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Doctorow’s Discontent with Content

Readers of this blog know that I am a fan of Cory Doctorow’s work. In addition to his fiction, Cory writes nonfiction. His main topics are technology, creativity, copyright, and the future of the future. I know this because I read his work and his latest book, ©ontent, gathers his thoughts on these topics and says so right on the cover. Ah it is so easy. Maybe too easy. Deceptively easy. And that is also Cory’s gift.

©ontent sings. From the opening where Cory tells Microsoft’s Research Group why DRM is foolish to his thoughts on protecting artists to his views on the information economy to his idea that giving away his work is the best thing he can do, Cory offers detailed yet accessible arguments about the way technology, creativity, copyright will affect the future of the future. The essays span several years of writing. Cory makes bold claims about DRM and the market. He presents a rallying call for the United States to keep pace with the changes in information economy lest the rest of the world surpass us. Reading the essays provides insight about his ideas and how they evolved. Remember Cory writes for Boing, Boing, writes science fiction, lectures, and more. His livelihood is at stake here.

Now I can’t say I agree with everything Cory says, but I think what he says merits consideration. Sure, he is in a rarefied world. Maybe he can give away work and still make money. Maybe he is just an evangelist and should be distrusted on those grounds. Then again, read the book. Cory identifies real changes in how our creative system operates and the way in which adherence to the old one could harm us. The last essays grapple with the problems of security and control. They present the possibilities that await us. And that is the point. Cory is speaking of possibility. As he says “We choose the future we want to live in.” ©ontent helps us understand what that future could be and how to have a say in it.