John Perry Barlow, the Grateful Dead lyricist, poet and Internet freedom activist, has died at the age of 70.
The sad news was confirmed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that Barlow founded. “With a broken heart I have to announce that EFF’s founder, visionary, and our ongoing inspiration, John Perry Barlow, passed away quietly in his sleep this morning. We will miss Barlow and his wisdom for decades to come, and he will always be an integral part of EFF,” the site reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Cause of Death Was Not Immediately Clear but Barlow Had Health Problems in Recent Years
How John Perry Barlow died was not immediately clear, but his health had not been good in recent years. In 2015, a heart attack led to other health issues and saddled Barlow with heavy medical bills.
2. Barlow Worked on the Cause of Internet Freedom
The Electronic Frontier Foundation focused on Barlow’s contributions to Internet freedom.
“Barlow knew that new technology could create and empower evil as much as it could create and empower good. He made a conscious decision to focus on the latter,” the site wrote, quotin ghim as saying, “I knew it’s also true that a good way to invent the future is to predict it. So I predicted Utopia, hoping to give Liberty a running start before the laws of Moore and Metcalfe delivered up what Ed Snowden now correctly calls ‘turn-key totalitarianism.’”
Barlow co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Freedom Of The Press Foundation.
3. Barlow Was Born in Wyoming & Met Bob Weir in High School
Bob Weir is a founder of the iconic rock band, The Grateful Dead. It was through high school that Weir and Barlow became acquainted.
“He attended the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, Colorado starting at age 15. There, he met fellow student Bob Weir. John Perry Barlow and Bob Weir forged a friendship that lasted through Barlow’s death,” JamBase reported.
According to Relix, “Starting in the early ’70s, Barlow became the primary lyricist and co-songwriter for Weir’s contributions to the Dead catalog, eventually amassing a collection of songs,” that ranged from “Cassidy,” to “Estimated Prophet,” to “The Music Never Stopped,” and many others.
4. Barlow Was Married With Three Children
John Perry Barlow is survived by his wife, Elaine, and their three daughters.
5. Some Argue That Barlow, a Writer, coined the Term ‘Cyberspace’
Barlow didn’t just write song lyrics. “Among Barlow’s extensive writings about the Internet is a 1990 essay in which he used the word cyberspace—taken from William Gibson’s science-fiction novels—to describe the Internet; that essay is credited with being the first such use of the word,” reports Brittanica.
One of his most influential articles was an article in Wired magazine called The Economy of Ideas (1994), described by Brittanica as “a hugely influential article in which he argued that the nature of digital information and the Internet made traditional intellectual property and copyright laws obsolete.”