Viral Spiral - How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own
David Bollier (2008)


In this book, as with any book, dozens of barely visible means of support conspired to help me. It has been hard work, but any author with sufficient honesty and self-awareness realizes the extent to which he or she is a lens that refracts the experiences, insights, and writings of others. It is a pleasure to pay tribute to those who have been helpful to me.

I am grateful to Larry Lessig, a singular visionary in developing the commons as a new paradigm, for helping to make this book possible. He submitted to several interviews, facilitated my research within the Creative Commons community, and, despite our shared involvements in various projects over the years, scrupulously respected my independence. It is also a pleasure to thank the Rockefeller Foundation for generously helping to cover my research, reporting, and travel expenses.

I interviewed or consulted with more than one hundred people in the course of writing this book. I want to thank each of them for carving out some time to speak with me and openly sharing their thoughts. The Creative Commons and iCommons staff were particularly helpful in making time for me, pointing me toward useful documents and Web sites and sharing their expertise. I must single out Glenn Otis Brown, Mia Garlick, Joichi Ito, Heather Ford, Tomislav Medak, Ronaldo Lemos, and Hal Abelson for their special assistance.

Since writing a book resembles parachuting into a forest and then trying to find one’s way out, I was pleased to have many friends who recommended some useful paths to follow. After reading some or all of my manuscript, the following friends and colleagues offered many invaluable suggestions and criticisms: Charles Schweik, Elliot E. Maxwell, John Seely Brown, Emily Levine, Peter Suber, Julie Ristau, Jay Walljasper, Jonathan Rowe, Kathryn Milun, Laurie Racine, and Gigi Sohn. It hardly requires saying that none of these astute readers bears any responsibility for the choices that I ultimately made.

For the past seven years, the Tomales Bay Institute, recently renamed On the Commons, has nurtured my thinking and commitment to the commons. (On the Commons has no formal affiliation to the Creative Commons world, but it enthusiastically shares its commitments to the commons.) I am grateful to my colleagues Peter Barnes, Harriet Barlow, and Julie Ristau for their unflagging support of my book over the past three years, even when it impinged on my other responsibilities.

In the early stages of this book, Elaine Pagels was unusually generous in offering her help, and my conversations with Nick Bromell helped pry loose some important insights used in my conclusion. Cherry Alvarado was of extraordinary help to me as she transcribed scores of interviews with unfailing good humor and precision. I also wish to thank Andrew Ryder for resourceful assistance in the early stages of my research.

I have dedicated this book to my dear friend and mentor Norman Lear. The zeal, imagination, and grace that he brings to the simple imperatives of citizenship have been more instructive and inspirational than he perhaps realizes. He has also been of incalculable support to me in my headstrong explorations of the commons.

Finally, at the end of the day, when I emerge from my writer’s lair or return from yet another research and reporting trip, it is Ellen and my sons Sam and Tom who indulge my absences, mental and physical, and reacquaint me with the things that matter most. I could not wish for more. David Bollier Amherst, Massachusetts May 1, 2008

License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.

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