Remember The Man 2.0 in the Grey Flannel Suit? Lessig’s display–jumpy knees and all–on the Colbert Report has to be seen to be believed. He reminds us again that just like the $1.65 billion Google paid for YouTube, the point of the “hybrid economy” is for value to be captured by everyone BUT the creator.
Lessig made the mistake of going on the Colbert Report to pump his current book (see In Defense of Piracy), a common mistake in the Harvard set (see Nesson interviewed by Colbert about his lobbying for the online gambling industry).
Hulu has the entire Colbert show with Lessig, and the Lessig bit starts around 14:00. (The rest of the show is much funnier, so be sure you watch all of it.)
The key part of the exchange between Lessig and Colbert is about Lessig’s “hybrid economy”. It follows Lessig’s stunning attempt at reverse victimization featuring Lessig pounding the table about a “war” waged against “kids” (meaning prosecuting p2p users for piracy, piracy that some would say Lessig encourages–see In Defense of Piracy). I thought, this guy thinks he can go on a comedy show with talking points.
Smart. Talking points for comedy. Very smart. Original, too.
First of all, the only people (aside from 13 year olds) who use the word “war” to describe anything other than a war are people who have never been to a war. Second of all, the people who ran Kazaa, Morpheus, Grokster, et al are not “kids”. “Kids” don’t write checks for $100 million. So I don’t think that I’m the only one who was puzzled–even quizzical–about what in the world Lessig was talking about.
My favorite part came in the first minute or so. I realized that the world was watching Lessig realize that he was going to get interrupted, pushed around, and generally lampooned and there was not one thing he could do about it. This is a guy who is just not used to being made an ass and that display in and of itself is rather priceless.
I think–and one cannot be sure about these things–I think that Lessig thought that after a very rocky start, he needed to switch his tactic to “Try To Be Funny”.
With Steven Colbert. Right.
And we all know how forgiving comedians are when someone tries to out-funny them. Even when it’s the infirm. Smart. He’s a cagey one, that Lessig.
In the most telling section, Lessig gives the example of Flickr as a “hybrid economy” model (although he could just as easily chosen YouTube but I guess that might have been a bit much given that Comedy Central’s parent Viacom is suing Lessig’s benefactor Google). Colbert tries to understand what he means by “hybrid economy”:
“Colbert: The ‘hybrid economy’ is that everybody else does the work and Flickr makes the money?
Lessig: Don’t tell any anyone!
Colbert: This is like our green screen challenges, they do all the work and I get all the ad revenue?
Lessig: That’s the point, that’s exactly the point.”
Welcome to The Man 2.0
You have to see it to believe it.