John Perry Barlow was one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This poet, essayist, rancher and composer of letters was a cyber-activist and techno-libertarian with great visibility between the eighties and the first decade of this century.

De among the most popular figures of cyberactivism of the XNUMXth century, the name of John perry barlow occupies an honorary space. Born October 3, 1948, in Cora, in the state of Wyoming. John Perry Barlow, was the son of Miriam "Mim" Adeline Barlow Bailey y Norman Walker Barlow, a Republican legislator descendant of Mormon pioneers.

John Perry Barlow: education and influences

In the Barlow family home, education was limited to indoctrination modeled by the strict religious standards of their parents. Thus, with adolescence, his academic record was erratic. During his studies at the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, Barlow met Bob Weir, a young music lover who would be very influential in Barlow's life, making him a participant in the history of the band Grateful Deads.

Barlow began his university studies at the Wesleyan University de Middletown, Connecticut. However, at that university he had a dark episode of drugs that earned him two weeks of rehabilitation after a suicide attempt. After these events would be his relationship with Timothy Leary, a writer, psychologist, psychedelic research enthusiast and a whole figure around them. It was his association with Leary, which led Barlow to flirt with substances such as LSD. These experiences were the driving force behind Barlow's departure from religion. Once the rehabilitation was recovered, he finished finishing his studies with honors, specializing in Comparative Religion. During this period Barlow entered the underclass scene of the "Factory " de Andy Warhol.

Before receiving his degree, Barlow was admitted to the Harvard Law School where he graduated as a lawyer. During his studies at Harvard, Barlow devoted himself to writing for the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux. At that point, Barlow enlisted the help of the winning novelist and historian. Paul Horgan.

His life back then would take quite dark turns for over seven years. Time during which he devoted himself to different activities, some of them outside the law.

Portrait of John Perry Barlow smiling

The stormy times of your life

Barlow temporarily scrapped the idea of ​​finishing his novel for the Farrar, Straus, and Girioux publishers. Instead, he took the money from the editorial advance and went on an adventure around the world. For two years, Barlow was dedicated to traveling to places like India where he stayed for 9 months. Upon his return in 1971, Barlow finished writing the novel but it would be rejected by the publisher and would never be published.

Barlow later became a songwriter for the band. Grateful Dead, founded by his friend Bob Weir. For years, Barlow was a regular songwriter for the songs for the band. During that time in which he lived in New York City, Barlow experimented with drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

Despite having a real addiction to such substances for a time, Barlow can react and quit. Shortly after these episodes, in 1972 Barlow's father dies. This event leads Barlow to radically change his lifestyle. Back then, with a family debt of more than $ 700.000, Barlow was in livestock for over 20 years. A practice that would help to overcome the financial problems of his family and his own. However, during that time, her relationship with Bob Weir would continue as she wrote songs for the band.

For years Barlow and Weir maintained their artistic working relationship. But Barlow would take an interest in other areas, one of them more current and vibrant in the mid-80s.

John Perry Barlow in troubled times

Initiation of cyberactivism

The birth of online communities emerged in the mid-80s, generating curiosity in Barlow himself. In 1986 he joined the community The WELL, one of the first cyber communities in history. The WELL was well known for its lectures on political, religious, social and economic issues. But it was also known for having the largest number of fans of the Grateful Dead group, which is why Barlow joined it.

But joining the group took Barlow's attention beyond the limits of the band's discussions. He began to take an interest in the digital world and the activism around him. All this attention led to John gilmore, Mitch Kapor and Barlow met and created in 1990 the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Thereafter, Barlow's activity as a cyber-activist and digital anarchist would be widely recognized. Barlow's participation through the EFF allowed Steve Jackson Games he won his case in 1993 against the Secret Service after 3 years of work. The case was widely known, since the Secret Service, after inquiries against a company employee, seeks to close the company and bring legal measures against all those who were part of it. The defeat of the state in this case created a legal precedent for the digital actions of individuals.

The creation of the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace

With the EFF gaining more and more prestige in the fight for digital freedoms, Barlow had to face a new challenge. In 1996, the US government approved the new Telecommunications Law. This law was an update of the law presented in 1934 and which had governed the country until then.

The law openly sought the privatization and the monopoly creation communicational In any direction. At the same time it regulated spaces that were previously gray, one of them the emerging technology of the Internet. Barlow saw in this law a direct threat to net neutrality and everything related at the time. Privatizing and controlling spaces threatened the evolution of the Internet as it was happening.

Faced with this, on February 8, 1996, Barlow presented in Davos (Switzerland), during the presentation of the World Economic Forum, your master document: the Cyberspace Declaration of Independence. This document sought to make clear to the world and its governments that cyberspace was a place beyond its borders and laws. One who did not bow to his interests and who, above all, would remain open and free to all without prejudice.

The presentation of the document quickly brought Barlow to everyone's mouth. While the document as such was copied, distributed and published on thousands of sites.

Other jobs as cyber activist

His work as a cyber activist continued at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. For years, Barlow promoted measures and activities against the reduction or control of digital liberties.

His work also led him to become a member emeritus of the Berkman Center for the Internet and the Society at Harvard Law School. He was a member of the advisory board of Diamond Management & Technology Consultants (1994-2008). He was also a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and became a professor of cyberspace at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

During the last years of his life, he spent much of his time lecturing and advising on civil rights, freedom of expression, the state of the internet, and the EFF.

His life and career would end on February 7, 2018, at the age of 70. During his life, Barlow would dedicate great efforts to the fight for digital liberties. Freedoms seeking to guarantee free access to information, culture and knowledge worldwide. All thanks to the protection of the projection of a world without borders or prejudices in cyberspace.