back to article Electronic Frontier Foundation chap John Perry Barlow has died

John Perry Barlow, a co-founder of the US Electronic Frontier Foundation, and also a lyricist for the Grateful Dead, has died aged 70. Barlow passed away "quietly in his sleep" yesterday, according to the EFF, which he helped set up in 1990. "It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the Internet we all know and love …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RIP John Barlow

    Sad to hear to of his passing, some great songs on that link though.

    The internet has opened up a whole can of worms, which we are munching through now...

  2. tiggity Silver badge

    Going to be

    Dusting down (hopefully not literally!) some old Dead vinyl & giving it a spin tonight.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Going to be

      You can't go wrong.

  3. Dr Who

    A rock star scientist in the fullest sense. RIP.

    1. EarthDog

      Too bad he didn't go into brain surgery as well.

  4. Stevie Silver badge


    "I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear," wrote Barlow

    Then he attempted to get his modem to connect to AOL. Six tries and various connection string edits and he was in at a mind-blowing 28.8 kbs. He sent his email and went to bed.

    Two minutes later his connection dropped because of a gateway timeout.

    Next morning Barlow reconnected in record time and re-sent his memo just as a high school senior, busy adjusting his stereo while tootling at 75 mph along the road in the Merc SUV his doctor father and lawyer mother had bought for his 17th birthday two days before, smashed into the telephone pole outside his house and removed the internet from the great man for two days.

    Barlow took a photograph of the wreckage with his blue Handspring Visor's Eyemodule and uploaded it to his computer so he could share his fabulous 78.8 kilopixel image of this event with his pals.

    Pole reinstalled by a doughty team of Telephone Pole Guys, Barlow once more listened to the squeals and double bong of his modem connecting to AOL, but he couldn't type anything as his screen filled with annoying chatspam trying to make him visit dodgy websites to fix imaginary problems his computer did not have. The double bong had suggested a way to wait out the idiots, and soon the house was filled with Jerry's sublime guitar work and the smell of Special Smoking Mixture.

    At around four AM the next day Barlow was able to connect to AOL and send his email. A mere two hours later it bounced because the mailbox he sent it to had more than twenty five emails in it. This wasn't discovered until the next next day due to connection issues brought on by noise on the telephone line induced by the reconnection of the cable when replacing the snapped-off pole.

    A call to the phone company (almost inaudible due to the noise on the line) brought swift action and only a week later the line was replaced and the Internet was back!

    There was the usual minute or so of modem connection antics, then the picture was attached to the email and Barlow pressed "xmit". Two nail-biting hours were spent watching to make sure this unusually large upload proceeded without let or hindrance, and history was made.

    "You've got mail" said his computer, in a friendly female voice. It was a note from AOL warning him that large uploads would in future require the purchase of a business account, which would enable him to enjoy up to fifteen 128 kb uploads a week for the low-low price of $50 a month.

    Any further abuse of the consumer-level TOS would be met with instant loss of AOL connection privileges, they wrote. AOL said they were sorry to be so abrupt, but they had been in contact with Compuserve and found that Barlow had a pattern of large, 5 kb+ up- and downloads on accounts properly configured for much lighter, consumer-level usage.

    AOL thanked Barlow for his continued patronage.

    A chat window opened informing Barlow that his computer had a virus and he would need to use his Netscape Navigator to link to a site that could fix it for a very reasonable rate.

    Barlow closed down his computer in disgust and went to play Castlevania on his SNES.

  5. EarthDog

    Also sued oil and gas companies.

    Back in the 90's there was an oil and gas boom in N. Wyoming [1]. The oil and gas companies were their usual cheerful selves; ripping through fences lines, cutting roads through pastures, dumping crap all over the place, etc. So Barlow, being a local boy, gets upset and demands they stop.

    Of course the companies, including Haliburton which Dick Cheney was running at the time, chuckled and said, "you go run off little fella before you get hurt". They thought they were up against a dirt rancher. They did not realize he was a rock star writer with deep pockets and lots of friends.

    So in the end the companies had to give in and reach agreements to minimize damage when exploring and drilling on private land. They coulddn't be stopped as they had the mineral rights, but thy had to make sure the surface rights users weren't impacted.

    [1] I was one of many cynical veterans of booms riding it at the time.

  6. DoctorNine

    "..Some rise. Some Fall. Some climb. To get to terrapin..."

    Bon voyage, JPB.

  7. Barry Mahon

    I tried to get him to come to Europe in the mid 80s, for a conference, but he said he could not "because I know nothing about data in Europe"

    I don't know if he ever did come, or if he ever did learn anything about data here. Of course it was in the days of the monopoly, so not many people knew about data here, some still don't.

    Bye, JP

  8. John Lilburne Silver badge

    Before we all get wet eyed ...

    JPB lyrics

    So instead I've got a bottle and a girl who's just fourteen,

    And a damn good case of the Mexicali Blues. Yeh!

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Before we all get wet eyed ...

      Nowadays those two lines alone would get him a prison sentence.

    2. EarthDog

      Re: Before we all get wet eyed ...

      In the 1800's it was normal. As was life threatening child labor (which, let's face, prostitution is), toxic food (which we aspiring for these days), banks defrauding people, tainted water supply, etc.

      The good 'ole days were not so good.

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