John Perry Barlow, 'visionary' internet pioneer, dies aged 70

CREDIT Getty

CREDIT Getty

The digital-rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation said Barlow died early Wednesday in his sleep at home in San Francisco.

Cindy Cohn, director of the EFF, announced Barlow's death. "He always saw the Internet as a fundamental place of freedom, where voices long silenced can find an audience and people can connect with others regardless of physical distance". She said Barlow understood that "new technology could create and empower evil as much as it could create and empower good" and he made a conscious decision to focus on the latter.

Barlow met Grateful Dead's Bob Weir when he was a student at Fountain Valley School in Colorado.

Barlow was a seminal child of the 1960s who took LSD with Timothy Leary, wrote lyrics for the Grateful Dead, and eventually became an internet activist in the 1980s and 90s.

Yet Ace was only the start as Bobby and John Perry Barlow would also write such gems as "Let It Grow", "The Music Never Stopped", "Lazy Lightning", "Estimated Prophet", "I Need A Miracle", "Saint Of Circumstance", "Lost Sailor", "Feel Like A Stranger", "Throwing Stones", "Hell In A Bucket" and "Picasso Moon" over the course of the next two decades. "John Perry Barlow, he set the bar high, with big boots to follow, and many will try, but no one will ever come close to the guy, for this grateful and graceful guru was one of a kind.". He co-founded the EFF in 1990, and has been credited with first coining the term "cyberspace" in its current definition that same year. Some of tunes he helped pen include "Cassidy, ' 'Heaven Help the Fool, ' 'Black-Throated Wind, ' 'Looks Like Rain, ' and 'Mexicali Blues.' He also wrote four songs on the band's 1989 album titled 'Built to Last" and an additional song, 'We Can Run, ' on the 2004 reissue.

Barlow was a poet, essayist, Internet pioneer and prominent cyber-libertarian.

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Barlow's famous manifesto, "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace", attempted to claim the internet as a new space that shouldn't be regulated by governments.

He graduated in 1969 at Wesleyan University in CT with a degree in comparative religion.

Today, the tech industry and the world are grappling with a digital divide, a threat to net neutrality, and controversy after controversy over free speech, abuse and harassment online.

It is with some sadness that we must report the passing of John Perry Barlow.

Barlow is survived by his three daughters. "It worked for us and it has worked for everyone else I've ever seen try it", Barlow said.

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