Danny O’Brien: Technojournalist & Cyber Libertarian

Danny O’Brien is an English technology journalist turned cyber libertarian. He is also one of the most interesting people I’ve met lately.

Here is what makes Danny so interesting. First, he dances on stage when he lectures (while wearing an NSA t-shirt). Second, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture. Third, he and the folks at the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), have crafted a plan to save the Recording Industry, which recently announced it would stop suing college students and their grandmothers. The plan calls for users paying a flat $5 a month subscription fee for access to all the songs in the world.

Over dinner, I asked Danny how his organization differed from the Free Software Foundation (FSF), started by uber IP basher and software guru Richard Stallman. Danny replied that the FSF is mainly concerned with software and technical issues dealing with freeing source code for open access, whereas the EFF is mainly concerned with civil liberties, e.g. freedom of speech and privacy.

From my interactions with Danny I get the sense that he is immersed in an incredibly stimulating and vibrant counterculture. Why do I believe this? Here’s just one example.

Danny mentioned over dinner how his wife, journalist Quinn Norton, had written a story about body hackers experimenting with extra sensory perception. She wrote a Wired Magazine article about her experience implanting a magnet in her finger. It is one of the most fascinating concepts and reads I have encountered in a while.

Stories like that kept hovering over the table where Prof. Kembrew McCleod, Molly Kleinman, Prof. MichaelBennet and Mike Morelli and this blogger shared laughs and IP-related pop culture stories over local brews at the Library Tavern.