My ETCON talk, in the Public Domain

I have just given a talk at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Confernece called Ebooks: Neither E, Nor Books, which is something of an anomaly for me in three ways:

  1. I wrote out this talk, word for word, in advance of the presentation
  2. I am releasing that written text as a free, public domain file, right now, moments before I get off the stage

So here's the text of that talk, dedicated to the Public Domain, for you to do with what you will.

This isn't to say that copyright is bad, but that there's such a thing as good copyright and bad copyright, and that sometimes, too much good copyright is a bad thing. It's like chilis in soup: a little goes a long way, and too much spoils the broth.

From the Luther Bible to the first phonorecords, from radio to the pulps, from cable to MP3, the world has shown that its first preference for new media is its "democratic-ness" -- the ease with which it can reproduced.

(And please, before we get any farther, forget all that business about how the Internet's copying model is more disruptive than the technologies that proceeded it. For Christ's sake, the Vaudeville performers who sued Marconi for inventing the radio had to go from a regime where they had *one hundred percent* control over who could get into the theater and hear them perform to a regime where they had *zero* percent control over who could build or acquire a radio and tune into a recording of them performing. For that matter, look at the difference between a monkish Bible and a Luther Bible -- next to that phase-change, Napster is peanuts)

Wild remixes

Trevor Smith has whipped up two amazing remixes of Eastern Standard Tribe, my new novel. The first is a "speed-reader," based on the research of Xerox PARC researcher Rich Gold, which flashes the book, one word at a time, up on the screen, at a high rate of speed. It is astonishingly readable, and makes you feel like you've found a back-door to your brain's comprehension nodes. The second is a "PurpleSlurped" version of the book, in which every paragraph is given its own link, so that one can easily refer to a specific passage of the text.

Remix Eastern Standard Tribe

Modesty B Catt has created a text-remixer called Cut-n-Paste-Rock-n-Roll that allows you to select from two or more of my novels and Alice in Wonderland, and, at the click of a button, machine-remix the text into a new work. I'm really enjoying this.

"What's wrong with you?" Art shook his head to the King, looking round the refreshments!' But there seemed to think that proved it at the end of the way. They let me expense it. I'll be one of great relief. 'Now at ours they had settled down again, the cook took the watch and looked at them with large round eyes, and half of them--and it belongs to a doze; but, on being back in Ottawa, freelancing advice to clueless MPs dealing with Taiwanese and Sierra Leonese OEM importers.

Audie's married to a full-blown conspiracy. Their interests are commercial, industrial, cultural, culinary. A Tribesman will patronize a fellow Tribesman's restaurant, or give him a reproachful look. "I'm sorry, all right?" he asked.

Downunder download mirror

The good folks at PlanetMirror have set up a mirror mirror (and an FTP mirror) for Eastern Standard Tribe in Australia, for your antipodean pleasure (or in case this server gets busied out!).

Austin signing

I will be signing copies of Eastern Standard Tribe Austin at the SXSW conference, immediately following the Bloggie Award Ceremony on the trade-floor.

March 15, 1:30PM, at the book signing area of the SXSW Interactive Festival Trade Show & Exhibition on the third floor of the Austin Convention Center.

If you're not a registered attendee at SXSW, you can get a free trade-floor pass here.

Toronto signings

I'll be doing two signings in Toronto:

March 18, 7PM, The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, 239 College Street, 3rd Floor, at Spadina, +1.416.393.7748

March 27, 3-5PM, Bakka Books, 598 Yonge St., at Wellesley, +1.416.963.9993

San Diego signing

I'll be signing Eastern Standard Tribe after my talk at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Confernece in San Diego.

February 12, noon, Westin Horton Plaza San Diego

San Francisco signings

I'll be doing two launch/signing events for Eastern Standard Tribe in San Francisco:

February 19, 7PM: Borderlands Books, 866 Valencia Street, at 19th St, +1.888.893.4008

February 25, 7PM: The Booksmith, 1644 Haight St, at Clayton, +1.800.793.7323

Get a signed copy shipped to your door

Update, Feb 29, 2004: Sadly, I no longer live close to Borderlands, the bookstore that was shipping inscribed copies for me -- in fact, I now live 9,000 miles away! However, Borderlands still has a large supply of signed books and bookplates, and is happy to keep on selling them via mail-order wtih no shipping costs.

Looking for a signed copy of Eastern Standard Tribe? By a happy coincidence, I live a couple blocks from Borderlands Books, an excellent science fiction bookstore in San Francisco that is happy to do mail-order.

So, if you're interested in a signed copy, you can call (888.893.4008), fax (415.824.8543), or email your order to the store, and they'll send you a copy (while supplies last!). There is no charge for media-mail shipping within the continental US.
Priority mail in the US will be $6.00 (that's delivery within three
days or so). International will be Global Priority for $10 to Canada or
$12 elsewhere. To get the free shipping, just mention that you heard
about it here.


Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this book:

  1. How can I tip you for the free download? I wanna pay for what I got!
    Hey, that's real nice of you, but honestly, I'm not interested. If you liked the book, that's good to know (you can email me to tell me so, if you'd like, but please don't be offended if I don't get a chance to answer; I love to read the messages even if I don't have time to respond to all of them). If your sense of duty demands that you compensate me, well, you can always buy a copy, which gets me my royalty and gets my publisher some sales-figures that show that this kind of thing is a good idea. If you don't care to own the dead-tree edition, you can always donate it to a shelter or a school or a public library. The bottom line for me is, on the one hand, I don't want to compete with my publisher and on the other, I don't feel very dignified begging for quarters and nickels from my audience.
  2. I wanna download the book in $SOME_OTHER_FORMAT
    Here's the deal: I don't believe that there's any market-demand for teasers or for "Digital Rights Management" technology: none of you woke up this morning and said, "Damn, I wish there was a way I could get less of the books I enjoy and a way I could do less with them once I have them." My goal here is to figure out what people actually want out of electronically delivered text, and so I'm giving this novel to you in three open and flexible formats with an invitation:

    Convert these files to any "e-book" or text format you want, and send them to me, along with a note telling me what reader it's intended for and I will add it to the download page. The only caveats are:

    1. You have to include the entire text of the novel, including (especially!) the Creative Commons license and metadata
    2. If you are converting to a format that has some kind of use-restriction options (i.e., no-print, no-copy, etc), these must be switched off
    3. You can't include the cover art. That belongs to my publisher, not me
    4. No duplicates: if there's already a file available for the reader you use, don't send me another one with your favorite tweaks in it -- I'm not going to mediate catfights about how big the indents should be in Newton eBook Reader files or whatnot and besides, civilians who want to download a copy of the book shouldn't have to puzzle out whether they want the version with the curly-quotes or the foot-and-inch-marks
  3. Was Down and Out a success? Is that why you're doing this?
    Well, sure it was! I mean, I can't quantify how much of a success it was, because I don't have another first novel that I didn't release as a free download, but to the extent that the first book got downloaded a lot and drew a lot of attention and sold really well in hardcover and continues to sell well in paperback, I'm calling it a success.

    As to why I'm doing this again, well, it comes down to risking very little for a very big upside: namely, that you-all will continue to invest in my career by buying and reading and talking up the stuff that I do, that you will pass on these downloads to your friends and family, that you will keep on telling me about how you use these files so that I can understand better what the shape of electronic books to come will be.

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