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My latest podcast (MP3) is a reading of my 2017 Locus column “The Jubilee: Fill Your Boots ,” about the nature of material scarcity, which is a subject of enormous significance at this moment as production has ground to a halt, and in which the use of the internet to coordinate our activity is at an all-time high. The essay’s thesis is that the answer to the climate change crisis might coordination, not privation — holidays when our renewable energy sources weren’t producing, work when they were. Making hay while the sun shines. Given the enforced time off so many of us are living through, the ideas are more salient than they were when I started thinking about them in 2017.

Cheapness and coordination go hand in hand. Trains gave us railroad time, the first system of timekeeping that synchronized clocks beyond ear­shot of the clocktower’s bells, so 11:00 a.m. in New York was also 11:00 a.m. in Toronto – and they also made it drastically cheaper to move goods from one place to another, both to bring them to market and to refine them further in multi-stage, distributed industrial processes. Spoke-and-hub aviation gave us flight transfers in 45 minutes, including baggage logistics, making it possible to go from small, out of the way places to large, centralized places without having to provide economically unsustainable point-to-point direct routes between every small town and every big city. Walmart’s supply chains stretch from China to Burbank with fantastic reli­ability, so that everything Walmart sells is always available, without having to wait for misshipments and misorders. A single McDonald’s hamburger can contain beef from 1,000 animals – the company isn’t a restaurant chain, it’s a logistics firm that solves problems involving fractional cows.

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My latest podcast (MP3) is a reading of the author’s note from “Attack Surface” — the third Little Brother book, which comes out on Oct 12. I recorded this for the audiobook edition of Attack Suface, which I’ve been recording all last week with Amber Benson and the Cassandra de Cuir from Skyboat Media. If you like what you hear, please consider pre-ordering the book — it’s a scary time to have a book in the production pipeline!

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My latest podcast is a reading (MP3) of “Data – the new oil, or potential for a toxic oil spill?” — a column I wrote for Kaspersky in which I argue that data was never “the new oil” – instead, it was always the new toxic waste: “pluripotent, immortal – and impossible to contain.”

Data breaches are inevitable (any data you collect will probably leak; any data you retain will definitely leak) and cumulative (your company’s data breach can be combined with each subsequent attack to revictimize your customers). Identity thieves benefit enormously from cheap storage, and they collect, store and recombine every scrap of leaked data. Merging multiple data sets allows for reidentification of “anonymized” data, and it’s impossible to predict which sets will leak in the future.

These nondeterministic harms have so far protected data-collectors from liability, but that can’t last. Toxic waste also has nondeterministic harms (we never know which bit of effluent will kill which person), but we still punish firms that leak it.

Waiting until the laws change to purge your data is a bad bet – by then, it may be too late. All the data your company collects and retains represents an unquantifiable, potentially unlimited source of downstream liability.

What’s more, you probably aren’t doing anything useful with it. The companies that make the most grandiose claims about data analytics are either selling analytics or data (or both). These claims are sales literature, not peer-reviewed citations to empirical research.

Data is cheap to collect and store – if you don’t have to pay for the chaos it sows when it leaks. And some day, we will make data-hoarders pay.

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This week, I appear on the Cool Tools podcast to discuss my favorite, most indispensible gadgets and services and why I love them.

https://kk.org/cooltools/cory-doctorow-science-fiction-author/

My top picks were my Crkt Snap-Lock knife – a one-handed-opening, lightweight, super versatile pocket knife that I carry everywhere.

https://www.crkt.com/snap-lock.html

I also chose my Chinese OEM underwater MP3 player. I swim every day for my chronic pain maintenance and this is how I make it bearable, getting through 1-2 audiobooks/month.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00GWV6GUO/cooltoolsshow-20

My third choice was Libro.fm, the DRM-free, indie-bookseller friendly way to listen to audiobooks. Basically the same catalog as Audible, at the same price, the only difference being that buying from them supports neighborhood booksellers, not Amazon.

It was a really fun! @Frauenfelder and @kevin2kelly are super smart about gadgets.

Here’s the MP3:

http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/7810/13374488/779800513-cool-tools-218-cory-doctorow.mp3

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Back when cruise ships were a thing, I went out on the Writing Excuses Cruise as an instructor with Mary Robinette Kowal and friends. While there, we recorded an episode of the Writing Excuses podcast.

In a mere 25 minutes, we pack in a lot of material: how to break into the field, what a publisher’s job is, how “digital is different,” self-promotion, not being an unlikable weirdo when you’re self-promoting, technology’s role in shaping artistic success, and more. (here’s an MP3).

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As a followup to my last podcast, which featured the Macmillan audiobook of my novella “The Masque of the Red Death”, this week’s podcast starts with a reading of Poe’s original 1842 story, “The Masque of the Red Death. It’s some next-level gothic stuff.

As a chaser, I close this week’s podcast with a reading of Twain’s classic, gothic, comedic “Literary Nightmare,” better known as “Punch, Brothers, Punch,” easily the best story ever written about an earworm.

Warning: earworms.

MP3

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Edgar Allen Poe wrote “The Masque of the Red Death” in 1842. It’s about a plutocrat who throws a masked ball in his walled abbey during a plague with the intention of cheating death.

My novella “The Masque of the Red Death” is a tribute to Poe; it’s from my book Radicalized. It’s the story of a plute who brings his pals to his luxury bunker during civlizational collapse in the expectation of emerging once others have rebuilt.

Naturally, they assume that when they do emerge, once their social inferiors have rebooted civilization, that their incredible finance-brains, their assault rifles, and their USBs full of BtC will allow them to command a harem and live a perpetual Frazetta-painting future.

And naturally – for anyone who’s read Poe – it doesn’t work out for them. They discover that humanity has a shared microbial destiny and that you can’t shoot germs. That every catastrophe must be answered with solidarity, not selfishness, if it is to be survived.

Like my story When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, the Masque of the Red Death has been on a lot of people’s minds lately, especially since this Guardian story of plutes fleeing to their New Zealand luxury bunkers was published. Hundreds of you have sent me this.

I got the message. Yesterday, I asked my agent to see if Macmillan Audio would let me publish the audiobook of my Masque of the Red Death for free. They said yes, and asked me to remind you that the audiobook of Radicalized (which includes Masque) is available for your delictation.

I hope you’ll check out the whole book. Radicalized was named one of the @WSJ’s best books of 2019, and it’s a finalist for Canada Reads, the national book prize. It’s currently on every Canadian national bestseller list.

There’s one hitch, though: Audible won’t sell it to you. They don’t sell ANY of my work, because I don’t allow DRM on it, because I believe that you should not have to lock my audiobooks to Amazon’s platform in order to enjoy them.

Instead, you can buy the audio from sellers like libro.fm, Downpour.com, and Google Play. Or you can get it direct from me. No DRM, no license agreement. Just “you bought it, you own it.”

And here’s the free Macmillan Audio edition of Masque of the Red Death, read with spine-chilling menace by the incredible Stefan Rudnicki, with a special intro from me, freshly mastered by John Taylor Williams. I hope it gives you some comfort.

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Last night I sat down for an interview and lively Q&A at the Kelowna Public Library with the CBC’s Sarah Penton as part of the Canada Reads national book prize, for which my book Radicalized is a finalist. Courtney Dickson was kind enough to send me raw audio from the board and to give me permission to post it and include it in my podcast feed. It was a genuinely wonderful night, with great and thoughtful questions, and I’m really glad that I get to share it with you! (MP3)