Another Ebook seller goes DRM free

Select O’Reilly Books Soon on Kindle, and as DRM-free Digital Bundles (Including EPUB) – Tools of Change for Publishing

Three cheers for O’Reilly, though I note they are still “examining custom watermarking solutions”. They don’t work either i’m afraid, but at least they don’t restrict usage for the purchaser. Could it be that publishers are finally starting to understand what so many authors have been saying?

The introduction to “Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow said it best. Most authors have far less to worry about from piracy than from obscurity – even in the competitive world of tech books – and by the time they’re popular enough for piracy to have an actual impact (more damage than good done), you’re also popular enough that the total losses are so small as to be absorbable.

On that topic by the way, anyone who hasn’t read Little Brother yet – go do it. Peer into the near future and understand just how terrible the world the government has planned for you is.

Enjoy the ride, Citizen.

Another one weighing in on the Internet makes you stupid debate

Business Technology : Does the Internet Make Us Think Different?

This one does have an interesting point, that we’re “outsourcing” our memory to the internet in some degree. This may well be true, though I think if this is the case it stretches back further than just the internet (calculators will rob children of the ability to do math, anybody?)

One point though is quite valid – people who remember things might become less valuable than people who can find information. In software development I believe this is quite true. There are lots of things I don’t remember, about the languages I use and the environments I work in. Plenty that I do of course as I work with these systems every day, but plenty that I don’t.

What I can do though is find information. Anything I need to do, given some time, I can find out how. Google is a software developer’s best friend.

I’ve met programmers who have rote-learned language details and object oriented concepts and have proven to be absolutely useless when they sit down to work. The first obstacle they come across they have to stop and ask for help, as they’ve absolutely no idea how to use the resources at their fingertips to find a solution.

The internet, or more correctly Technology in general, has changed the way we think, and the way we learn. Rote learning is no longer as important or emphasised, more attention is placed on critical thinking and less on volumes of trivial knowledge available for recall.

We’ve changed. The question is – is this a bad thing?

I don’t think so.

The Scalzi Hatemail Contest

Whatever » “Hate Mail” Contest: Be in the Book!

Over at Whatever John Scalzi is running a contest based on his upcoming book “Your Hatemail Will Be Graded”, a book about the last ten years he has been running his blog. If you’re a fan of Scalzi (as I am), you’ve probably already preordered yourself one of the limited edition copies when he announced them a few weeks ago and are currently waiting less-than-patiently for september to roll around so they’ll arrive all crisp, fresh and signed in your mailbox.

In the meantime, Scalzi has thrown open this post in a request for creative abusive hatemail. The best posters will win copies of the book when it is published as well as have their hatemail published in the back of the book. The very best entry will be featured on the book jacket.

Sounds like a bit of fun, I know i’ll be heading over there later on tonight to have a bash. Drop in to try out, or just gape in awe at the vitriol, filth and obscenity his readers can throw at him.

Nick Carr on reading disorders

The latest in the ongoing saga:

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr’s Blog: Gains and losses

I’ve just powered through 14-odd latest posts on Rough Type (I got a bit behind) and am quite surprised by the identification of what Nick Carr would consider a growing trend – people used to the hypertext, short-burst narrative form of information on the internet are reporting they can’t read longer narrative works.  They find themselves edgy, unable to concentrate after a few pages.

Is this something that is quite common? Or is it perhaps something that a small subset of people are experiencing, a subset who also happen to be fans of Nick Carr’s blog? (Of which I myself have been in two minds about for some time).

I know i’ve personally never noticed this as a problem.  There are periods when I don’t read, but they are due mainly to a lack of time rather than a lack of ability.  This past weekend I read two fiction books and a novella.  Admittedly the two books were short compared to what I usually read (3-4 hundred pages) and weren’t huge idea novels that made me think a great deal, just entertainment.  I paid for that with the Novella however which was Animal Farm, by George Orwell – a thought provoking novel for anyone who has considered moral philosophy in conjunction with governance, or just governments and history in general.

The point is, I read these books over the course of hours, curled in a chair (or at a table), utterly engrossed without feeling the need to rush to check my email, my rss feeds, the daily webcomics or any of a thousand other things I do whilst at a computer terminal during the day. 

In fact, as I become more and more engrossed in the information culture, I find it easier and easier to unplug. Now more than ever there is something incredibly satisfying about a static novel, whether it be on the screen of my pda, or one of the hundreds of hard and paperbacks that I am slowly filling my house with, much to my wife’s continued irritation.

To me, this “reading attention deficit disorder” reeks of throwing blame for poor attention and self-control at our culture once again.  Another example of the blame culture that is infesting our globe. 

If you can’t read it’s because you’ve let yourself lose the ability, not because someone or thing stole it.  Get some willpower and take it back.  Take some responsibility for your own life and condition for a change.

Interview with Cory Doctorow

I’m not the worlds biggest Doctorow fan i’m afraid.  I’ve read through some of his stuff, I remember enjoying “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” but I can’t remember much about it, which says it didn’t really speak to me.  (Something about community reputation systems as currency from memory).

I’m currently reading his latest “Little Brother” however, courtesy of creative commons, and i’ll be heading to my local bookstore tonight to ask them to get in a couple of copies if they don’t have it already, one for me and one for a workmate who I know will love it.

Cory Doctorow | The A.V. Club

Here is Cory talking about his new book, and other stuff.  I’ll post more about it once it’s finished but just from the first third I can say this: This is the book that every American must read.  The book that every Australian must read.  The book that every Englander must read. 

Simply said, this is the book that -everyone- must read.  It’s a warning of what might be coming, and soon, as well as an exploration of the things we can do to protect ourselves from our own government.

It’s brilliant.

Fox news are racists.

Yeah, like thats news to anyone.  Scalzi has the scoop and a detailed, insightful analysis over at whatever:

http://scalzi.com/whatever/?p=870

I particularly like the part about how Michelle Malkin is as familiar with logical thinking as a rainbow trout is with knitting.
This will be an interesting election over there in the states.  The rest of the world are watching with mild interest to see how it will turn out and Fox News is happily chirping away, confirming all our worst suspicions about the American People.  What a laugh.