If you don’t know Cory Doctorow’s name, don’t feel bad. I didn’t a month ago, either.
That was, until I read, “Ready Player One,” for our review here at DGM. In the dystopian novel, the author mentions TWO freedom fighters that are still fighting the good fight for users rights in the future: Wil Wheaton and Cory Doctorow. I’m hugely familiar with Wheaton and respect his opinions enough that I’ve tried out a number of games based on his recommendations; he’s also very well known for trying to empower the geek culture many of us are a part of. However, I’d never heard of Doctorow, so I googled him and discovered that he’s a professionally published author (most of his books are released through major companies like Tor and the like), who has an agreement with his publishers that he can release the basic text of the pieces in Creative Commons formats.
For those of you unfamiliar with Creative Commons, it’s an optional license that copyright owners can place on their works that allow consumers to use their works in different ways. The most universal element is that you can share the work with others, free of charge, so long as you don’t alter the credit got the creator. The hope is that you’ll try out the content and, if you like it, buy an official copy–or, as Doctorow encourages his fans, buy copies for local libraries and schools!
It’s a really cool way of doing things and I even run a post-apocalyptic franchise that distributes our films, stories, and novels this way. (You’ll also notice that Our Silas & Ami show is distributed under a Creative Commons license, as is DgM itself!)
Well, as I researched Doctorow’s writings, I discovered, Little Brother–a near future thriller that asks a lot of highly illegal questions about privacy, security, the Constitution, and hacking!
What I found most compelling about it was the fact that, written in 2008, he managed to describe things that could happen tomorrow and described tech in a way that doesn’t feel dated six years later (no mean feat). It also doesn’t succumb to handwringing about the evil being done around us, but has a very Fight Club sensibility to it!
One of the most chilling elements of it is how it’s portrayal of a hacker trying to fight injustice and being persecuted by a failed Justice system reflects what we saw happen just last year!
Deric Lostutter (aka the hacker, KYAnonymous) is a personal friend of DG model, Nara Gordon. A member of the hacker group known as Anonymous, Lostutter is credited as originating Justice Hacks–a hyper white knight form of hacking designed to track down criminals who’ve evaded justice.
Lostutter is most famous for preventing the brutal Steubenville Rape case of 2012 from being swept under the carpet by a town willing to ignore the rape of a young girl by star athletes who shared images and video on social media after the fact. Lostutter helped draw so much national attention to Stubenville that the criminals were tried, arrested, and sentenced. (In a brutal irony, with lots of NSA and DHS allegations aimed at Lostutter for Hacking, he would receive a sentence of 10 years in prison, while the rapists would receive only a year in a juvenile facility.)
Finishing reading, Little Brother, I’m reminded of two quotes from the famous patriot, Benjamin Franklin:
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.”
Seems like Franklin would agree with both Doctorow and Lostutter. It is our hope to do an interview with Lostutter in the near future, as we have no intention of forgetting his sacrifice for a young girl no one else was willing to go to bat for.
If you’d like to read Little Brother, you can download a digital copy of the novel in a number of different formats at Cory Doctorow’s site: