Lawrence Lessig will receive a Lifetime Achievement Webby Award for co-founding Creative Commons and "standing up for collaboration." This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Web, making the timing of an award for a man thought of by many as "a true hero of the open, collaborative Web" more than fitting.
In February, Lessig gave this keynote address at the SCALE 12x conference: "Only You Can Get This, So Where Are You?" In it, he gives an account of what he believes has gone wrong with government and how the open source way is a key to fixing it.
Harkening back to the argument of his book One Way Forward, Lessig says that our Republic, defined as a representative democracy and a branch "dependent on the people alone," is under attack from campaign funding practices that are corrupting our leaders and laws.
Funders of political campaigns are only 0.05% of the American population—or 150,000 people out of 300+ million.
Lessig also shares a moving story about conversations with Aaron Swartz that ultimately led him to take up the cause of confronting corruption by starting www.rootstrikers.org.
I'm here to do, what he [Aaron Swartz] did seven years ago. I'm here to recruit you. To this cause of cluefulness. To the cause of changing us from cows into ants. In building an awareness, necessary to save this Republic. Now you'll tell me, not your field. It's not your field. And I get it, as technologist, it's not your field. But as citizens. As citizens. Now I'm not asking you to devote your life to it, the way Aaron asked me to devote my life to this. I'm not as persuasive as he is. But I am asking for some cycles... This movement is starved for people with your skill.
Recently, Lessig launched a citizen-funded and crowdsourced superPAC at Mayone.us. The goal is for the public to fund candidates committed to reform in five races in 2014.
How can the open source way help?
- Open exchange and transparency
Documenting and viewing campaign dollars to understand how they are gained and spent; open to the public.
- Participation and community
Unleashing an incredible amount of energy and passion by organizing like-minded people to action, like in the New Hampshire Rebellion #NHR walk.
- Rapid prototyping
Throwing ideas out there and trying as many as possible, to shift minds and initiate action. Then, asking people to critique them and give feedback.
Bringing information about the cause to broad and diverse audiences by making materials freely available and accessible on the Internet.
Video: Only You Can Get This, So Where Are You?
View the complete collection of stories for Open Government Week.