Cory Doctorow Trip Report

It all started when Rob of Nine mentioned that he wanted to go see Cory’s talk. At first I shrugged it off, thinking, a) it wasn’t my idea and b) what? take an afternoon off work to do something intellectually stimulating?

Of course I thought better of it. I dunno why, but beer had very little appeal for me, so I didn’t go get one prior, preferring to stick my head in the University Bookstore, where, surprise, surprise, I ran into Tom and Uta Poiker. If there is a more pointedly a propos location for a chance meeting with fellow Unitarians than a university bookstore, it’s hard to imagine.

I resisted the temptations of the bookstore, and made my way along the south side of the Academic Quadrangle at SFU, imbibing the energy “as if it were wine” which is one third dream one third veritas and one third bodily high spirits. Then I got to a pay phone (my cell phone died and I was too whatever last night to remember to recharge it) and called Rob of Nine. I told him to take his time getting up there as there was absolutely no sign of a lineup at 2 pm and I was going to be happy to sit there and wait for him. He insisted on sitting down front, which I don’t normally do, but he said it’s better for heckling. I called him a picky son of a bitch and as always he cheerfully agreed.

The room was a cascade of utilitarian ugliness. From the dark splotched grey of the concrete floors to the walls, which were the colour of spoiled salmon…. eesh.. to the chipped fake wood grain of the pull out writing tables… it was a fucking hideous room that holds about 300 people. The ceiling’s the only nice thing about the room, with well placed indirect fluorescent light.

A guy from 102.7 Co-op Radio is taping the show. During his conversation with some of the earlygoers, I learn that I could have skipped this whole thing and just listened to the podcast from last night’s lecture, rather than something so oldfashioned as a lecture tour. What is this, Mark Twain’s last lecture tour?…. and then, later on in his talk, he mentions Mark Twain. Little frisson of notetaking.

Rob of Nine showed up about 2:50, all out of puff because he set his reminder back at the office for when he was supposed to LEAVE and he thought that’s when it STARTED. I didn’t even turn around as I heard him enter, his gait is so distinctive I knew it was him (skip-skip, skip-skip, skip-skip down the stairs). Then, praise him with great praise, he hauled in cold water and FruityO’s so I was no longer parched and peckish. THEN he gave me some more swag from the CES in Vegas, including a pen which has postit notes built into it. Schmile. Nice pen.

At exactly 3:30 Cory came in and started. His introduction was the most mercifully short evah, and the guy didn’t even get Cory’s name right, calling him “Barry”.

When he turned up the mike, Cory said, “Luke, I’m your father…” the first of many popcult references during the talk.

Other interesting lines…. “People are hard. Technology is easy.”

We…. according to Cory is, by implication, “Everybody who has access to the internet” which is an interesting case of We, in my opinion.

As a culture, using the internet, we are pushing the boundaries of what can and can’t be done with collaborative technology.

He claims that Wikipedia is an amazing tool for pedagogy – if you’re forcing your students to edit it and make it better!

He frequently quoted that old chestnut of Cardinal Richelieu’s

“Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him” and when he added, with respect to the surveillance society, that we were all in that boat, I said in an aside to Rob which I did not intend Cory to hear, “I hope so,” at which point Cory snickered and then repeated the line to the crowd, which provoked titters.

He referred to the coming storm over privacy as a “data Valdez” which Rob and I quite enjoyed.

He referred to Usenet as PaleoFacebook, which really cracked me up. And then there was no time for questions, as he blasted through an hour and a half with truly blinding speed.

Advice?  He says encrypt everything.

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Born when atmospheric carbon was 316 PPM. Settled on MST country since 1997. Parent, grandparent.

2 thoughts on “Cory Doctorow Trip Report”

  1. So in the meantime I looked him up and feel like an idiot for only faint bells ringing at your first mention of his name.

    What a blast that lecture was!

    Oldfud utterly agrees with Cory’s advice.

  2. Hard to encrypt a blog. But Rob of Nine and I had an interesting conversation afterwards about messaging and encryption.

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