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Doctorow vs Surveillance Capitalism

by spelk on September 16, 2020

Cory Doctorow

I’ve been taking more and more notice of sci-fi cyberpunk writer Cory Doctorow. He’s been quite vocal about all sorts of matters of digital privacy, capitalism, surveillance capitalism and the ethics of our future on this planet.

I’ve been following his daily blog at


via a twitter scraping bot that posts to mastodon.

More and more of the issues he brings to light on a daily basis are worth thinking about. I like the way fella can frame a problem in current world and tech context and then he gives you space to think around it.

Surveillance Capitalism

Recently he made a short novella about “How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism” available for free via Medium’s OneZero feature.

How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism

It will take you a good hour or two to read and digest but some of the issues he brings up put a different spin on what is going on with Surveillance Capitalism compared with the more established viewpoint of Shoshana Zuboff’s book on said subject.

Shoshana Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism

This isn’t just surveillance, data capture and mind manipulation by tailoring ads to your tastes.

This is more about walled gardens, tech progression, monopolies, lack of regulations, copyright lock, misinformation and distrust in our government agencies.

And I quote from the piece:

“Facebook is heralded as the origin of all of our modern plagues, and it’s not hard to see why. Some tech companies want to lock their users in but make their money by monopolizing access to the market for apps for their devices and gouging them on prices rather than by spying on them (like Apple). Some companies don’t care about locking in users because they’ve figured out how to spy on them no matter where they are and what they’re doing and can turn that surveillance into money (Google). Facebook alone among the Western tech giants has built a business based on locking in its users and spying on them all the time.”

Anyway, Cory manages to cover all bases and I would heartily recommend a read of it.

Fight against Amazon/Audible

One of Cory’s upcoming fiction book, the third on the Little Brother series, named “Attack Surface” is coming out and there are very little options in the way of getting the book out there, without it passing through the rather sticky fingers of DRM (Digital Rights Management) touting Amazon/Audible.

So as part of an experiment in marketing, Cory has decided to

Kickstart the audiobook DRM-free

and part of the pledge award tiers there are options to bundle his ebook versions of this book and the earlier ones. If Cory can make a successful go of this kickstarter, he hopes to convince his publisher that peddling through Amazon/Audible isn’t the only way.

I appreciate this sort of ethical stance for getting digital content to the people and it isn’t tied to surveillance systems and DRM locks that hinder and exploit the buyer.

Needless to say, I’m in. I love audiobooks, especially ethically sold ones.

If you want to purchase any of Cory’s other works, he also sells his material direct DRM-free from his website, Craphound.