We’re approaching a future where mechanical reproduction will be superseded by instantaneous infinite distribution.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.
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.
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.
Reading Context, I felt like there should be a sticker on the cover, much like the one on Cracker Jacks, which promises us ‘a prize in every box’ or perhaps the old slogan for Lay’s Potato Chips, ‘bet you can’t eat just one!’ These bite-sized clusters of observations are munchable and easy to digest, but inside, they carry thoughts that can wake you up in the middle of night. The topics here range across intellectual property, science fiction, technological innovation, media policy, and electronic publishing, but he is often at his best when he pulls things down to the human level, describing the pleasures of being a parent in the digital age, or that guy he knew long ago who wore his sweaters inside out.
I can’t say this about many authors, but I can say it about Cory, and without hesitation: Anyone who considers themselves smart, strategic, or even informed about where our digital economy is going (and I hope that’s you) must read him. And this book is a great place to start.
As we live in the future going faster miles an hour, I’m thankful that Cory Doctorow has given thought to the modern joys and dangers making our collective head spin. We all need to make time to have the conversations Cory starts in this book.