Results tagged “Cory Doctorow” from kwc blog

Book: Eastern Standard Tribe

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I love BoingBoing, I love the EFF, and I love what Cory Doctorow is doing to change the conversation around copyright and compensation by allowing anyone to download his works for free. I also love Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which was the Doctorow's first novel.

With all that praise out of the way, let me know say -- hmm, how should I phrase this -- well, Eastern Standard Tribe sucks. The first chapter promises future cleverness by playing with the relationship between the narrator/protagonist and the reader. The early following chapters also promise an interesting riff on our relationship with the time zone that we live in and how that affects our relationship in the global community. I don't know where I transitioned from eager-cool-what's-next page flipping into eager-just-get-to-the-end page flipping, but somewhere in this short book the story fell flat (maybe this would be better as an even shorter story). Doctorow shows you the beginning, and he shows you the end, and you expect some clever twists inbetween -- instead the books keep marching in a straight line. Also, not to offend my HCI friends out there, but the User Experience angle in the book just doesn't work.

Don't trust what I say: download EST for free, breeze through the first few chapters (it's a light read), and decide for yourself (did I mention it's free?). While you're at it, read Down and Out, whether or not you end up liking EST, because -- did I mention? -- it's free also (and better).

Book: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

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This book stands on the shoulders of the sci-fi authors that preceded it, and even manages to tip its hat to at least one (the Snow Crash parade). This is not to say the book is unimaginative. Rather, Doctorow takes samiliar SF premises and spins a dark-humored-but-fun yarn about an "ad hoc" named Jules who works at the Disneyland of the future, a future where money and death have been eliminated, and instead everyone is driven to elevate their "Whuffies" (peer respect).

In many ways, Doctorow's vision of the future is what would happen if you took the current social ecosystem of blogging and replicated that for all social interaction. Interaction is multimedia, occurring both offline and online simulatenously over multiple channels. "Whuffies" are much like your Technorati cosmos links or your Friendster list, and communities are fluid with quick shifting of allegiances like online communities.

His prose won't stand up to Stephenson or Gibson in terms of lyrical analogies or clever turns, but it flows well and pulls you through the book. I also give Doctorow extra props for (a) releasing the pdf of the book for free, and (b) being a regular contributor to BoingBoing, which quickly became my favorite filter. The dozen or so bucks I paid for the book was worth those two facts alone, and imagine my pleasure that the book was actually fun to read; I've gotten more than I paid for.