I’m old enough to remember the days when many people seriously believed that America Online’s gated content was the wave of the future.  Over at Cato Unbound, Adam Thierer takes apart Lawrence Lessig, influential past prophet of techno-doom:

Had there been anything to the Lessig’s “code-is-law” theory, AOL’s
walled-garden model would still be the dominant web paradigm instead of
search, social networking, blogs, and wikis. Instead, AOL — a company
Lessig spent a great deal of time fretting over in Code — was forced to tear down those walls years ago in an effort to retain customers…


…Lessig admits things haven’t turned out to quite as miserably as he
predicted they would, yet he quickly reassumes his
skunk-at-the-cyber-libertarian-garden-party posture by noting, “I
concede that some of the predictions made there have not come to pass —
yet. But I am more confident today than I was then,” he proclaims. More confident? Can he muster any evidence
to support that assertion? I suppose we’ll have to wait another decade
or so to see if Lessig’s continuing cyber-pessimism is warranted, but I
remain an unrepentant techno-optimist — and, at least so far, I
generally have history on my side.

The funny thing about the Internet is that economic literacy probably leads one to underestimate it.  After all, in what other market do people eagerly supply high-quality products for free?