The collection is read by Paul Michael Garcia, who also read Content. As the subtitle (“Further Selected Essays on Productivity, Creativity, Parenting, and Politics in the 21st Century”) implies, it covers some pretty far-ranging ground!
One of the web’s most celebrated high-tech culture mavens returns with this second collection of essays and polemics. Discussing complex topics in an accessible manner, Cory Doctorow’s visions of a future where artists have full freedom of expression is tempered with his understanding that creators need to benefit from their own creations. From extolling the Etsy makerverse to excoriating Apple for dumbing down technology while creating an information monopoly, each unique piece is brief, witty, and at the cutting edge of tech. Now a stay-at-home dad as well as an international activist, Doctorow writes as eloquently about creating real-time Internet theater with his daughter as he does while lambasting the corporations that want to profit from inherent intellectual freedoms.
We’re approaching a future where mechanical reproduction will be superseded by instantaneous infinite distribution.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.
Jan Rubak has once again set out to create a fan-audiobook of my essays, reading aloud from my book Context as he did with my earlier collection, Content. He’s a great reader, and he’s uploaded half the book so far, with the rest promised soon. Here’s an MP3 of his reading of “Think Like a Dandelion.”
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.
If you want to know what’s happening at the sharp end of digital publication and new ideas about the relationships between authors and their readers – do yourself a favour and listen to what he has to say.
Edwin Schlossberg once said “The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.” And oh, how we need that skill today!
In times of transition and upheaval, we are literally “off the map” of past experience that is our normal guide to what to expect and how to think about it. It’s at times like these that we need context-setters to shape how we understand and think about the changes facing us.
It was clear from the first that Cory Doctorow is one of the great context-setters of our generation, helping us all to understand the implications of the technology being unleashed around us. We are fortunate that unlike many who practice this trade, who look backward
at recent changes, or forward only a year or two, Cory uses the power of story to frame what is going on in larger terms.
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.
Mizuko Ito, Professor and MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning, University of California, Irvine