A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

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Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself,
arrayed like a standing wave
in the web of our communications.
Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere,
but it is not where bodies live.
We are creating a world that all may enter
without privilege
or prejudice
accorded by race, economic power, military force,
or station of birth.
We are creating a world where
anyone,
anywhere
may express his or her beliefs
no matter how singular,
without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.
We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace.
May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

(excerpt from [Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace], John Perry Barlow (one of the founders of the [Electronic Frontier Foundation]), Davos, Switzerland, 1996)
(formatted after a suggestion by Jean Shinoda Bolen in An Urgent Message From Mother)


It's interesting to reread "A Declaration" 10+ years later. The first thing that jumped out to me was in the title: the interdependencies between cyberspace and the rest of the world have so much more complex and blurrier, it seems to me that we also need one or more "declarations of interdependence". The next thing I noticed is that it's addressed to "Governments of the Industrial World" -- ignoring non-government organizations, corporations, countries labeled as "non-industrial" or "emerging markets" ... and the other citizens off this new world. Well, it was a creation of its time (key battles then as now related to government regulation of cyberspace and then as now the US government was one of the main advocates of repression) and also the author and who he was talking to back then. Point taken: let's try to make the text of declarations of interdependence more inclusive.

Notice however how inclusive the sentiments are. It's a declaration; we're going to create a civilization; everybody's going to be welcome, as long as they are willing to try to leave behind their existing privileges and prejudices.

When people talk about "the early promise of the net" (or "of the web"), and see it as worth fighting for, it's stuff like this that we're talking about.

See also: It's the web, "The Declaration of Cyberfoo Independence" from Rewired, 1996 (not available online as far as I can tell).