anyone using the Internet regurlarly and interested in its politics.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hard read, but important enough to make it worth it, December 24, 2000
By 
This review is from: Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace (Paperback)
This book is fairly difficult reading. It is fairly technical both from legal and technology point of view. But the point it makes is important enough that reading it is worth the effort. The point is basically that all of us should think about how we want "cyberspace" to be. It is not naturally any one way. We may have been led to believe that cyberspace is "naturally" libertarian. Lessig does a good job explaining that is the original architecture, but as the internet evolves from the research based ARPANET to the commerce based WWW, new architectures will evolve that will support new abilities for control and monitoring. While I don't agree with all his suggestions (he seems to think that open source code is the answer to most of the problems) I do agree that these issues need to be considered and discussed by all citizens. This book is a good starting point for those discussions.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace
Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace by Lawrence Lessig (Paperback - July 13, 2000)
Used & New from: $0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.