From our story in tomorrow’s Mercury News
Further nudging the boundaries of online publishing, Stanford University professor Larry Lessig will put his 1999 book “Code” online Wednesday and invite Internet users to help him write an updated version.
A noted copyright expert and proponent of free software, Lessig is putting his 297-page treatise about technology, culture and regulation on the Web in the form of a wiki, a site that can allow people to freely edit its contents. The law professor will take the contributions at http://codebook.jot.com/ and edit them into a printed version of the book.
“Code has become a part of cyberspace law culture,” Lessig said. “And what I found most interesting is that people outside of the academic world talk about it and use it a lot. I was really trying to find a way to encourage them to contribute to the evolution of “Code.” ”
Lessig said he also wanted to use the process to better understand the concept of wikis.
Lessig is the latest in a string of authors ï¿½ often from the technology world ï¿½ to open up their writings to the public. Former Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor published chapters of his book “We the Media” online as they were written and sought feedback. And East Bay author J.D. Lasica allowed online readers to edit chapters of his book “‘Darknet: Remixing the Future of Movies, Music & Television.”
Similarly, a project called Wikipedia has been building an online encyclopedia almost exclusively from contributions of users.
Lessig’s venture may be the most ambitious yet among book authors. Where feasible, he intends to use significant portions of reader contributions in the new edition. While he has not yet figured out how to handle authorship, Lessig intends to donate any book royalties to
Creative Commons, a non-profit he founded to offer publishers an alternative to traditional copyright licenses.
Palo Alto start-up JotSpot is providing the wiki space for Lessig’s project.
Like Lessig, JotSpot founders Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer have an interest in consumer digital rights, dating back to their founding of the consumer-rights lobbying group Digitalconsumer.org in 2001.
“It was a nice alignment of the things I care about at a personal level,” Kraus said. “And it’s an opportunity to showcase the technologies that JotSpot is developing.”