R.I.P. John Perry Barlow (1947–2018)

http://www.davidmcelroy.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/John-Perry-Barlow.jpgYesterday morning, Grateful Dead lyricist and EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow passed away in his sleep.

Rolling Stone has nice obituary for him.

It was Barlow’s lyrics and Bob Weir’s music that had the earliest influences on me when I was first turned-on to The Dead. Throwing Stones and Hell In A Bucket from the album “In The Dark” made their early marks. Mexicali Blues from “Skeletons From The Closet” and Estimated Prophet from “Terrapin Station” followed closely. Then others, such as Looks Like Rain.

I had been passingly familiar with JPB long before I knew his music though. In high school, I found a long article in Harper’s magazine titled, Is Computer Hacking A Crime? It was a long chat-room transcript from The WELL (a pre-world wide web bulletin board system). The chat included JPB, early computing luminaries such as Richard Stallman, and a hacker who would later become more widely known

Hacking was more of the exploratory, curious and creative nature back then. I still vividly recall JPB referring to our ancient ancestors as engaging in “fire hacking.” In that chat article, hacking was a force for good that drove our species forward. The word was only just gaining its nefarious, darker pall for the renegade and destructive activities it is known for today.

Like the other members of The Dead Family before him, John Perry Barlow will be sorely missed.

Thank-you for the EFF. Most importantly, thank-you for the music!