Web leader, songwriter John Perry Barlow passes away at 70

Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018|4:15 p.m.

John Perry Barlow, a web activist and lyricist for the Grateful Dead, has actually died.

The digital-rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation said Barlow passed away early Wednesday in his sleep in the house in San Francisco. He was 70.

The cause of death was not right away understood. Barlow had been battling a range of debilitating health problems because 2015, according to fans who arranged a benefit performance for him in October 2016.

Barlow co-founded the EFF in 1990 to promote totally free expression and privacy online. In a 1996 manifesto, the “Declaration of the Independence of The online world,” he argued that the U.S. and other federal governments shouldn’t impose their sovereignty on the “international social space we are building.”

“He is among the first people who recognized the internet was going to be necessary because it would assist people connect in such a way they couldn’t in the physical world,” stated Cindy Cohn, the EFF’s executive director.

Some of his policy views evolved with time, however he remained optimistic about the power of the internet to enhance human connections as long as people weren’t silenced by meddling federal governments or monopolistic services.

“He stayed consistent to this core idea that we might make something gorgeous, or something awful, and it depended on us,” Cohn stated.

Barlow was born in rural Sublette County, Wyoming, in 1947 and raised near Pinedale, where his parents were ranchers and his father a state senator.

Barlow has stated he grew up as a devout Mormon prior to leaping into the counterculture of the 1960s. He befriended Bob Weir, among the Grateful Dead’s founding members, when they were boarding school schoolmates at the Fountain Valley School in Colorado. Barlow graduated from Wesleyan University in 1969.

He later returned to Wyoming, where he ran the family cattle ranch for almost twenty years and meddled Republican politics. It was as a rancher in the 1980s that he initially began exploring the web’s early social networks.

“He saw extremely clearly that it was a method for those who had actually previously been disempowered to have a voice and to have company, have the ability to express themselves and get in touch with kindred spirits,” stated software business owner and EFF co-founder Mitch Kapor.

Kapor and Barlow started working together after both were sought out by FBI agents aiming to investigate computer system crimes.

“They didn’t know exactly what they were doing,” Kapor stated of the representatives. “Guy with weapons, who aren’t skilled, is very scary.”

The duo partnered with another software application entrepreneur, John Gilmore, to produce the EFF, which hired lawyers and sought to raise awareness about the significance of securing civil liberties online. Although Barlow wasn’t trained in computer science, his beauty, oratory skills and huge philosophical visions helped move the cause forward, Kapor said.

Already, Barlow was already well-known among fans of the Grateful Dead. He co-wrote a number of songs with Dam, consisting of “Mexicali Blues,” “Black Throated Wind” and “Cassidy.” With keyboardist Brent Mydland, Barlow wrote “Blow Away” and “We Can Run.” He also composed tunes for String Cheese Occurrence and Burning Spear.

“John had a method of taking life’s most challenging things and framing them as difficulties, therefore adventures,” Dam said in an online post Wednesday. “He was to be admired for that, even emulated. He’ll live on in the tunes we composed.”

His survivors include three children and a granddaughter. His memoir, “Mom American Night: My Life in Crazy Times,” is due to be released later this year.

AP Home Entertainment Writer Mark Kennedy in New york city added to this report.

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