I read Cory Doctorow’s didactic dystopian near future Speculative Fiction (“SF”) Young Adult (“YA”) novels Pirate Cinema, and Walkaway, and the collection of novellas Radicalized in the last few years. I recall his story “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth“, published in his 2007 collection Overclocked and widely reprinted. I have recently read his novels Little Brother and Homeland.
Most of his SF writing is YA. His characters explain things or do things that he explains. SF writers notoriously tended, and some still tend to explain scientific premises of the setting or plot. He tends to the explantory on coding, the internet, commerce, protests, and activism. He favours free speech too much to be “Woke“. He appears to not discuss gender identity or some Woke issues. He is progressive or Left on privacy, and opposes corporate or government surveillance and the application of behavioural economics and other “sciences” to influence people follow and be controlled to buy things or be “governed”.
He is a GenX journalist/publisher/entrepreneur/activist, born in Toronto, who has lived in London (UK) and Los Angeles. I read some of what he wrote when he was writing for Boing, Boing. He has written on information tech issues. He has published policy advocacy, technical information and opinions, and some fiction on the Internet. He now (as of early 2022) publishes “an old fashioned link-blog” – an almost daily summary of links with an RSS feed at Pluralistic, cross published as a mailing list newsletter. It include sections:
|Daily Links||On some days, links to his podcast Craphound’s news/latest blog. Some times his podcast is a reading of an essay or article published on his partially gated Medium1Medium is a publishing platform site/platform. It has a partial or soft paywall – the site tracks something and puts up a “you have x free articles left” banner. The differences between Medium and Substack affect writers. blog site.|
On most days, links to sections of a daily published short essay at plurastic.net on
issues and ideas, tech and the news.
|Hey look at this||Link to third party material, usually with interesting images|
|Wayback machine||List of links to material published on web on this day, in history,|
mainly about tech and information
|Colophon||Lists with links if any|
On March 8, 2022 he linked to his review of David Graebber and David Wenngrow’s The Dawn of Everything. I had been struggling with this book and had not finished it – it was high demand it with many holds in the library system. He refers to sections that I read, in the first half of the book. It is an interesting book that straddles the division between ideas of human evolution and culture that assume that whatever human beings do is natural and morally good, and whatever human beings do tends to greed backed by power, and morally bad things. David Graebber thought many social, economic and political institutions that have bad consequences for people are not the automatic or natural way of doing things.
On March 17, 2022, Doctorow’s article “Late stage capitalism is weird capitalism” discusses Benjamin Braun’s paper “Asset Manager Capitalism as a Corporate Governance Regime” with asides on a current attempts to reform US legislation on corporate concentration (anti-trust) and US federal central bank policy on wages and inflation.
On March 20, 2022 he reviewed Dark Factory, a YA dieselpunk novel.
On March 22, 2022 he discussed the Electronic Frontier Foundation paper “Ban online Behavioural Advertising” on privacy, data gathering, targetted advertising and surveillance capitalism.
On April 28, 2022 he discussed the dark pattern web ads that deposit cookies, build tracking of users and subsidize the sale of information that identifies web users. He mentioned a hardware ad block device. (Dark Patterns see:
- Sara Morrison, Vox, article/post “Dark patterns, the tricks websites use to make you say yes, explained“;
- Harry Brignall, The Verge, article/post “Dark Patterns: inside the interfaces designed to trick you“;
- Deceptive Design website.
He also linked to Ken MacLeod’s post of his Address to the Edinburgh Science Festival Church Service 2022 on his blog The Early Days of Better Nation. Ken MacLeod’s blog is a gateway to SF, writing, ideas and politics in Scotland.
On April 29, 2022 he discussed contextual ads, which trick Web user into opening pages that the large tech companies unilaterally interpret (use) as consent to place cookies, harvest data and receive ads.
On April 30, 2022 he discussed Disney’s excuse to break a contract to pay royalties to Alan Dean Foster for his popular Star Wars novel(s).
Cory Doctorow works hard and almost always says something new and interesting.