4 The revolution: disruptive innovations enabled by the Net

4.1 Creativity and innovation before and after the Net

The real world (‘real space’ as it is called in The Future of Ideas) is a world of physical things. These are governed by the laws of nature (or the laws of physics). When Lessig talks about ‘real space architecture’, he is referring to the laws of nature, not just buildings and bridges. The laws of nature limit what can be done in real space. We cannot travel faster than the speed of light, for example. Gravity prevents us from jumping from a standing start over the top of a tall tree, without some kind of artificial aid such as a jet-propelled backpack. The laws of nature – the ‘architecture’ or the code layer – of the internet are different and impose different constraints and freedoms. This internet architecture is entirely artificially created and can, therefore, be changed.

This section looks at the kinds of thing that restricted creativity before the internet existed and how some of those constraints were released when the Net came along. It also looks at some examples of the explosion of innovation facilitated by the Net. It is based on Chapters 7 and 8 of The Future of Ideas, plus a small part of Chapter 3.

Chapters 7 and 8

Chapter 7 looks at creativity in the arts and commerce during Lessig's ‘dark ages’ – before the internet came along – and whether copyright laws provided a balance between free and controlled resources.

Chapter 8 looks at some of the important innovations arising out of the Net, such as Napster and peer-to-peer technologies.

Read Chapters 7 and 8 of The Future of Ideas, linked below.

Click 'view document' to open Chapters 7 and 8 of The Future of Ideas.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke

4.2 Creativity in the ‘dark ages’