Cory Doctorow seminar

by Henry on May 10, 2017

Cory Doctorow’s new book, _Walkaway_, a novel, an argument and a utopia, all bound up into one, is out. And we’re running a seminar on it. The participants and their posts are all below.

* Andrew Brown is the author of Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future that Disappeared, and a writer and editor at the Guardian. Chatter chatter bang bang.

* Henry Farrell blogs at Crooked Timber. No Exit.

* Maria Farrell blogs at Crooked Timber. Just Meat Following Rules.

* John Holbo blogs at Crooked Timber. The One Body Problem

* Neville Morley is professor of classics and ancient history at Exeter. Free Your Mind (And the Rest Will Follow?)

* Julia Powles is a prolific writer on privacy and technology, and a researcher at Cornell Tech. Walking Away from Hard Problems.

* Eric Rauchway blogs at Crooked Timber. From Scarcity to Abundance.

* Bruce Schneier is the author of Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World, and a cryptographer and public intellectual. The Quick vs the Strong: Commentary on Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway.

* Astra Taylor is author of The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, a documentary film-maker, and much else besides. Virality is a double-edged sword.

* Belle Waring blogs at Crooked Timber. The Rapture of the Pretty Hip People, Actually.

* Cory Doctorow is Cory Doctorow. Coase’s Spectre

Coase’s Spectre

by Cory Doctorow on May 10, 2017

If you’ve read Walkaway (or my other books), you know that I’m not squeamish about taboos, even (especially) my own. I even confess to a certain childish, reactionary pleasure in breaking through them (especially my own!).

But I have a single to-date-inviolable taboo, inculcated into my writerly soul by the elders who nurtured and taught me when I was a baby writer: DON’T RESPOND TO CRITICS. Not when they’re right, especially not when they’re wrong. It never reflects well on you. You can privately gripe to your good friends about unfair criticism (or worse, fair criticism!), but people who don’t like your book don’t like your book and you can’t make them like your book by explaining why they’re wrong, and the spectacle of you doing this will likely convince other people that you’re the kind of fool whose books should not touched with a 3.048m pole.

A corollary, gleaned from the wonderful Steven Brust when I was a baby writer haunting Usenet in the late 1980s: “telling a writer you think his book’s no good is like telling him he’s got an ugly kid. Even if it’s true, the writer did everything he could to prevent it and now it’s too late to do anything about it.”

Rules are made to be broken. These two rules of thumb have served me well in my writerly and readerly life, but a symposium like this is an extraordinary circumstance, a Temporary Autonomous Zone where even the deepest-felt taboos are exploded without mercy. Let us press on, even as my inner compass whirls, unmoored from the norms that were its magnetic north. [click to continue…]

Comey and Hypocrisy

by John Holbo on May 10, 2017

It is not hypocritical in the least for Democrats to be outraged about Comey over the Clinton business and also to be outraged over Trump’s firing of Comey, apparently to hinder FBI investigations of Trump and his associates. (One presumes Trump has a motive for the firing and the official reason is obviously not the real one.)

If Republicans try to troll Democrats – and I see that they already are – here’s the short, sharp response: we all agree that someone may deserve to be punished, but also that proper procedures for punishing them need to be observed. This is not hypocrisy. It’s the rule of law. If I say Smith should be arrested for capital crimes, and then I am outraged when Smith dies in custody in a suspicious manner, suggesting the police might be covering their own crimes, I am not a hypocrite. The firing is like that. If you care about the rule of law, you are outraged that Comey was fired today. If you care about the integrity of US elections, you are outraged he wasn’t fired before. There is no tension in the view that the rule of law is good, yet the integrity of elections is also good. If Republicans want to make the case that one or both of these are bad, or that it’s wrong to want both, let them make their case openly and honestly.