From 6PM-730PM this Thursday, May 23, I’m presenting at the Exposition Park Library (Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library, 3900 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90062) on the problems of Big Tech and how the problems of monopolization (in tech and every other industry) is supercharged by the commercial surveillance industry — and what we can do about it. It’s part of the LA Public Library’s “Book to Action” program and it’s free to attend — I hope to see you there!
Naked Captalism is one of my favorite sites, both for its radical political commentary and the vigorous discussions that follow from it; now, John Siman has posted a review of my latest book, Radicalized, which collects four intensely political science fiction stories about our present day and near future. more
This Saturday, May 18, I’ll be appearing at the Nebula Awards Conference, at the Marriott Warner Center in Woodland Hills: I’ll be participating in the 1:30PM mass signing in the Grand Ballroom and then I’ll be on the “Megatrends for the Near Future” panel at 4PM in A/B Salon. more
My latest Locus column is “Steering with the Windshield Wipers,” and it ties together the growth of Big Tech with the dismantling of antitrust law (which came about thanks to Robert Bork’s bizarre alternate history of antitrust, a theory so ridiculous that it never would have gained traction except that it promised to make rich people a lot richer). more
I appeared on this week’s Canadaland podcast (MP3) with Jesse Brown to talk about the promise of the internet 20 years ago, when it seemed that we were headed for an open, diverse internet with decentralized power and control, and how we ended up with an internet composed of five giant websites filled with screenshots from the other four. Jesse has been covering this for more than a decade (I was a columnist on his CBC podcast Search Engine, back in the 2000s) and has launched a successful independent internet business with Canadaland, but as he says, the monopolistic gentrification of the internet is heading for podcasting like a meteor.
The tagline of Cory Doctorow’s latest release is “dystopia is now.” In four novellas, the Canadian ex-pat ably covers a broad swath of pressing social concerns ranging from police racism to affordable American health care through an only slightly science-fictional lens.
No prior volume has so perfectly encapsulated who Doctorow is or what he thinks we should be worrying about as this one does. In the past, a new reader might have had to read lots of long essays about Makerspaces and net neutrality and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act on his website to get the whole picture.
But now, the answer to the question of where to start with Doctorow can be answered with “right here.”
Previous novels Little Brother and Homeland were like instruction manuals for millennial and generation Z activists, written in the shadow of George W. Bush’s war on terror and the 2008 financial crisis, respectively. They represented moments in time when government curtailment of civil liberties and economic oppression by corporate interests seemed to demand a response.
But that response — a particular brand of socialist and technogeek activism that blends community organizing with internet crowd-sourcing — is even better encapsulated in Unauthorized Bread, in which a young newcomer to the United States risks everything to bust open the operating system of her smart toaster so that she, and an entire building full of refugees, can actually afford to eat.