Former lyricist and defender of an open internet, John Perry Barlow, has died. Shortly thereafter, Barlow and Mitch Kapor, the creator of Lotus 1-2-3, organized a series of dinners with leaders of the computer industry for discussions that would lead to the creation of the EFF.
The EFF's Cindy Cohn said "major parts of the Internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow's vision and leadership".
We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.
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Also from Barlow's declaration, foreshadowing: "In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace". In a 2004 interview with Reason, Barlow was prescient about how the internet would evolve as a business platform. He co-founded the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
Earlier in his life, Barlow was a lyricist for the Grateful Dead who co-wrote songs such as "Cassidy", "Mexicali Blues", and "Black-Throated Wind". He graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, with a degree in comparative religion.
Barlow also collaborated with singer/guitarist Bob Weir, but also co-wrote with keyboardist Brett Mydland. Entertainment sites are now lamenting the loss of a poet turned Grateful Dead lyricist.
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He later returned to Wyoming, where he ran the family cattle ranch for almost two decades and dabbled in Republican politics. (Jaqueline Onassis sent John F. Kennedy Jr.to work as a wrangler there in 1978.) Barlow remained there for nearly 20 years while continuing to contribute lyrics to the Grateful Dead. His survivors include three daughters, Amelia, Anna and Leah, and a granddaughter.
Barlow was a cofounder, with legendary whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a free speech nonprofit started in 2012.
The essay was credited with helping popularize the term "cyberspace", coined by science-fiction writer William Gibson in 1982, and began with a utopian flourish: "Governments of the Industrial World, you tired giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind".
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