Science

Cory Doctorow on Little Atoms

Last week Neil Denny and I had the chance to interview Cory Doctorow, author of books like Little Brother and blogs like BoingBoing. He lives and works in London, so we were able to check out his amazing office (you can see some pics that don’t do it justice [I feel awkward when taking photos in private situations and so I just snapped a few and left it at that]).

We discussed the nature of online and offline privacy, copyright, and free speech. I really dig his passion when discussing his penchant for going beyond just talking about these issues to actively engaging in political activism. (The same day as our interview, he was headed to a rally against the Digital Economy Bill, and he’s on board with the libel reform movement.)

I shot some video of the interview, but my poor little camera could only do about 30 minutes. If you’d like to hear more from our interview, listen to Little Atoms tonight at 7pm BST or on the archived podcast anytime thereafter.

Watch on YouTube

Other two parts after the jump!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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3 Comments

  1. Hey Mabinogi, you got a thing for blokes with big, thick… 5″ 50’s style glasses?

    I think Doctorow and advocates of the whole “friction-free economy” idea exaggerate their case. Most company’s costs are salaries of people involved in things like marketing or design or support, which while Internet can make more efficient, it’s not by orders of magnitude. And while it can make supply chains more efficient and tighten up on cash flow requirements, you still need billions of dollars if you want to fund manufacture.

    Even in industries such as music & books in which all the infrastructure for stamping CD’s or printing on paper can be eliminated the end product is not going to be that much cheaper. That’s because most of the costs are already in royalties and promotion. What _has_ changed is economy of scale: you don’t need 100k sales to justify distributing the product, so small artists now have a chance to sell their work independently.

    On copyright he doesn’t mention my biggest peeve: the arcane jurisdictional rules that limit the free sale of copyrighted materials across borders. Living in South Africa for example I can’t buy MP3’s from iTunes; or from Amazon; or a lot of books from audiobooks; all because of copyright laws, and even though easy international payment mechanisms have long been in place. The entertainment industry also attempts to control distribution by means of region codes on DVDs, for example. These restrictions are absurd and do nothing but promote rampant piracy, and given the needless financial losses incurred these industries have been startlingly slow to adjust.

  2. I’ve never read any of his books and I guess I sort of dismissed him as a sort of pseudointellectual, privacy and Disney obsessed hipster based on his appearance and the general nature of Boingboing. But that was obviously rather unfounded. He is clearly HIGHLY intelligent. This was really interesting.

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