Free Kodak

kodak brownie Larry Lessig‘s book Free Culture has been sitting on my bedside shelf for a few months now – I don’t read right before bed much, and if I do, it’s usually from one of the talismans I keep in the same pile: Siddhartha, The Little Prince, Borges

But a few nights ago I spotted a passage early in the Lessig book that sounded like a familiar argument. Lessig writes of the social impact that the first easy-for-everyone snapshot cameras had:

“…the Kodak camera and film were technologies of expression. The pencil or paintbrush was also a technology of expression, of course. But it took years of training before they could be deployed by amateurs in any useful or effective way. With the Kodak, expression was possible much sooner and more simply. The barrier to expression was lowered. Snobs would sneer at its “quality”; professionals would discount it as irrelevant. But watch a child study how best to frame a picture and you get a sense of the experience of creativity that the Kodak enabled. Democratic tools gave ordinary people a way to express themselves more easily than any tools could have before. [my emphasis]

What’s the next “democratic tool” that will put the means of communication in the hands of those who previously faced more barriers to self-expression?