Agent K put it best, “Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.” Some things once known, cannot be unknown.

There’s a useful concept to think about here: “Bezzle,” JK Galbraith’s term for “the magic interval when a confidence trickster knows he has the money he has appropriated but the victim does not yet understand that he has lost it.”

~ Cory Doctorow from,

This interesting, tiny detour of a word is just one bit of gobsmacking available from Doctorow. He’s actually writing about managing our retreat from all the housing we currently have in flood plains. But along the way, he takes us into the World of the Inconceivable via radium suppositories. (And yes, I did proofread the previous sentence.)


Where’s the cake?

Forty years ago, we had cake and asked for icing on top of it. Today, all we have left is the icing, and we’ve forgotten that the cake was ever there. If code isn’t licensed as “free,” you’d best leave it alone.

~ Cory Doctorow from,

This is a sweeping tour of software, and licenses and litigation and … well, it’s a sweeping tour of 40 years as software evolved into what people made of it. Humans move at human speeds. The best of us type north of a 100-words-per-minute, and we’re writing code that actually writes lower code that writes… about 5 layers deep. And day after day we invent new things and new ways to combine those things. We imagine great things and build great things and some of us imagine stupid shit and try to take advantage of others. But most of us just follow our “hey, that’s interesting…”

What’s going to happen in 40 years?

Hah, you thought I was going to end, as usual, on a question. No, I want to say clearly: I have not idea what’s going to happen in 40 years. I know that 30 years ago, I had not the slightest, tiniest, sliver, of an inkling of a clue what any of what we were scotch-taping together would become. A whole bunch of people, whom I had/continue-to-have, the distinct pleasure of exchanging ideas with… Well there’s a whole bunch of people building cool stuff, solving hard problems, and just generally moving the human race forward. Pretty durn happy to be tinkering away in my little corner of The Bazaar.


A new deal for copyright

If you have to understand the law to read a book, we have failed. If you have to enter into a contract – any contract, even a ‘‘good’’ contract – to read a book, we have failed.

These are cultural, not industrial activities. It’s insane to ask people to sign contracts to read books. Seriously, who actually thinks this is a good idea?

Maybe we do need rules for culture, and maybe we even need laws for culture, but they shouldn’t – and can’t – be the rules we designed for industry.

It’s not always easy to tell the difference be­tween culture and industry, but there are plenty of cases where it’s totally obvious. For those fuzzy cases in the middle, come up with some guidelines and let the courts apply them.

It’s a wildly imperfect system, but at the very least, it isn’t the grossly Kafkaesque idea that you should have to enter into a 22,000-word agreement with Apple, AT&T, and Random House audio in order to listen to a 15,000-word novella.

~ Cory Doctorow from,