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An Interview with Cory Doctorow, Part 3 of 3

(Read part one here and part two here.)

By Geoffrey Cole

Cory Doctorow

Portrait by Christian Wöhrl, achnichts.wordpress.com/fotoserien/

To talk about Orwell again, he warned about the perils of ubiquitous surveillance, yet you live in London, potentially the most surveilled city on the planet. Why didn’t Orwell stop that? He wrote the best argument against it.

Technology is on a sine curve. It builds up the power of the individual and the small collective to be private and to work together to a point, and then the reaction reduces that freedom through technology, and the counter-reaction builds it up. You can see that sine wave since the time of Orwell. He caught it at a trough, and I think he mistook a downward sine curve for a downward curve that had no bottom. It’s pretty clear to me that in the wake of Orwell, technology had a massive effect for liberating people, whether that was phone freaks or zines or all of that other stuff, all the way up to BBSs and the early days of the Internet cryptography. The job of an activist can’t be to prevent the downward curve. I don’t think we can. I think the job of the activist is to dampen its amplitude and reduce its frequency, while increasing the amplitude and frequency of the upward curve.

Continue reading An Interview with Cory Doctorow, Part 3 of 3

An Interview with Cory Doctorow, Part 2 of 3

(Read part one here.)

By Geoffrey Cole

Portrait by Joi Ito (joi.ito.com)

Portrait by Joi Ito (joi.ito.com)

Speaking of DRM (Digital Rights Management), Tor recently got rid of all the DRM on their catalogue. Did you have any hand in that?

Strauss and (John) Scalzi and I all had a bunch of discussions with the senior management at Tor and at Macmillan. All three of us were brought to New York to present on Tor’s behalf at the Book Expo America. We were all very intimately involved.

How did the other writers at Tor accept the change?

As far as I know, there has been universal acceptance. I know that Hachette, who are Little Brown (Orbit), have written to their writers who are published by Tor in other territories than the ones where Hachette has rights, and they have told their writers that they have to tell Tor that they have to put DRM back on their works. This is a bit like divorced Mom and divorced Dad using the kids to get back at each other. It’s completely outrageous. To call it unethical is to do a disservice to unethical people.

Continue reading An Interview with Cory Doctorow, Part 2 of 3

An Interview with Cory Doctorow, Part 1 of 3

Photo by NK Guy, nkguy.com.tiff

Photo by NK Guy, nkguy.com.tiff

By Geoffrey Cole

Cory Doctorow is an author, activist, blogger, editor, lecturer, journalist, father, husband, and Nerd-General of the Internet. He has written five adult novels, including Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and the recent Rapture of the Nerds, which he wrote with Charles Strauss. His latest YA novel is Pirate Cinema, which follows the acclaimed YA titles Little Brother and For the Win. He is one of the founding editors of boingboing.net. Cory lives in London with his wife and daughter. He was in Vancouver earlier this year for the 2012 Writers Fest.

Writers are a notoriously starving bunch; were you banking on the arrival of the post-scarcity economy when you moved to London?

I moved to London to be the European Affairs Coordinator of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and I had a modest but okay salary. In 2006, when I quit my day job to write full time, having looked at our finances, we decided I could do it. I’ve been very lucky and I’ve done very well. I work hard for it but I know lots of people who work as hard as I do and haven’t done as well, and I know some amount of it has to be chalked up to luck. It has gone well enough that my wife was able to quit her job to run a start-up this year. We’re okay.

Continue reading An Interview with Cory Doctorow, Part 1 of 3