"Information Wants to be Free"

Gareth Branwyn garethb2 at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Jan 25 22:58:44 UTC 2001

Brand is usually credited with the coinage. If my memory servers
(WARNING: I just got back from a conference in Vegas and haven;t slept
in 28 hours!) it was first used in a special publication of the Whole
Earth Review called Two Cybernetic Frontiers (on computer tech circa the
early '70s). But that seems too early for the quote, so maybe it was a
later article in Whole Earth Review. I've exchanged some email with
Brand over the years, I'll ask him directly.

BTW: The full quote from Brand is:
Information wants to be free - because it is now so easy to copy and
distribute casually - and information wants to be expensive - because
in an Information Age, nothing is so valuable as the right information
at the right time."

The meaning of the statement (minus the second half) is often misinterpreted.

Fred Shapiro wrote:
> I would be grateful for any information as to the origins of the slogan
> "Information wants to be free."  The earliest I find on Nexis is Stewart
> Brand in 1984, but an extremely knowledgeable person tells me she thinks
> it was around before that.
> Fred Shapiro
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
> Associate Librarian for Public Services     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
>   and Lecturer in Legal Research            Yale University Press,
> Yale Law School                             forthcoming
> e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               http://quotationdictionary.com
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------

More information about the Ads-l mailing list