John Perry Barlow, who died in San Francisco last week at age 70, was an important pioneer for internet freedom. But he was much, much more than that. He was the kind of Renaissance Man that today’s internet moguls can’t even dream of emulating. And that is a huge loss for the world of technology — and the world at large.
Barlow’s wide-ranging influence
You may not have heard of Barlow, but you’ve probably been influenced by him in a wide variety of surprising ways. For one thing, he was a co-founder — and at his passing, vice chairman — of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is considered “the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world.” Back in 1990, when the EFF was formed, Barlow helped popularize the term “cyberspace.” He was a director of the WELL (Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link), the seminal online community, and he was an influential early voice at Wired magazine.