Cory Doctorow Wows at SFU

Cory Doctorow at SFU
Hear­ing Cory Doc­torow (the sci­ence fic­tion writer and one of the main con­trib­u­tors to the best blog on the web, Boing Boing) speak was a blast: it’s the intel­lec­tu­al equiv­a­lent of a roller coast­er at Dis­ney­world. He’d be pleased to hear that metaphor, I sus­pect, because as he men­tioned “I have a sort of love/hate rela­tion­ship with the Dis­ney cor­po­ra­tion.” (One of his ear­ly books, Down and out in the Mag­ic King­dom which you can get in text or audio book com­plete­ly for free, deals with Dis­ney in the future at some length)

His lec­ture, enti­tled “The Total­i­tar­i­an Urge”, fol­lowed the themes of Con­trol and Chaos, the Inter­net and explo­sion of knowl­edge shar­ing ver­sus the con­stant attempts by those less enlight­ened who want to reach out and keep your com­put­er, your thoughts, your ideas, cre­ations and col­lab­o­ra­tions under their sur­veil­lance or worse yet, arrest you for hav­ing them. It’s a rare treat when a speak­er is equal parts chal­leng­ing and well informed, play­ful and schol­ar­ly, rue­ful and insight­ful. He threw out some won­der­ful ver­bal and thought-pro­vok­ing fire­works like ‘The war on abstract nouns’, that Mark Twain’s orig­i­nal philo­soph­i­cal view of the world was that of a bil­liard table before the first shot is tak­en, and that if we knew every­thing about that first stroke of the cue ball, we could pre­dict the future of the whole game (and how that view has even­tu­al­ly become less and less viable as we know more and the Inter­net enables such extra­or­di­nary degrees of non-lin­ear shar­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tion). He spoke of how DRMs (Dig­i­tal Rights Man­age­ments schemes) and gov­ern­ment attempts at con­trol­ling the shar­ing of data is lit­er­al­ly a return to the Dark Ages (when Alchemists were the Sci­en­tists, but just did­n’t share their find­ings)

I saw a lot of friends there, and am pleased to see that one of them, Ian­iv Schwe­ber, has post­ed the audio of the talk at Now­Pub­lic, a grass-roots cit­i­zen-pro­duced News Site. Lis­ten for your­self.

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