Hailed by Bruce Sterling as “a political activist, gizmo freak, junk collector, programmer, entrepreneur, and all-around Renaissance geek,” the Internet’s favorite high-tech culture maven is celebrated with the first collection of his infamous articles, essays, and polemics.

Irreverently championing free speech and universal access to information—even if it’s just a free download of the newest Britney Spears MP3—he leads off with a mutinous talk given at Microsoft on digital rights management, insisting that they stop treating their customers as criminals. Readers will discover how America chose Happy Meal toys over copyright, why Facebook is taking a faceplant, how the Internet is basically just a giant Xerox machine, why Wikipedia is a poor cousin of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and how to enjoy free e-books.

Practicing what he preaches, all of the author’s books, including this one, are simultaneously released in print and on the Internet under Creative Commons licenses that encourage their reuse and sharing. He argues persuasively that this practice has considerably increased his sales by enlisting readers to promote his work. Accessible to geeks and nontechies alike, this is a timely collection from an author who effortlessly surfs the zeitgeist while always generating his own wave.

3 Responses to “About Content

  1. Wayne Ralph


    I was directed to craphound.com after a discussion with a design team that is converting one of my books, a biography of a war hero, into a graphic comic for display to young people at a military museum. I appreciate the elegance of Barlow’s ideas. Having practical experience of the difficulties of getting paid by my publisher for the artistic work I have done, I might wish for a different model of business relationships.

    That said, I need to eat fairly regularly and until the new paradigm proposed by Barlow kicks in, I have to make do with the traditional paradigm of royalty advances, and royalty payments, for hard-covered and soft-covered books sold.

    Here in Canada, a few years ago, a Public Lending Rights Program was created by the Canada Council for the Arts to pay authors an annual stipend, per published work, to compensate for the use of that work, typically via a photocopier in a library. I get a few hundred dollars every year for the books I have published, and sometimes that will be the only revenue I see for my published work.

    My two books include historical and contemporary photography as well as in-depth historical detail, including first-person narrative by war veterans and/or heroes. As McLuhan noted quite a while ago, the form of the medium presenting the information changes how we perceive it. My books look better held in one’s hands than they can look online on a computer screen. Being artistic in presentation and not simply words conveying information, the three-dimensional product is more powerful, in my opinion. My readers seem to agree since they are willing to pay $20 to $35 dollars to own a three-dimensional hard copy – more than 16,000 people in Canada have paid for my ‘product’ in the old fashioned way. Several thousand more readers have paid in other countries to own the books.

    One additional observation: used books are sold in traditional ways and also online, as are remaindered books, those left-overs that did not sell at first launch. Many people make money off the sale of those books. The only people that don’t make money are the artists/intellectuals who actually created the content inside the covers of those books. How many of us even think of the author and his or her financial stability when we buy used material. I too buy used books and always offer up a silent thank-you to the author for the work they did without pay, so I could get this great deal, a $30 book for $5.

    Kind regards, Wayne Ralph, author, photographer, White Rock, BC, Canada

  2. Furthur

    Hi Cory!
    Did you or Kurzweil mix up Heinlein’s “Man Who Sold the Moon” with Moon is a Harsh Mistress (in your interview with him)?

  3. polosport

    Hi Cory!
    Did you or Kurzweil mix up Heinlein’s “Man Who Sold the Moon” with Moon is a Harsh Mistress (in your interview with him)?

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