In Chapter 5 of Lawrence Lessig's most recent work, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, he uses his experience at the Goethe Institut in Berlin to exemplify the importance of blogging, which is often misunderstood.

I was once a student at the Goethe Institute in Berlin.1 After a week of our monthlong intensive German course, I asked the teacher why we weren't encouraged to speak more. "Your German is really quite awful just now," she told me. "You would all make terrible mistakes if you spoke, so I think it best if you just listen." No doubt her assessment was right. But, amazingly for a language teacher at the Geothe Institute, she was simply missing the point. (92)

Within this leading paragraph Lessing preferences his upcoming argument about the value of blogging (which encompasses a certain type of remixing) with a example that I can personally relate to. No doubt this instructor represents a classic minority in language instruction. Without the opportunity to practice a language orally a student will struggle to advance his or her abilities. As a student of the Goethe Institut in Freiburg and Boston, an employee at the Geothe Institut in Washington D.C., and later a German major at the George Washington University, I find this exemplary experience of particular importance. My experiences have taught me the importance of constant practice that is accompanied by repeated correction. If one doesn't make errors, then it is impossible to make corrections and therefore difficult to advance in a language. These principles, however do not just apply to language acquisition. As Lessig continues to explain, the same basic assumptions can be applied to blogging, and therefore towards any other subject of interest (since blogging is as flexible as a person's interests). In the following paragraph Lessig goes on to state:

So too do critics who argue that the vast majority of remix is bad. Think again about blogs. The value of blogs is not that I'm likely to find a comment that surpasses the very best of the New York Times. I'm not. But that's not the point. Blogs are valuable because they give millions the opportunity to express their ideas in writing. And with a practice of writing comes a certain important integrity. A culture filled with bloggers thinks differently about politics or public affairs, if only because more have been forced through the discipline of showing in writing why A leads to B." (92)

Within this paragraph we find Lessig's primary argument against the belief that blogging is nothing more than low quality personal ramblings. Blogging does not need to be classified in the same manner that research journals are understood. Instead it is a tool for personal practice in the same vain as the speech that Lessig was discouraged in practicing, while in Berlin. In a society that has recently represented a more RO* structure than RW* it is important to realize that blogging is a new form of tool that accomplishes goals that vary greatly from previous modes of communication. It is within this vain that I have founded my own website. One of the primary reasons for the creation of this website is to practice my writing. It will not only improve my ability to write, but also improve my ability to think and take part in dialogues about topics I find to be interesting.

Writing about LuLu Inc., a creation of Robert Yound (a co-founder of Red Hat), Lessig continues this concept.

But the consequence of his success will be a much wider range of people creating. And this is the most important consequence for society generally. Just as Jefferson romanticized the yeoman farmer working a small plot of land in an economy disciplined by hard work and careful planning... I mean to romanticize the yeoman creator.. In each case, the skeptic could argue that the product is better produced elsewhere - that large farms are more efficient, or that filters on publishing mean published works are better. But in each case, the skeptic misses something critically important: how the discipline of the yeoman's life changes him or her as a citizen. The Long Tail enables a wider range of people to speak. Whatever they say, that's a very good thing. Speaking teaches the speaker even if it just makes noise." (131)


  1. The correct spelling is Goethe Institut, not Goethe Institute