So Media Alliance managed to score Lawrence Lessig for a prezzo at the venerable tech-art speakeasy at 111 Minna. We bought soda and took it seriously, and checked out some of the phantasmagoric paintings by LA-based Mear (really -- imagine an immaculately conceived grafito-style, hip-hop tiger with a third eye resting on a robotic prosthetic under a bodi tree). Lessig was no less artistic in his own presentation, maybe employing the first sincerely interesting powerpoint accompananiment to a monologue we've ever seen.

It takes a rhetorical magician to pull of a prepared speech on intellectual property, innovation and internet infrastructure, match it to slides, and engage an audience (even for wonks like us). He started with three stories about innovative technologies initially opposed by AT&T, and compared it to the example of a market-neutral network like power mains -- there are few laws against what you can plug into a wall socket.

The slides and the speech were expertly timed, and the experience didn't sag on such heavy ideas (lightened by arrogant quips from AT&T executives throughout the ages). He loudly complained about arguments that to afford "infrastructure" development and investment, private companies were often given the incentive of a monopoly, or franchise agreement -- something that the nature of wireless can subvert. "AT&T didn't build the [radio wave] spectrum, nature did," quipped Lessig.

After the jump: communism intoned, denied; panelists speak out; what's up with TechConnect?