Back in the day, I attended John Perry Barlow's keynote address at the Winter 1994 USENIX Conference. And was favorably impressed. (And, holy crap, that was over a quarter century ago.) Barlow had a lot of insights into what the Internet was and could be, he had a lot of criticisms of "Internet Inventor" Al Gore, and (above all) he had a Hayekian grasp of the power of emergent order.
So I kind of paid attention over the years as he flitted in and out ot the news. And last year …
Well, let me put it this way: the "Acknowledgments" section at the end of the book is dated "February 5, 2018". And then follows the "About the Author" section, which (in its entirety) states that "On February 7, 2018, John Perry Barlow died in his sleep of natural causes. He was seventy years old."
Now that's poignant. (And causes some morbid reflection: he was only 3.5 years older than I.)
Anyway, this is his sort-of memoir. To understate things significantly: Barlow led an interesting life. He grew up in a Wyoming ranch family, and the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir was a childhood friend. He came east to Wesleyan University, where he attempted a suicide bombing in Harvard Yard. This did not keep him from graduating, and he was later accepted to Harvard Law. (That's only one of the things that will make you say: "Geez, the sixties were different.")
Also during college, he fell in with Timothy Leary's crowd, and became a frequent acid tripper. This becomes a recurring theme throughout the book: he was an extravagant User of Substances both legal (alcohol, tobacco) and not (everything else, as near as I can tell).
This did not stop him from becoming a lyricist for the Grateful Dead via his friendship with Weir. Well, actually, that's something you might expect.
What you might not expect is his deep admiration for fellow Wyomingite Alan Simpson (yup, the Republican Senator) and his relationship with Dick Cheney (Barlow was not so much a Cheney fan). Barlow actually held positions in the Wyoming GOP.
Also, Barlow was one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. For which all current Internet users probably owe him a debt of gratitude.
Along the way, Barlow drops names as frequently as he drops acid. He was good buddies with JFK Jr. Daryl Hannah. Alan Alda. Snowden and Assange. Andy Warhol. Anita Hill (dated not once, not twice, but thrice!). Steve Jobs.
Like I said: an interesting life. Unfortunately, the continual themes of sex, drugs, rock&roll is de rigueur for this kind of memoir; I would have liked to see a little more emphasis on the brilliant insights that turned me into a fan, twenty-five years ago.
But it could be that twenty-five years of hard Substance-based living can dull that brilliance quite a bit.