Monday, June 24, 2013

Makers by Cory Doctorow

Makers, Cory Doctorow.  New York: Doherty, Tom Associates, L.L.C., 2009.  e-book, 547 pps.

You can download Makers for free at Cory Doctorow's site here: 

Cory Doctorow [@doctorow on Twitter] writes books for geeks, pirates, nerds, and other rads like me.  There has been bits of speculation that we are now in the period of post-work.  Makers addresses this in the form of we the common people doing it for ourselves.  Squatters down on their luck have known this for a long time.  They take over abandoned buildings-- I actually met a squatter from New York City passing through Pennsylvania once-- and make them into homes until the cops and city officials come to throw them out.  

The free download from Craphound include a wonderful essay on the anti-copyright activists, or Big Hollywood.  These people are to be despised by any decent citizen.  Once I buy a book, e-book or otherwise, it should be mine to gift to someone else, lend out, sell, scribble on the pages, write found poetry from or whatever.  

The other day I was in a major chain bookstore and a guy came by to ask the e-reader associates a question.  He said he was a teacher, and he wanted to copy a few pages out of an e-book that he had paid for in order to share them with a class that he was currently teaching.  The e-book associate hemmed and hawed and spewed forth some bullshit about D.R.M.  Teachers were always permitted to photocopy pages out of any book at the library for their students.  This man had more of a right to print out pages from an e-book which he had purchased than any of the rest of us do.  He walked away mumbling something about taking screenshots of the pages he wanted.  I wanted to shout after him, "You go, Teach!" 

Big Hollywood and the political idiots making digital laws would have us believe that we are buying a "license" to use an e-book.  As Cory Doctorow tells us, the book industry itself does not talk about the increase in licenses for e-books bought-- they talk about e-book sales.  Indeed, the lie is exposed by the button that says "buy" on my computer.  Due to perception problems and ocular-motor dysfunction from a traumatic brain injury, my e-reader has given me back the ability to read for more than a half hour at a time.  If I hadn't had my life-changing brain damage, I would have stuck with the printed pages of regular books.  No one is [yet] arguing about my right to do as I wish with those.

So Big Hollywood, ACTA, DRM, RIAA, CRAPTA and all you other fancy mancy pantsy morons, you can go away now thank you very much.  The beginning essay titled "About this download" should be required reading for all of the playahs who want to pry my e-book out of my possession.

After a nifty dedication on page 12, the serious story begins on page 14.  There are news reporters in Makers and a rich guy who figures into Makers.  The rich guy, one Landon Kettlewell, is speaking about how technology has killed off travel agents and record labels.  He says "Capitalism is eating itself."

I am a mall rat and have been that way ever since I was old enough to take myself to a mall on a bus.  There are malls in Makers.  There are old abandoned malls and pieces of land which folks begin to use in order to earn a living.  A couple of the heros in Makers have started their own industry in one such under-used mall.  And the people like it.Nearby is a colorful shantytown where some of the folks who work at the mall live along with some other colorful people.  Soon there are start-ups all over the United States.  Some folks fall in and out of love.  There are fat clinics-- folks who sign up for them are called fatkins-- for people who want to be thin.  So yeah, obesity treatment with a catch.  Like in present life, folks who opt for surgical treatment have to take vitamins and supplements.  Unlike today, the fatkins have to eat 10,000 calories a day in order to live.  Friendships are made, broken and remade.  The start-ups expand internationally, including into Brazil which is its' own delightful sub-story. 

A disgrunted fired employee from a large popular amusement park is taken in and that is where the trouble, serious trouble, begins.  This trouble is akin to the Girl Scouts no longer being allowed to sing the song about friendship and silver and gold because of copy-hog issues.  The copy-monopolists are in full-force but something happens and they don't quite get their way.  I won't give away the ending, sorry folks, but it was worth it.  There is something there about each one doing what their talents and interests lead them to do.

sapphoq reviews says:  I recently came across a review by someone who was not a techie, geek, nerd or rad.  The reviewer did not "get it" and confessed to not having been able to finish the book.  Cory Doctorow does not write for regular people.  Makers, like all of the other Doctorow books, is written for folks like me and possibly you.  If you understand that security is not the opposite of privacy, you should read Makers.  If you cheer on the folks with the masks at protests world-wide, you should read Makers.  If you know where the nearest local Makerspace is, you will love Makers.  Absolutely and highly recommended.  Makers is love.

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