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John Perry Barlow - Biography

John Perry Barlow is a lyricist, futurist, author and cyber rights activist. He was born on October 3, 1947 in Wyoming. In 1969, Barlow graduated with High Honors in Comparative Religion from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. John Perry Barlow is a former Grateful Dead lyricist and current co-founder and co-chair of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The EFF is one of the leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to protecting 'digital freedom'. In 1997, John Perry Barlow was a Fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics. He is currently a Berkman Fellow at the Harvard Law School.

John Perry Barlow was born in Sublette County, Wyoming. From these rural roots Barlow began his academic career in a one-room schoolhouse and later attended the Fountain Valley School in Colorado where he met Bob Weir. Bob Weir would later go on to become a member of The Grateful Dead. John Perry Barlow was a friend of Timothy Leary and often visited his facility in Millbrook, New York, Barlow introduced The Grateful Dead to Timothy Leary in 1967. After graduating from college with high honors John Perry Barlow practiced animal husbandry in Cora, Wyoming. He married Elaine Parker Barlow, with whom he had three daughters: Amelia Rose, Anna Winter, and Leah Justine. Elaine and John were separated in 1992. John Perry Barlow was engaged to Dr. Cynthia Horner, whom he met at a convention center. She died in 1994 from a heart arrhythmia.

Barlow began his work with Grateful Dead as a lyricist in 1971. Weir and Barlow began collaboration at after a blow-up between then lyricist Robert Hunter at a show in Port Chester, New York. The collaboration was fruitful and rumored to be aided by whiskey and Native American spell. During this collaboration they wrote the following songs: "Cassidy," "Mexicali Blues," and "Black Throated Wind," "Let It Grow," "The Music Never Stopped," "Estimated Prophet," "I Need A Miracle," "Lost Sailor," "Saint of Circumstance," and "Throwing Stones." Barlow also did collaborations with Grateful Dead keyboardists Brent Mydland then later Vince Welnick. John Perry Barlow most recently collaborating with The String Cheese Incident's mandolinist and vocalist Michael Kang, including their song "Desert Dawn." John Perry Barlow is still keeping his lyrical work alive with collaborations with the likes of String Cheese Incident. Barlow is often seen at String Cheese Incident shows where he can be spotted intermingling with the hippie fans and with the band members. He has also worked with the jamband Mr. Blotto on their CD, Barlow Shanghai.

In 1986, Barlow joined The WELL online community where he served on the company's board of directors. In 1990, Barlow founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) along with John Gilmore and Mitch Kapor. John Perry Barlow drew the public's eye to the Secret Service raid on Steve Jackson Games. Steve Jackson Games is an Austin-based company that had been raided by the Secret Service. One can read about it in the non-fiction book by Bruce Sterling, The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier (1992). The EFF is a leading player in fighting to mandate government access to encrypted computer communications battling laws like the Communications Decency Act. They are a legal and political force in keeping free speech online and limiting government access to personal private data. Barlow gives some of his opinions on copyright laws in a 2004 interview with Reason magazine:

The way most people get paid for work done with their minds is on that basis. Lawyers, doctors, and architects don't work for royalties, and they're doing fine. Royalties are not how most writers or musicians make their living. Musicians by and large make a living with a relationship with an audience that is economically harnessed through performance and ticket sales.
Trying to own intellectual products and creating an economy of scarcity around them as we do with physical objects is very harmful to the development of culture and the ability to speak freely, and a very important principle not talked about much, which is the right to know. I think we have a right to know. It shouldn't be something we have to purchase.

John Perry Barlow was formerly the chairman of the Sublette County Republican Party. Barlow was the western Wyoming campaign cordinator for Dick Cheney during his 1978 Congressional campaign. But due to clashes with Barlow's libertarianism feelings and the neoconservative movement at the turn of the century Barlow joined the Democratic party.

John Perry Barlow has written for a wide diversity of publications, ranging from Communications of the ACM to The New York Times to Nerve°. He was on the masthead of Wired for many years. John Perry Barlow's piece for Wired on the future of copyright, 'The Economy of Ideas', is now taught in many law schools. His manifesto, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, has been widely distributed on the Net and can be found on more than 20,000 sites. Partly as a consequence of the distribution of this text, John Perry Barlow was called 'the Thomas Jefferson of Cyberspace' by Yahoo Internet Life Magazine.

John Perry Barlow is a recognized commentator on information economics, digitized intellectual goods, cyber liberties, virtual community, electronic cash, cryptography policy, privacy, and the social, cultural, and legal conditions forming in Cyberspace.

John Perry Barlow has devoted a great amount of time and energy in helping to 'wire' the Southern Hemisphere to the North and has traveled extensively in Africa. Barlow's Wired piece Africa Rising describes the first of these journeys. More recently, he has been working with Brazil's Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, in an effort to get all of Brazil's music online.

In June of 1999, FutureBanker Magazine (an ABA Publication) named John Perry Barlow 'One of the 25 Most Influential People in Financial Services'. And as his website proclaims

Finally, John Perry Barlow recognizes that there is a difference between information and experience, and he vastly prefers the latter.

John Perry Barlow was a professor of cyberspace at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he taught an Intensive Summer Workshop.