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In Search of Jefferson's Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace (Law and Current Events Masters) Paperback – January 10, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: Law and Current Events Masters
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199858217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199858217
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.8 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,324,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In 1787, Thomas Jefferson, then the American Minister to France, had the skeleton of an American moose shipped to him in Paris and mounted it in the lobby of his residence as a symbol of the vast possibilities of the largely unexplored New World. Taking a cue from Jefferson's efforts, David Post, one of the nation's leading internet scholars, presents a pithy, colorful exploration of the still mostly undiscovered territory of cyberspace--what it is, how it works, and how it should be governed.

Dear Amazon Reader:

Why might you want to read a Jeffersonian natural history of the internet? Perhaps because you know that Thomas Jefferson was a very interesting, and a very smart, guy but you'd like to know more about what he was up to. (Why did he have a moose skeleton and carcass--an acquisition, he wrote, "more precious than you can imagine"--shipped to him in Paris for display in his residence?) Or perhaps because you believe that the internet represents something important, some kind of transformative milestone in the history of human communication, but you don't really know much about where it came from, or how it actually works, or who's in charge.

At bottom, this book is a "natural history" of the internet: what it is, how it works, what shape it has, what kinds of things can be found there, how and why it has grown so prodigiously in size. Thomas Jefferson is the guide; the book is (or aspires to be) the natural history of the internet that Jefferson would write, were he around to write it. One thing I can promise you, if you read my book: you'll learn some things about Jefferson, and some things about the internet, that you never knew before, and you'll see some connections between the two that you never saw before. And I can also promise you that you'll encounter some magnificent prose--not mine, Jefferson's. I use Jefferson's own words as much as possible to describe what's going on out there in the "new world," and nobody could craft an English sentence better than Jefferson could.

To be honest, I don't know whether the book will change your mind about, or give you any simple solutions for, any of the great issues of the day. I was struck, though, several months ago, at the start of the meltdown in the global financial markets, by something Thomas Friedman wrote in his NY Times column: What we have to understand about the global financial markets, Friedman wrote, and what makes them so hard to understand and so hard to control, is this: everything is inter-connected, and nobody's in charge. Hmm, I thought--sounds like the internet. There are lessons to be learned from a deeper understanding of the net; I won't pretend to know what all of them are, but I know they're there, and my book is a way to help you think about what they might be and what they might mean.

Sincerely,

David G. Post


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"An interesting book...[from] one of the nation's leading Internet scholars... I hope you will keep Jefferson's moose in mind in the days ahead."--Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet


"Reading this beautifully written and extraordinarily diverse work today is what it must have been like to know or read Jefferson then. Post has crafted an experience in understanding that allows us to glimpse the genius that Jefferson was, and to leave the book astonished by the talent this extraordinary writer is."--Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law, Stanford Law School, and author of Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace and Remix


"Now and then, ingenious insight yields an authentic work of genius. David Post's musing about cyberspace, the law, history, and a great deal more has produced such a work, conceived and written in the finest Jeffersonian spirit.--Sean Wilentz, Professor of History, Princeton University, and author of The Rise of American Democracy


"David Post is the Jefferson of cyberspace, and in this creative, playful, and entirely original book, he applies Jefferson's insights about governing the American frontier to think about governance on the Net. Even those who don't share all of Post's intuitions will be enlightened by his unique combination of technical precision and romantic imagination."--Jeffrey Rosen, Author of The Unwanted Gaze and The Naked Crowd


"A fresh, insightful, and eminently readable look at cyberspace policy. It's surprising and fascinating how much the debates of 200 years ago continue to be relevant today and continue to be echoed today, even in media about which Jefferson and Hamilton could not have dreamed."--Eugene Volokh, Professor of Law, UCLA


"Jefferson's Moose is brilliant--and a joy to read. It is the book of a career: sweeping in scope, without dropping a stitch of detail. No one but David Post could have produced this sparkling analysis of the relationship between the world and worldview of Thomas Jefferson and today's puzzles of cyberspace."--Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Co-Founder, Berkman Center for Internet & Society; author, The Future of the Internet -- And How to Stop It


"[Post's] book addresses important questions that we all should be asking, and he acknowledges the scope of his undertaking with a candid humility that would have pleased Jefferson."--Greg Ross, American Scientist



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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Douglas C. Shaker on January 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This unusual book takes as its central premise the idea that the freedom philosophy of Thomas Jefferson is relevant to the future of the internet. And Prof. Post makes his case dazzlingly, entertainingly, brilliantly and with much joy. He does a virtuoso job of explicating Jefferson's philosophy, the mechanics of the internet, and showing how Jefferson's philosophy of freedom and governance applies. But this makes it sound like some dry intellectual discussion. No, it is HUGELY entertaining. It's a page-turner, if you can believe it! It is exciting, interesting, fun, and brim-full of fascinating and revealing anecdotes about Jefferson. The pure joy that Post takes in the life of Jefferson practically leaps off the page. Loads of fun and enlightening at the same time.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Thomas F. Lennon on February 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the most unusual piece of non-fiction I've read in a long while, and a dazzling one. Here's the concept: David Post makes the case that the Internet is today's great frontier, the modern era's great unmapped territory (and a universe that, as he explains, is expanding at a pace almost beyond human understanding.) So who better to help us think about that new frontier and how to govern it than the great philosopher/scientist//Renaissance Man of America's early days, Thomas Jefferson himself? The concept is improbable and eccentric and . . .the author totally pulls it off. In an almost cinematic style, the books moves seamlessly back and forth between the days of the Louisiana Purchase, when this vast and ungovernable wilderness lay to the West, and today's attempts by individuals and government to make sense of and manage the Internet. The book's style is chatty and enthusiastic and easily accessible to the lay reader even while the thinking behind it is deeply learned -- the writer is jumping around from law, to evolutionary theory, to the diplomatic history of the 19th Century to Jefferson's torrid love affair with a British noblewoman. And by the end, you're left with a feeling of awe. Awe for Jefferson's bold thinking for sure (and the book is a nice reminder of TJ's greatness, after all the well-deserved bashings he's been taking about slavery), but more, an awe and excitement about the present-day, the world we live in and the revolutionary transformations we are part of courtesy of the World Wide Web.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Eisner on February 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was somewhat skeptical after reading the editorial blurbs but this book fully deserves the praise. The "State of Cyberspace" could be a dry subject but the author enlivens it with his unique approach of using Thomas Jefferson as a tour guide. The snapshots of Jefferson are fascinating and they do, indeed, cast light on the development of the internet. The book is extremely informative, but in addition, the author's personable style makes the book extremely enjoyable as well. Surprisingly, it is difficult to put down. Who woulda thought this would be a page turner? It most definitely is !!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Harry Lewis on February 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I picked up this book because I couldn't resist the title. (Book titles are a really hard problem.) The subtitle is "Notes on the Nature of Cyberspace." I liked it and recommend it, but it's an odd tome, not for everyone.

The key sentence is the first line of the Epilogue. "Though my editor pressed me mercilessly to do so, I never could figure out whether this was a book about Jefferson or a book about cyberspace." The author, David Post, is a law professor. The book is an entertaining and thoughtful discussion of the intellectual struggles at the founding of the American republic, and how they parallel dilemmas about the nature of the Internet. It's all personalized around Jefferson, and some of his contemporaries, Hamilton in particular. The first half of the book is just about Jefferson and events of the 18th century; the second half is about the Internet. Though it's full of fascinating stories, it's written in the form of a series of law review articles, that is, with many pages more than half footnotes, which are very much worth reading. It wound up taking me much longer to read than the page count or informal writing style would have led me to expect.

Here is the metaphor of the title. Jefferson had an enormous moose stuffed and sent to Paris in pieces, where it was reassembled to the general amazement of the local population. It was a new, American thing that was unimaginable to people of the old world. Like Wikipedia from cyberspace, perhaps.

All of the issues about freedom and control about which Jonathan Zittrain writes so compellingly are set here in the context of larger themes of American history. Plus there is a lot about Jefferson I didn't know. Excellent and admirable, -- if peculiar!
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Adam Thierer on February 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Post has given us an enlightening map to navigate the new frontiers of cyberspace and cyberlaw. He brings Jefferson into the story in the hope that TJ's profound thinking on the issues of his time might help us getter a better handle on the cyber-controversies of our own time. After all, Jefferson was a man who spent much of his life thinking about uncharted subjects and frontiers. And law, of course!

Using this approach to help us explore cyberspace and cyberlaw works quite well in many cases. It works particularly well when Post brings TJ's leading intellectual nemesis into the drama -- Alexander Hamilton. "Their feud the longest-running in American political history," Post correctly notes, "for they stood on opposite shores of the great intellectual divide, a divide that encapsulates something fundamental in the way we think about society and government." Jefferson desired liberty above all else; Hamilton stressed order and authority. Whereas Jefferson trusted decentralization and wanted diffuse communities making political decisions, Hamilton looked to a strong central authority to guide the nation.

Many modern cyberspace disputes, Post suggests, can be viewed through this same Jeffersonian vs. Hamiltonian philosophical dichotomy. As Post shows, our Founding Fathers still have much to teach us. My complete review of Post's book is here: [...]
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