Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Free Speech and the Long Tail

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, whose 1919 dissent in Abrams v. United States eventually formed the basis for modern First Amendment law.

"The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market," Holmes wrote. "I think that we should be eternally vigilant," he added, "against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death."

This "competition for acceptance within the marketplace of ideas" sounds like an excellent governor in a more linear hierarchical society, but in a postmodern age this changes to multiple marketplaces. And long tail economics positively blows up the "competition" part of the jurisprudent reasoning.

Welcome to the 21st century, it should be an interesting ride.

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