Buy My Book!!

After having worked on it for about a dozen years of so (more like fourteen, but who's counting?), my book, In Search of Jefferson's Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace, is finally going to see the light of day some time around the middle of January.

The book has a simple premise: to recreate Jefferson’s analysis of the New World (as he set it forth in his Notes on the State of Virginia) for the "new world" of cyberspace. It sounds pretty outlandish, and I guess it is — but I think it actually works pretty well (though I leave that to you to decide that for yourself). Along the way, we uncover some pretty interesting things about the Internet, and about Jefferson — about network design, Jefferson’s plan for governing the Western Territory, about the protocol stack and the canals of France, about distributed routing, end-to-end design, and the Louisiana Purchase. And about why Jefferson had a moose shipped to him in Paris while he was serving as US minister to France, and why we should care about that.

Early reviews (a.k.a. "jacket blurbs")(including one from the VC's own E. Volokh!) have been pretty complimentary:

“Now and then, ingenious insight yields an authentic work of genius. David Post’s musing about cyberspace, the law, history, and a great deal more has produced such a work, conceived and written in the finest Jeffersonian spirit.” Sean Wilentz, Princeton University, author of The Rise of American Democracy and The Age of Reagan

“Reading this beautifully written and extraordinary work today is what it must have been like to know or read Jefferson then. Post has crafted an experience in understanding that allows us to glimpse the genius that Jefferson was, and to leave the book astonished by the talent this extraordinary writer is.” Lawrence Lessig, Stanford University, author of Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace and Remix

“A fresh, insightful, and eminently readable look at cyberspace policy. It’s surprising and fascinating how much the debates of 200 years ago continue to be relevant today and continue to be echoed today, even in media about which Jefferson and Hamilton could not have dreamed.” Eugene Volokh, UCLA, founder, The Volokh Conspiracy

"Jefferson’s Moose is brilliant - and a joy to read. It is the book of a career: sweeping in scope, without dropping a stitch of detail. No one but David Post could have produced this sparkling analysis of the relationship between the world and worldview of Thomas Jefferson and today’s puzzles of cyberspace.” Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard University, author of The Future of the Internet­ — And How to Stop It

I figure that any book that Sean Wilentz, Larry Lessig, and Euguene Volokh all like must have something going for it . . . I also think that VC readers are pretty much in the bullseye of my target audience — I imagine that there are lots of you who consider yourself serious Jeffersonians out there (and I can promise you all that you'll learn something new about a side of Jefferson you didn't know too much about), and the fact that you're a VC reader probably means you have more than a passing interest in the Internet and things cyberspatial. There's lots of stuff in there to debate and discuss; I'm setting up a book website (now under construction) for that purpose, and I'm genuinely hopeful that the book will help return Jefferson to the center of the intellectual debate about governance and society.

As I mentioned, the book won't be out for another 6 weeks or so, but if you're an early adopter type, you can pre-order it here:

Don't worry — I'll remind you again. :) But I'm looking forward to hearing what you all have to say about the book, and the overall project.

[Thanks to early commenters -- I'll have more to say about how the book evolved over time, and how one writes intelligently about something that changes as quickly as the Internet changes, in future postings. And because it's not clear that the image link to the pre-order page is working properly, here's another, more straightforward bit of HTML code that should take you there:

In Search of Jefferson's Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace


My first thought is, fourteen years ago, the internet as we know it now barely existed. I had it, and I had to pay for hourly access, unlimited internet access was unheard of (or at least, extremely expensive), nobody had broadband in their homes or had heard of a google.

I'm curious how you adapted your book as you saw the internet changing faster than you were writing.
That's an interesting question. I have lots to say about how the book evolved over time, and I'll put up some postings about that down the road. It really was 14 years ago -- I wrote a very brief essay for the Electronic Freedom Foundation website entitled "Jefferson in Cyberspace" in 1994, and that got me thinking .../DGP
12.8.2008 1:46pm
Fidelity (mail) (www):
If I was employed, I would preorder, but I have to carefully evaluate my finances, I hope you understand. I buy books like Thomas Jefferson did, so I will eventually own this. I've read the Notes on the State of Virginia, and I'd like to compare the two, especially the chapters on geography, if you cover it. I do indeed -- if you've read "Notes on the State of Virginia," I think you'll find this book particularly interesting./DGP
12.8.2008 1:54pm
Moose Bites Can Be Nasty:
Just to be precise--wasn't the moose dead? Yup - dead as a doornail. But TJ had the next best thing -- the whole skeleton, plus the skin and horns -- shipped to Paris./DGP
12.8.2008 2:12pm
Anderson (mail):
I was confused -- what does this have to do with guns? -- until I realized I was confusing David Post with David Kopel.
12.8.2008 2:24pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
I definitely am interested in picking this up, especially since I just finished Wilentz's Rise of American Democracy. I'm curious if there would be a way of purchasing a copy and having you sign it David. I'd be delighted to, though I'm not at all sure how that works logistically; I'll try to check and find out./DGP
12.8.2008 2:37pm
David Warner:
Looking forward to reading the book - sounds fascinating. What I can't believe is that you managed to hawk a book about a moose without mentioning your bete noire. Not sure if she'd be relieved or disappointed. Yes, it was bizarre having all that talk going around about moose a month or so ago ..../DGP
12.8.2008 2:59pm
Ex parte McCardle:
That's pretty funny, David Warner, though she'll surely never be aware of the existence of this or any other work of scholarship.
12.8.2008 3:14pm
Prof. Post.

does it have a "political or idealogical" ingradient, or is it strictly a technical/legal/professional treatment of the subject matter?

i ask because if it is tainted by your political view, i wouldn't waste my time. if not, it certainly sounds interesting and i would check it out. Not tainted -- except by my Jeffersonian political leanings .../DGP
12.8.2008 3:57pm
jaed (mail):
You should provide an Amazon link! (The easier it is to order, the more people will do it and put the book in their cart for later. Fewer people will remember and make a note to look again when the book is available.) Marketing is everything. ;-) Hmmm. There IS an Amazon link -- does it not show up on your screen??/DGP
12.8.2008 4:06pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
Just went and pre-ordered it through the link above. Happy to support.

I second Fantasia (the first poster) - in your future posts on this, I'd love to hear how the work evolved over its writing. I had the same reaction that she did - you are bringing out a book on the Internet now that you started 14 years ago?!? Poor soul!

I imagined that you were like that fictional old man who never bought a TV because the new models kept coming out one year after the next - your book could never be published because something new just kept coming up... all a long way of saying that I'd love to hear the story. Well, it wasn't quite as bad as all that :). But I'll do up a posting or two about the book's evolution when I have a chance. DGP
12.8.2008 4:08pm
As soon as I read the post title, this popped into my head:
12.8.2008 4:16pm
Wow Sagar,

Skipping over potentially interesting reading because you're not fond of the author's political beliefs. I suppose that's your choice.

Personally, I enjoy reading the thoughts and ideas of those I disagree with. Occasionally I learn something, but even if I don't it helps keep my mind sharp.

12.8.2008 4:35pm
Crunchy Frog:
Wow, Professor. You only missed beating the release date of Chinese Democracy by two months. Congratulations.

12.8.2008 4:50pm

I didn't say I won't read "an interesting book" if I didn't agree with the author's idealogy. That is why I specifically asked if "this book" has an idealogical component in it. I already am somewhat aware of Prof Post's idealogy based on his posts during the election season; and if this book is kind of sort of similar, I do not want to spend more time on it. OTOH, several of his students had nice things to say about his teaching (non-political subjects). Hence my question.

I am all for diversity of ideas and read stuff from several sources left, right, and libertarian. So, I do understand what you are saying in your second para above.
12.8.2008 4:57pm
Dang, and I thought it was going to be a book about hunting an unusual Moose species (Like Roosevelt Elk). It even has a picture of a Moose on the cover...... false advertising, false advertising........ Where's a lawyer when I need one....
12.8.2008 5:06pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
Here's an exclusive interview with Mr. Post. Well, if I were really good at this book-hawking thing, I'd figure out how to do what Stephen Colbert has managed to do, namely to (a) hawk continually, while (b) not getting people angry, because (c) the joke is all about how awful book-hawking is. Talk about brilliant!!/dgp
12.8.2008 5:31pm
David Warner:

"I already am somewhat aware of Prof Post's idealogy based on his posts during the election season"

Perhaps best to let that slide, as I doubt it (the inexorable topic of his election posts) had much to do with ideology, per se. More generational, if my guess is not too inaccurate...

That the prejudice turned out to be not entirely mistaken is all the more reason to let bygones be bygones.
12.8.2008 5:40pm
TJ had the next best thing -- the whole skeleton, plus the skin and horns -- shipped to Paris./DGP
No, he didn't: moose don't have horns. They have antlers, which resemble horns but are made of bone (horns are made of "horn", heavily modified skin). [Absolutely correct! DGP

(Normally, after nitpicking I just smile smugly at the computer, but now I have an urge to mime moose antlers with my hands to my head...)
12.8.2008 6:08pm
CDR D (mail):
>>>(Normally, after nitpicking I just smile smugly at the computer, but now I have an urge to mime moose antlers with my hands to my head...)


Me, too.

Except I prefer to do the mime with my thumbs on my nose.
12.8.2008 6:58pm
David Post,

Sincere congratulations on your hard won accomplishment!

Not to burst your bubble, but in view of the fact that
a) your work has been hailed as a work of genius,
b) close study of a true universal genius (a common Level 0 mitigation in such cases) not only caused your current mess but actually resulted in your being compared w/ said universal genius,

you're arguably at serious risk of becoming humility-challenged or even -disabled. So in case of need, here's a list of other available interventions:

Level 0
-prepare a handy wallet card of coded mnemonic reminders of your most serious gaffes and shortcomings
Level 1 (for recalcitrant cases; some planning/logistics required)
-get married
-have at least one teenage child
-take up golf

I start charging at Level 2; let me know if you get that far. And good luck.
12.8.2008 7:07pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
I got yer moose right here, spammer.
12.8.2008 9:31pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

(horns are made of "horn", heavily modified skin)

heavily modified hair, IIRC.
12.8.2008 9:32pm
she'll surely never be aware of the existence of this
Ha! She's not smart like Joe Biden!
12.8.2008 11:35pm

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