Author Cory Doctorow Talks Tech, Trotsky, What He's Reading, and Why He's Giving Away His Books For Free
Cory Doctorow, is a man of many faces. The Canadian-born science fiction author, is also a technology activist, journalist, and blogger. He is the co-founder of an open source peer-to-peer software company called OpenCola, and has worked as an activist and later the director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation before leaving to pursue writing full-time in 2006. Most of all, he is a man you should know about.
Courtesy of Cory Doctorow
Doctorow released his first novel, "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" (and subsequent novels) under a Creative Commons license, which allows readers to download the book for free.
Cory Doctorow will discuss his work at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe this Sunday, February 10 at 2 p.m. and "Hackers + Activism: Aaron Swartz, Anonymous and the Ethics of Digital Community" at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix on Monday, February 11 from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
Doctorow operates at a level that far surpasses ours, but we're sure you'll be able to keep up amidst the scope of literary and technology brain-porn that Doctorow offers. We could have picked his brain on technology, books, and our nation's freedom for hours, but alas he is a New York Times' best-selling author, and doesn't have that much time. So we settled for half an hour.
I read online that you described your parents as "techno-utopians" and "quasi-doctrinaire Trotskyist school teachers." Can you explain what you mean?
My parents are Trotskyists, and my dad is a computer scientist, and both of them are involved in technology and education and I think both of them believe that technology generally makes things better.
And you agree?
I think that there isn't a future without more technology in it, and if the people who care about making things better decide to abandon technology, all that means is that the only people using technology to get an edge are the people who want to make things worse.
What came first, your passion for science or writing?
I think they were both pretty simultaneous, I wrote my first story when I was six and that was around the same time that I was getting interested in science.
You are a big supporter of freedom in technology law as well as copyright laws. What does that mean exactly and why is it important to you?
Well I'm not at all interested in the freedom of information, but I am very interested in how technology makes people freer. For example, I think that when states fund research into science and pay to figure out how the world works that it's in our interest for everyone to be able to read those truths that are determined by our state funding.
I think that your networks are better when they give you the websites that you ask for, and not the websites that are most profitable. If a cable company wants to put high speed internet in, but make it very hard for you to download from services that compete with its video demand service by slowing them down and speeding up its own video demand, or putting a quota on your downloads but not including their video on demand in your quota, then that's not good for you. Because you want the things you click on, not the things that are most profitable for them. It's like bringing up the local corner pizzeria and being told that the phone company's decided not to connect you because Domino's is paying them more. And I think that our devices need to be designed to do what we ask them to.