In Search of Jefferson’s Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace by David Post (Oxford University Press, 2009)
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.
“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
In 1787, Thomas Jefferson, then the American Minister to France, had the “complete skeleton, skin & horns” of an American moose shipped to him in Paris and mounted in the lobby of his residence as a symbol of the vast possibilities contained in the strange and largely unexplored New World. Taking a cue from Jefferson’s efforts, David Post, one of the nation’s leading Internet scholars, here 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.
What law should the Internet have, and who should make it? What are we to do, and how are we to think, about online filesharing and copyright law, about Internet pornography and free speech, about controlling spam, and online gambling, and cyberterrorism, and the use of anonymous remailers, or the practice of telemedicine, or the online collection and dissemination of personal information? How can they be controlled? Should they be controlled? And by whom? Post presents the Jeffersonian ideal–small self-governing units, loosely linked together as peers in groups of larger and larger size–as a model for the Internet and for cyberspace community self-governance. Deftly drawing on Jefferson’s writings on the New World in Notes on the State of Virginia, Post draws out the many similarities (and differences) between the two terrains, vividly describing how the Internet actually functions from a technological, legal, and social perspective as he uniquely applies Jefferson’s views on natural history, law, and governance in the New World to illuminate the complexities of cyberspace.
In Search of Jefferson’s Moose is a lively, accessible, and remarkably original overview of the Internet and what it holds for the future.
About the Author
David Post is currently the I. Herman Stern Professor of Law at the Beasley School of Law at Temple University, where he teaches intellectual property law and the law of cyberspace. He is also an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, a Fellow at the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School, and a contributor to the influential Volokh Conspiracy blog. For more information, please visit: www.jeffersonsmoose.org.