13 July 2008

The New Promulgation (Snippet of the Moment)

Earlier on Twitter I wrote that Lawrence Lessig was the coolest lawyer / code man. I am currently reading his Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. Published in 1999, the book is somewhat dated (especially since we're talking about the Web here), but I still think Code is hip.

Code is hip because we're talking about the new promulgation. Legislatures promulgate rules. These rules become the code that regulates our conduct and behavior. But another group of folks promulgate rules: software developers. These folks promulgate in the form of HTML and a variety of other languages.

In his chapter on regulating code, Lawrence writes:
"Congress passes an endless array of statutes that say in words how to behave. Some statutes direct people; others direct companies; some direct bureaucrats. The technique is as old as government itself: using commands to control."

Software developers create their own commands. These commands, in turn, control "killer apps" like micro-blogging tool Twitter, allowing journalists (or anyone else) to send realtime tweets on the political debate from inside town hall. That's just one example of what Twitter can do. And Twitter, like other like-minded programs, is a product of the new promulgation.

I love an un-regulated Web. It's good to see the average citizen make some rules.