Friday, April 17, 2015

Information Doesn't Want to Be Free (it wants to not be anthropomorphized)

Computers and the Internet are essential to the well being of the vast majority of humanity. People with access to the Internet score higher on any measure of quality of life you care to measure - health, education, income, life expectancy, etc. The global network of computers helps artists find fans, small farmers find markets, abused women find legal advice, and LGBTQ teens in small towns find acceptance and moral support. It helps the disenfranchised tell their stories and it helps political activists get their message out.

Computers and the Internet are here to stay. They occupy our vehicles, our workplaces, our homes, our pockets, and in some cases our bodies. They are incredibly powerful tools. Like other powerful tools they can be a great boon. They can also do great harm. 

The rules and regulations that we put in place surrounding computers and the Internet are byzantine and may at first glance appear to be dry and boring. In fact, they are critically important to promoting a free and prosperous society. Luckily, we have Cory Doctorow to help us contextualize and understand the incredibly complex issues surrounding computers, the Internet, and intellectual property.

In his latest book, Information Doesn't Want to Be Free, Doctorow unpacks the complex issues surrounding Internet policy, surveillance, security, privacy, digital rights management (DRM), and how artists can make a living in the digital age. Doctorow does all this in his characteristic breezy, conversational style, making the minutae of International copyright agreements interesting, engaging, and shows how they are relevant to all of us.

If you are someone who uses computers or the Internet (that means you!), this book is essential reading.

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