Some of you may find [my] words inexplicable because you live in a happy, Thoreau-like bliss, free of any contact with computer networks. If so, I take my hat off to you. The world of open sky and virtuous sweat, of books and sport and laughter, is no less dear to me than to you. Having an avatar in a virtual world holds the same interest as elective dental surgery. I care about the Web not because I want to live my life there, but because of what it has allowed us to achieve, what it represents for the potential of open science and culture. That, I think, is something that Thoreau (and even Emerson for that matter) might have cared about deeply. Yet, as I suggested earlier in this book, I seriously doubt that we would create the Web today—at least if policy makers and market incumbents understood what the technology might become early enough to stop it.

James Boyle, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind