A pair of nice interviews about my new novel Homeland hit the Web today: this fun chat with Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda on the Washington Post, and this one with David Klein at Las Vegas City Life:
It’s about conveying your enthusiasm. My readers like that enthusiastic voice. The dirty secret about geeking out is that it becomes a meditation. What starts as a frivolous “whatever” and people go, “whatever, look at that guy with too much time on his hands” becomes a meditation. Thinking about anything and doing it well becomes meditative.
Part of the plot in Homeland revolves around "hidden services" on the Tor network. Now, a fan of mine in Norway called Tor Inge Røttum has set up a hidden service and stashed copies of all my books there. He writes:
A hidden service in Tor is a server, it can be any server, a web server, chat server, etc. A hidden service can only be accessed through Tor. When accessing a hidden service you don't need an exit node, which means that they are more secure than accessing the "clearnet" or the normal Internet (if you want). Because then the exit nodes can't snoop up what you are browsing. Hidden services are hard to locate as most of them aren't even connected to the clearnet.
I don't have any servers or computers that I can run 24/7 to host a hidden service, but fortunately there is a free webhost that is hosting websites on Tor: http://torhostg5s7pa2sn.onion.to
After creating the domain I wrote a dirty bash script to download most of Cory's books and create a HTML file linking to them. It's available on pastebin: http://pastebin.com/3YR6j8zJ
I did a pair of appearances at the O'Reilly Tools of Change conference in NYC as part of the tour for Homeland -- the first a solo talk for writers, the second a panel with Henry Jenkins and Brian David Johnson. The latter is online now, as well as an interview.
"Homeland" is as dead serious as "1984," as potentially important a "novel of ideas," with a much more engaging central character and an apparently inexhaustible supply of information on everything from brewing coffee to sneaky surveillance and how to defeat it.
Mr. Doctorow is bang up-to-date (as Orwell never was) on the uses of rapidly changing technology, both good and bad. If you want to keep up, there's a four-page appendix on how to protect your privacy and use the Net productively—so long as you're allowed, that is.
My latest Publishers Weekly column, "I Can't Let You Do That, Dave," is a look at the dangers of redesigning our computers to boss us around instead of doing what they're told and trying to help us:
Contrary to what’s been written in some quarters, Aaron Swartz didn’t attempt to download those journal articles because “information wants to be free.” No one cares what information wants. He was almost certainly attempting to download those articles because they were publicly funded scholarship that was not available to the public. They were scientific and scholarly truths about the world, information that the public paid for and needs in order to make informed choices about their lives and their governance. Fighting for information’s freedom isn’t the point. It’s people’s freedom that matters.
All of which makes the publishing community’s embrace of DRM and its advocacy for badly written, overly broad legislation to support DRM, fraught with peril. Since Frankenstein, writers and thinkers have recoiled in visceral horror at the idea of technology overpowering its creators. But when we actively build businesses that require censorship, surveillance, and control to thrive, we make a Frankenstein’s monster out of the devices that fill our pockets and homes, and the network that binds them all together.
I’ve always enjoyed the pluckiness of his characters, the relentless pace of the plots, the way Doctorow is able to grasp the Zeitgeist by the scruff and extract a ripping good story from it.