Reading Chronology

On page 170 of David Post’s In Search of Jefferson’s Moose, I find this sentence, “Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu themselves, in the leading Unexceptionalist manifesto, put it well” followed by a discussion of various points made by Goldsmith and Wu. The manifesto that Post speaks of is Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World. This was published by MM. Goldsmith and Wu in 2006, three years before In Search of Jefferson’s Moose was released.

The publication dates and the one-way conversation Post is having with Goldsmith and Wu are noteworthy (for this post) because I’m reading these two books in the exact opposite order: I’m chewing on Jefferson’s Moose now and by tomorrow or the next day, I hope to lay my hands on Illusions of the Borderless World. I hadn’t planned on listening to this conversation on cyberspace laws in this reverse order (rewind mode?). It just happened this way. Does it matter? Does seeing Post demolish Goldsmith and Wu’s argument before seeing that argument itself unavoidably bias me?

Perhaps only the answer can only be supplied to specific cases. Reading, following scholarly debates, tracing ideas in chronological order matter in some cases and not others; they matter for some people, sometimes, not others at different times. However true (can answers be true if they’re not falsifiable?) such an answer may be, it seems terribly unsatisfying. Would you care to weigh in and supply more insightful responses?

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