Why we should think of the Internet like a moose, sort of

David Post is all about moose. (Unfortunately, the plural form of moose is not meese, which would have been cool) He’s just published a book titled “In Search of Jefferson’s Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace” which is all about how we should think about the Internet the way Jefferson thought about meese, I mean moose.

He gave a talk (during which I furiously took notes on a piece of paper and later lost, of course) last week at Harvard, covering some of the bigger topics addressed in his book. Although he claimed not to be making arguments, one of his major arguments was that we should think about the scale of the Internet. He said it is scale that makes the Internet, but also scale that might take it down. He likened the Internet to a bridge, saying that it’s holding up fine now, but what if- one day- there are too many cars on it and it falls down? An extreme hypothetical, but in my head, I pictured the bursting of huge fiber-optic cables because they’re not able to accommodate the exponential growth of bits.

How does this relate with Jefferson? Well, according to Post, when Jefferson was an ambassador in France, Europeans were trying to make the case that Old World animals are larger than New World animals, attempting to diminish the significance of the New World. To prove them wrong, Jefferson had the carcass of a huge moose (standing more than 7ft) shipped to France. Jefferson was apparently very into things that are big. Having watched the musical 1776 this past summer in which Jefferson is portrayed as a horny young man and read about how Jefferson hosted live sex shows in his house, you can imagine how disturbing this new piece of information was.

Anyways, Post also talked about some strange moose-related events that happened (coincidentally?) in the course of the book’s publishing. After he had just posted the final copy of the book, there was a huge moose standing in front of his house. And then, just recently, some gigantic animal carcasses were found at the site where they’re constructing the Thomas Jefferson Law School. Talk about weird.

A video of the talk has been posted on the Berkman site- thanks, Dan- and Ethan Zuckerman has a more insightful post on his blog.

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One thought on “Why we should think of the Internet like a moose, sort of

  1. Pingback: Jefferson’s Moose » Blog Archive » Lawrence Lessig Remixes Jefferson’s Moose:

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