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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2009
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
on February 13, 2009
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
on February 16, 2009
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
on February 20, 2009
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
on February 4, 2009
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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2009
This is a really great introduction to ideas that will be heard more and more as the Internet continues to develop. How exactly does the Internet work? Who is in charge of the Internet and who should be? How should law function in such an international community? What can we learn about the answers to these questions by looking at the history of the U.S.? Viewing these questions through the lens of Thomas Jefferson's writings makes for a great read. Highly recommended.

Notes on the Kindle version: Like all books I've ordered from Amazon for the Kindle, there are several dozen formatting issues, the most frequent being misplaced returns in the middle of a paragraph. Honestly, can someone do a little proofreading? Fortunately, this didn't take away from the content of the book, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
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on March 16, 2015
Classic blend of scholarship and entertainment. Read the main text for entertainment and the exhaustive footnotes are for scholars in us all.
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on May 26, 2013
It was a good read. Learned a lot about Thomas Jefferson that I did not known. In fact I will probably look for more books about Jefferson.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2009
Both informative and amusing, this book weaves its topics togeather in a way that is most intersting. A delightful read.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2009
This is a great read. The author takes you by the hand as you explore frontiers both actual and virtual. You'll come away knowing a lot more about the birth and growth of cyberspace than you did before.
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