Larry Lessig on Corruption - In Government and Elsewhere
by Mike Connery, Sun Oct 14, 2007 at 08:27:58 AM EDT
Update: Hmmmm....I just noticed that the video won't play properly. This has something to do with the fact that Scoop doesn't like parts of the video embed code. If anyone knows how to make it play, please leave a comment. In the meantime, here's a direct link to the Google Video.
This is not my usual fare, but I watched this lecture by Professor Lawrence Lessig this morning and thought that it was important enough - and sufficiently connected to politics - to be worthy of some attention.
If you don't know him, Lawrence Lessig is a Stanford professor most famous for his work on copyright, and he has decided for the next 10 years to focus his efforts on battling corruption. This is his first lecture on the subject. He's talking about corruption in government (money in politics), but also more generally about corruption in the sense that money incentivizes certain practices that it shouldn't, creating failures in supposedly free and peer-reviewed markets.
In light of what has been uncovered in the student loan industry, the relationships between our government officials and companies/contractors in Iraq, and the failures of our government to take action on global warming despite an overwhelming scientific consensus on the subject, this issue of corruption seems particularly relevant to any discussion of politics. Lessig is making important points about the underlying reasons as to why our government is failing on these and other issues that are of high concern to voters.
Towards the end he gets at solutions, giving props to new organizations that use technology and peer production to increase transparency in the system, like MAPLight, and the Sunlight Foundation, but ultimately sees traditional reform and new technology as only part of the solution. Most specifically he's calling for us to figure out how to change the cultural norms that enable corruption. It's a long lecture, but the 65 minutes is well worth your time.