Many people have written to me with the news of Roadcasting, a technology that is very similar to the gimmick in Eastern Standard Tribe wherein cars stuck in traffic form ad-hoc peer-to-peer networks, sharing music among themselves (in truth, this idea came from my pal and former business partner, John Henson). It’s pretty cool to see stuff like this approaching reality, I tell you what.
It is a system, currently in prototype state, that allows anyone to have their own radio station, broadcasted among wirelessly capable devices, some in cars, in an ad-hoc wireless network. The system can become aware of individual preferences and is able to choose songs and podcasts that people want to hear, on their own devices and car stereos and in devices and car stereos around them.
Roadcasting provides a set of methods to transform radio into a community-driven interactive medium. Using collaborative filtering technologies, it enables rich passive and interactive experiences for ‘DJs’ and listeners in a way that has not previously been possible. Roadcasting matches you to radio stations that play the content that you want to hear.
Locus Magazine is the leading trade mag for science fiction, and the Locus Poll — from which the Locus Award nominees and winners are drawn — is the field’s popular award with the widest participation (wider even than the Hugos).
The Locus Award winners will be announced this July 4th weekend, at Calgary’s Westercon. Here’s the whole list of this year’s nominees (shockingly good company to be in, by the way):
Best Science Fiction Novel
The Algebraist, Iain M. Banks (Orbit)
Eastern Standard Tribe, Cory Doctorow (Tor)
Forty Signs of Rain, Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperCollins UK; Bantam)
The Baroque Cycle: The Confusion; The System of the World, Neal Stephenson (Morrow)
Iron Sunrise, Charles Stross (Ace)
One of the coolest remixes that anyone’s done of my books has been the speed reader that Trevor Smith put together, which flashes the books one word at a time, at high speed, inside a Java applet. Though the words fly past so fast that they practically flicker, they are still readable — there’s some heretofore unsuspected talent buried in our brains for parsing sentences when rendered as rapid-fire flashcards.
The future has caught up with the visions of the original cyberpunk writers — their virtual communities, online identities, encrypted data packets, communication gadgets, and rampant digital viruses are all here — and now the future’s uncharted territory is about intellectual property and copyright protection. Many of the original cyberpunk crew have retreated to the present and the past, while Cory Doctorow has stepped up to the future.
A group of “radio pirates” in the US are making part of Eastern Standard Tribe come true:
Lynch, 31, is one of a handful of iPod owners using the device to transmit FM radio stations from their car. He uses a bumper sticker on the back of his fender that reads “iPod @ 89.1 FM” to let passers-by know how to tune in…
“I put on some profanity. Comedy, R-rated comedy, Chris Rock’s early stuff. Then I called [his friend] up on his cell phone and he was two cars behind me. I said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but somebody up here is broadcasting swear words! Tune to 89.1FM.’ He turns to the station and he’s like, ‘I can’t believe I’m hearing this!’ It was a big joke for a few minutes.”
Once a friend suggested using a bumper sticker to advertise the frequency on which he was transmitting, Lynch was off and running. He became his own mini-pirate radio station.
“For four car-lengths around me was this little bubble of Ã¢â‚¬â€? me! Whatever I wanted to listen to! So I could be listening to Chris Rock talking about dating and meeting women in a club and then the next song go straight to Neil Sadaka.”
Eastern Standard Tribe is cited as background reading for the upcoming Cyberspace Law Committee meeting at the American Bar Association 2004 Annual Meeting:
The passage below is from Cory’s latest book, Eastern Standard Tribe. It’s a fun romp. In an early part of the book, the protagonist has a car accident, and he finds himself in need of a lawyer. So, where does he turn? The chat room for his Tribe. (You’ll have to read the book to understand the Tribal references). The exchange below highlights many of the issues under discussin by the Cyberspace Law Committee, and that’s why I’m including this passage here. As you’ll see, he not only finds a lawyer, and forms an attorney client relationship, but he also gets certification of the lawyer’s credentials, reviews his standard representation agreement in “smartcontract” form, and executes it. All without leaving the chat room.
For those of you not familiar with chat rooms, you may initially be confused by the syntax. It’s probably easiest to treat this as if it were a script. Each line starts with the “handle” of the person who’s talking in the Chat Room. “Trepan” is the client/protagonist. “Junta” is the lawyer. I’ve edited the passage somewhat to focus your attention on the cyberspace law issues.