We’re approaching a future where mechanical reproduction will be superseded by instantaneous infinite distribution. Yet our legal, political, and even individual mental structures are based around trading corn for iron, or planting a flag on some patch of dirt and calling it ours. For the last decade Doctorow’s work has poked at the edges of what will surely be a transformative issue for humankind and even for human nature.
This week on The Command Line podcast, a recording of a live chat between host Thomas Gideon and myself at the New America Foundation, discussing (among other things), my new essay collection Context. (MP3)
Jan Rubak has once again set out to create a fan-audiobook of my essays, reading aloud from my book Context as he did with my earlier collection, Content. He’s a great reader, and he’s uploaded half the book so far, with the rest promised soon. Here’s an MP3 of his reading of “Think Like a Dandelion.”
Travis Poling liked my essay “Writing in the Age of Distraction” from Context well enough to create a lesson plan based on it for his College Composition class.
There are many writers whose books I love, but to me being a “fan” implies more than just having an appreciation for a writer’s creative output. It includes a few less tangible qualities, like the author being an interesting person and having a relevant blog and maybe even occasionally “doing the right thing.” Your definition of what constitutes interesting, relevant and right will obviously affect all of this, but for me Cory Doctorow is one of those people, and Context is a great example of why he’s more than just a great novelist. If you’ve enjoyed one or more of his novels in the past, Context is a good way to sample some of the other consistently entertaining information Cory Doctorow emits on a regular basis.
Context: Further Selected Essays on Productivity, Creativity, Parenting, and Politics in the 21st Century, my second essay collection, is now officially available from Tachyon Books, and in finer bookstores everywhere. It features an introduction by the estimable Tim O’Reilly, as well as a walloping 44 essays that were previously published in various magazines, newspapers and websites. As with my other books, the whole text is available as a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA download for your remixing pleasure. I’m also in search of libraries and school that would like free copies of the book sent to them by donors.
From Tim’s introduction:
Edwin Schlossberg once said “The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.” And oh, how we need that skill today!
In times of transition and upheaval, we are literally “off the map” of past experience that is our normal guide to what to expect and how to think about it. It’s at times like these that we need context-setters to shape how we understand and think about the changes facing us.
It was clear from the first that Cory Doctorow is one of the great context-setters of our generation, helping us all to understand the implications of the technology being unleashed around us. We are fortunate that unlike many who practice this trade, who look backward
at recent changes, or forward only a year or two, Cory uses the power of story to frame what is going on in larger terms.
See the emerging world of electronic books, iPad apps, cloud computing, and more through the eyes of possibly the most productively opinionated commentator of our day. Any complacency you have about the digital everyday will not survive unscathed.
Cory Doctorow thinks about lots of things, and he writes about lots of things, and he does both in a way that sends some folks right over the edge. It’s not that Cory is being outrageous to be outrageous—it’s that he realizes that the context of our lives is change. That’s a message some people don’t want to hear. Well, I want to hear it. I don’t always agree with Cory 100%—who agrees with anyone else all the time?—but I never get tired of reading what he’s thinking about next.