Every step in information evolution has brought literacy and enlightenment, from the discovery of language and writing to the invention of printing and computing. Each stride forward has left behind the poor, the punished and the confined. The ideas behind the right to counsel and the right to libraries have historically and mistakenly been treated as separate. Today, the revelations of science and technology impel the recognition of both as one.

There are more than a thousand cable channels, millions of Internet outlets, and unbounded distribution of and access to information. This is a measure of unwonted wealth as much as money or material possessions. And as the business savvy Gordon Gekko famously observed: “The most valuable commodity I know of is information.”

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