When Wikipedia darkened it's site last week to protest the passing of laws that would have placed new restrictions on our use of the internet to share books, music and video, I was very glad to have just finished reading two excellent collections of essays by Cory Doctorow on the issues involved.
Cory Doctorow by Derryl Murphy
Doctorow was born in Toronto and has a reputation as an author of fine science-fiction and as a co-editor of the wildly popular blog Boing Boing. He has also been writing marvelously entertaining articles on the internet using down-to-earth, easy to understand language and examples from everyday life.
In his first collection -- Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future he writes in detail about the negative effects of Digital Rights Management (DRM) and other forms of control on the internet.
Doctorow's argument boils down to his belief that whatever we lose in the free exchange of information on the internet, we will gain in innovations which will enrich our culture in ways that cannot yet be predicted. Call him an optimist.
Doctorow has given away free downloads of all his novels from the beginning of his career. He has found that by making these copies free and encouraging his fans to share them online he has expanded the market for the printed editions of his books.
In his latest collection -- Context: Further Selected Essays on Productivity, Creativity, Parenting, and Politics in the 21st Century he writes about how these issues affect him as a creative writer and as a new parent.
He explains intellectual property, the "information economy", copyright enforcement and digital licensing in clearly understandable ways.
His warnings about the vulnerability of our passwords and our personal data online are frightening and sobering.
He explains why streaming will never replace the downloading of music online.
He also talks about how he manages the hundreds of non-spam emails he gets every day, and why he will never buy an iPad.
Together these books cover ten years of exciting, insightful coverage of these increasingly important issues in a highly readable way.