01 Aug Interesting people
There are lots of smart, interesting people out there. Usually, you come across these people online, you read their blog, see if they’re pithy and worth following on Twitter, or maybe even sign up for their newsletter if they’re really interesting (and well-written) like Stephen Elliott, creator of The Rumpus. (How did I miss The Rumpus until this summer? All kinds of neat things are happening over there, like their Letters to Everyone and their newest endeavour, Letters for Kids, which I love.)
Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to see an interesting person speak live and in person at The Long Now Foundation’s Seminars About Long-term Thinking. Cory Doctorow gave a talk on “The Coming Century of War Against Your Computer,” although a more accurate title would have been “The War Between Computer Owners and Users That’s Happening Right Now.” Doctorow spoke for about an hour, and it was heady stuff. Honestly, I had a hard time keeping up. I took notes on my phone, which look nonsensical today.
I’m pretty sure that I did manage to discern the essential nugget of the talk though, which was that the rights and interests of users of computers and the rights and interests of owners of computers will increasingly conflict with one another. If you’re using a work computer, does your employer have the right to log and track your activities on Facebook? After all, they own the machine.
Another example Doctorow used, that’s clearly more contentious, is in the use of computers outside of the traditional lap top/desk top usage. If you have a prosthetic limb that uses software, and another company releases better software, shouldn’t you be allowed to get that? Doctorow also touched on issues of surveillance, conjured up some Orwellian spectres, and shared his newfound love of Burning Man. Although I’m a longtime BoingBoing.net reader, I haven’t read any of Doctorow’s books – something I plan to remedy shortly, starting with the SF-based Little Brother.