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My most meaningful encounter with Doctorow occurred several years ago, when my family had the chance to spend the afternoon with Doctorow, who at the time was living in a house next to the home of our mutual friend, Marc Siegel, a writer and doctor. Young Edgar Lawrence Doctorow, when he was in middle or high school, was given an assignment in English class: interview and write a profile of the most interesting person you know. I should say that after all this time I might be mistaken about some specifics of this account, and it is possible that I have re-arranged them to improve the actual story. I cannot call Alex a personal friend, as I never got to know him that well, but he was an important mentor of sorts, as well as a writing inspiration. I appreciated that Alex, despite having a lot of writing projects of his own going all the time, was always available when I would visit the Voice to discuss a story idea or deliver my copy.
Alex was a scourge of the capitalist elites and their fawning apologists in the corporate media, of course, but he also played an important role as a merciless critic of those so-called progressive journalists who lost their courage, sold out or were simply wrong on an issue. I was personally grateful to Alex in that regard back in January 2004 when he came unasked to my defense in both Counterpunch and a Nation “Beat the Devil” column, tackling Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel and others for their criticism of an article I had written almost a year earlier about looming Iraq invasion in which I compared President George W.
Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.
Also, listen to Dave Lindorff on Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio on CFEV Radio in Victoria, Canada.
We know that every day, consistently, we have no fewer than 1000 to 1500 readers visiting this site, even on days when we have not posted new original articles. Seattle, WA -- Ever since moving to Seattle it’s become clear to me that though most of its inhabitants identify as liberals, the dominant white culture enables a culture of armchair liberals. New York City -- Is there anything less threatening than a morbidly obese cop on a motor scooter? Compartimos esta charla de Cory Doctorow The coming war on general computation, charla en Berlín en diciembre 2011. The famed author talks about bringing to life the infamous Collyer brothers in his new novel.
He describes the huge crowd that gathered when the brothers were found dead and the cops were pulling out tons of stuff.
At some point, Doctorow told us a story of his earliest days as a writer, when he was a boy growing up in the Bronx (very close to where my mother had lived at the same time). His fellow students focused on the obvious: their parents or, if they were fortunate enough to know one, a police office, a soldier, or a firefighter. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when I began working as a freelance journalist, Alex and his writing colleague James Ridgeway encouraged me to contribute articles which they sometimes ran as part their own page in the Village Voice in New York, thus sparing me having to deal with the editor and the editorial cliques at the paper, which were not particularly open to newcomers like myself.
He was quick with an incisive comment or a suggestion for a turn of phrase, and while I’ve never developed his rapier-sharp wit, it remains something to which I continually aspire. Jackie Smith -- of the International Network of Scholar Activsts -- and TCBH writer Alfredo Lopez.
With Ragtime, The Book of Daniel, The March, Billy Bathgate, and other novels, Doctorow was able to interweave US history with worlds of his own concoction so that readers could barely discern the seams.
He's also on Twitter and Facebook.Mother Jones is a nonprofit, and stories like this are made possible by readers like you. Just click on the cover image to go to the Paypal payment page, make your payment, and send a note to Dave calling his attention to the payment, and giving your mail address and the name you want the inscription addressed to. But this story, which left a strong impression on my then-impressionable young daughters, did become part of my own family's lore. Clair at Counterpunch magazine have helped our struggling little online left alternative newspaper mightily by running most of our articles on their site when other allegedly progressive news aggregator sites have rejected stories as being too radical, or in the case of Truthout, have simply barred us from their site. Not surprising, considering he had a lot of material for his latest novel - a LOT of material. In subsequent years, when my girls had to produce essays for school's assignments, they often wondered whether they could embellish.
Rita Braver examines the fine print: The peaceful park in Harlem belies its sensational past. Doctorow was for decades a contributor to and supporter of The Nation, where I once worked, and I had the thrill to be in his company on several occasions. So in advance, I give you permission when I start talking quickly to do this and I will slow down. I don't recall whether he told me this or I heard or read it in an interview, but Doctorow once remarked that when he initiated a novel he usually did not know how it would unfold—an astounding comment given the intricacies and strength of his narratives.

After witnessing so much evil, he now stood watch in front of a Bronx apartment building and each day took in a much different different world. A pair of upper crust recluses, they made headlines in the 1940s, when reporters discovered how they hoarded tons of treasure and trash. Edgar's tale of the doorman's harrowing experience with the Holocaust and his journey to America so moved his teacher and school officials that they decided that other students would benefit from direct interaction with this witness to recent history. This might have been the beginning of his decades-long project to blend history with the wonders of his fertile imagination, and millions of readers have benefited from this process.
A teacher or administrator called Edgar's home and asked one of his parents if they could arrange for the doorman to come to the school for an assembly where he would be honored by the school and share his story with all. But, tonight, I want to talk about something more important -- I want to talk about general purpose computers.
It took weeks to figure out that he actually died first, killed by one of his own booby traps. In the beginning, we had packaged software, and the attendant industry, and we had sneakernet. So, we had floppy disks in ziplock bags, or in cardboard boxes, hung on pegs in shops, and sold like candy bars and magazines.
Doctorow, now one of the nation's most acclaimed novelists, with a string of awards and bestsellers to his name, grew up on tales of the horrors behind the Collyer Brothers' doors. And they were eminently susceptible to duplication, and so they were duplicated quickly, and widely, and this was to the great chagrin of people who made and sold software. First, they were commercially unpopular, of course, because they reduced the usefulness of the software to the legitimate purchasers, while leaving the people who took the software without paying for it untouched.
The legitimate purchasers resented the non-functionality of their backups, they hated the loss of scarce ports to the authentication dongles, and they resented the inconvenience of having to transport large manuals when they wanted to run their software. And second, these didn't stop pirates, who found it trivial to patch the software and bypass authentication.
Typically, the way that happened is some expert who had possession of technology and expertise of equivalent sophistication to the software vendor itself, would reverse engineer the software and release cracked versions that quickly became widely circulated. And of course, I didn't feel it necessary to write anything for several years." By 1960 Doctorow did write his first novel, "Welcome to Hard Times," a gritty frontier tale. Anti-copying strategies only became more fraught as networks spread; once we had BBSes, online services, USENET newsgroups, and mailing lists, the expertise of people who figured out how to defeat these authentication systems could be packaged up in software as little crack files, or, as the network capacity increased, the cracked disk images or executables themselves could be spread on their own.
By 1996, it became clear to everyone in the halls of power that there was something important about to happen. Now, information technology makes things efficient, so imagine the markets that an information economy would have.
You could buy a book for a day, you could sell the right to watch the movie for one Euro, and then you could rent out the pause button at one penny per second. You could sell movies for one price in one country, and another price in another, and so on, and so on; the fantasies of those days were a little like a boring science fiction adaptation of the Old Testament book of Numbers, a kind of tedious enumeration of every permutation of things people do with information and the ways we could charge them for it. After all, it was well and good to talk about selling someone the 24 hour right to a video, or the right to move music onto an iPod, but not the right to move music from the iPod onto another device, but how the Hell could you do that once you'd given them the file? In order to do that, to make this work, you needed to figure out how to stop computers from running certain programs and inspecting certain files and processes. For example, you could encrypt the file, and then require the user to run a program that only unlocked the file under certain circumstances. We had the WIPO Copyright Treaty, passed by the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization, which created laws that made it illegal to extract secrets from unlocking programs, and it created laws that made it illegal to extract media cleartexts from the unlocking programs while they were running, and it created laws that made it illegal to tell people how to extract secrets from unlocking programs, and created laws that made it illegal to host copyrighted works and secrets and all with a handy streamlined process that let you remove stuff from the Internet without having to screw around with lawyers, and judges, and all that crap.
That's an enormous achievement usually." But he says when it's going well, the book sort of writes itself. After all, copying only got easier following the passage of these laws -- copying will only ever get easier! And so, reality asserted itself, and everyone had a good laugh over how funny our misconceptions were when we entered the 21st century, and then a lasting peace was reached with freedom and prosperity for all. Because, like the nursery rhyme lady who swallows a spider to catch a fly, and has to swallow a bird to catch the spider, and a cat to catch the bird, and so on, so must a regulation that has broad general appeal but is disastrous in its implementation beget a new regulation aimed at shoring up the failure of the old one. One important test of whether or not a regulation is fit for a purpose is first, of course, whether it will work, but second of all, whether or not in the course of doing its work, it will have lots of effects on everything else. If I turned up and said "well, everyone knows that wheels are good and right, but have you noticed that every single bank robber has four wheels on his car when he drives away from the bank robbery?

Because we don't know how to make a wheel that is still generally useful for legitimate wheel applications but useless to bad guys.
And we can all see that the general benefits of wheels are so profound that we'd be foolish to risk them in a foolish errand to stop bank robberies by changing wheels.
Cars are special purpose, at least in comparison to wheels, and all that the addition of a hands-free phone does is add one more feature to an already-specialized technology. In fact, there's that heuristic that we can apply here -- special-purpose technologies are complex.
And you can remove features from them without doing fundamental disfiguring violence to their underlying utility. So, our regulators go off, and they blithely pass these laws, and they become part of the reality of our technological world.
In other words, an appliance is not a stripped-down computer -- it is a fully functional computer with spyware on it out of the box. Stop Online Piracy Act, bans tools like DNSSec because they can be used to defeat DNS blocking measures. In fact, the proponents of SOPA, the Motion Picture Association of America, circulated a memo, citing research that SOPA would probably work, because it uses the same measures as are used in Syria, China, and Uzbekistan, and they argued that these measures are effective in those countries, and so they would work in America, too!
The entertainment industry were just the first belligerents in this coming century-long conflict. We tend to think of them as particularly successful -- after all, here is SOPA, trembling on the verge of passage, and breaking the internet on this fundamental level in the name of preserving Top 40 music, reality TV shows, and Ashton Kutcher movies!
The triviality of copyright tells you that when other sectors of the economy start to evince concerns about the Internet and the PC, that copyright will be revealed for a minor skirmish, and not a war. The entire basis for radio regulation up until today was based on the idea that the properties of a radio are fixed at the time of manufacture, and can't be easily altered. You can't just flip a switch on your baby monitor, and turn it into something that interferes with air traffic control signals.
But powerful software-defined radios can change from baby monitor to emergency services dispatcher to air traffic controller just by loading and executing different software, which is why the first time the American telecoms regulator (the FCC) considered what would happen when we put SDRs in the field, they asked for comment on whether it should mandate that all software-defined radios should be embedded in trusted computing machines. Ultimately, whether every PC should be locked, so that the programs they run are strictly regulated by central authorities.
After all, this was the year in which we saw the debut of open sourced shape files for converting AR-15s to full automatic. And while 3D printing will give rise to plenty of trivial complaints, there will be judges in the American South and Mullahs in Iran who will lose their mindsover people in their jurisdiction printing out sex toys. The trajectory of 3D printing will most certainly raise real grievances, from solid state meth labs, to ceramic knives.
Regardless of whether you think these are real problems or merely hysterical fears, they are nevertheless the province of lobbies and interest groups that are far more influential than Hollywood and big content are on their best days, and every one of them will arrive at the same place -- "can't you just make us a general purpose computer that runs all the programs, except the ones that scare and anger us?
So I can believe that people who advocate for limiting general purpose computers will find receptive audience for their positions. So when I get into a car -- a computer I put my body into -- with my hearing aid -- a computer I put inside my body -- I want to know that these technologies are not designed to keep secrets from me, and to prevent me from terminating processes on them that work against my interests.
So, last year, the Lower Merion School District, in a middle-class, affluent suburb of Philadelphia found itself in a great deal of trouble, because it was caught distributing PCs to its students, equipped with rootkits that allowed for remote covert surveillance through the computer's camera and network connection.
It transpired that they had been photographing students thousands of times, at home and at school, awake and asleep, dressed and naked.
Meanwhile, the latest generation of lawful intercept technology can covertly operate cameras, mics, and GPSes on PCs, tablets, and mobile devices. And we haven't lost yet, but we have to win the copyright wars to keep the Internet and the PC free and open. Because these are the materiel in the wars that are to come, we won't be able to fight on without them. We have been fighting the mini-boss, and that means that great challenges are yet to come, but like all good level designers, fate has sent us a soft target to train ourselves on -- we have a organizations that fight for them -- EFF, Bits of Freedom, EDRi, CCC, Netzpolitik, La Quadrature du Net, and all the others, who are thankfully, too numerous to name here -- we may yet win the battle, and secure the ammunition we'll need for the war.
La forma que han tomado las guerras del copyright nos muestra pistas de una venidera lucha acerca del destino de la computadora de uso general en sí misma.

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