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30 October 2011

Making Things

"Makers", by Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow may be most renowned for the way he got his books into people's hands: Not by convincing a big publisher to move him into the market, but by giving his books away for free, for anyone to grab from the Internet. In the process he has sold some real, paper, paying books as well. In the past I had read some of his stuff, on the laptop. Some I liked some I didn't. When I got my ebook reader, I went and grabbed a bunch more of his stuff. One stuck out so much, I started to recommending it to friends: Makers.

This is a good read, more than 400 pages long. There are a few sympathetic protagonists, real people in my world. There is a plot that moves on, not in a single arch, but in a twisty maze that goes and re-invents itself a couple of times. Most of all though, there is a message: That it might become possible for people to again make things. Well, we software people actually do get to make things and there are even some real-world people out there who still make things, but most people just go to jobs.

Even we software people make illusionary things, virtual stuff, or as I used to say many years ago, we move pixels on the screen. Doctorow's "Makers" is about people reinventing the cottage industry, the "build it here" world, where ideas meet production, meet people and their needs. There is a great thing where our protagonists learn that these businesses have to start over, reinvent themselves every half-year or so. The plot of the book basically reflects that, going further than just that one step into the future. There's also a hint at a bunch of interlocking small companies, working together on various projects, connected or not - something I've been looking at and working with lately. It's not the main theme and it's overshadowed by a fragrance of big corporation, but no matter.

This is no children's book, there are no easy solutions, not everything would work out just like that. There is a big portion of wishful thinking there, but things are complex enough to resemble a real world, no easy happy ends. Most of all I find it inspiring, and I find it deeply to be recommended.

Go grab it and read it, for free on whatever device fits or on paper from your book shop.


Posted by betabug at 18:58 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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