Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace

By Lawrence Lessig | Go to book overview

PART TWO

code and other
regulators

Part 1 set up the problem: cyberspace will not take care of itself. Its nature is not given. Its nature is its code, and its code is changing from a place that disabled control to a place that will enable an extraordinary kind of control. Commerce is making that happen; government will help. Before this happens, we should decide whether this is the way we want things to be.

In part 2 we will prepare for that choice. I begin by describing a more complex sense of the life that code makes possible. That's chapter 6. What makes these places feel as they do? What architectures make possible the life within each? And how might that life change as the structures that constitute them—their architectures— change ?

Chapter 7 is about the techniques for that change. Building on the pattern I described in chapter 5, I offer a general model of regulation that is applicable to cyberspace as well as real space. My aim is to convey a sense of the power that government has here, and a stronger sense of why that power will increase—not decrease—over time.

I then describe an important limitation to this power—in terms from the introduction, a structural constraint on government's power. This is the limit implicit in the open code movement. As I argue in chapter 8, the power that government obtains through the techniques I sketched in chapter 5, open code takes away. There is thus a competition about regulability, mediated by the ownership of the code.

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