Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Little Brother

Just finished reading Cory Doctorow's new book, Little Brother, about a teenage's boy's fight against an excessive crackdown by the Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist attack in San Francisco. I read a negative review on Amazon which rightly complained about the cookie cutter bad guys and lack of evidence that our hero is such a great hacker, but I still think they sort of missed the point.

As I've been worrying about the world and dread reading the news, I am often given hope by hackers and visionaries who might have looked like the protagonist when they were a few years younger. These are people who hold dear the ideals on which this country was founded--rights to privacy, freedom of press, expression, assembly, religion, and to be treated fairly and equally before the law--and who have the technological power to defend them. I love passing that hope on to my daughter when she asks me, "Why do they do that?" in response to the news of some corrupt government official.

She's actually the intended audience for this "young adult" book, and she really liked it, calling it "very intense". I highly recommend reading it yourself and then sharing it with your kids. We need to have hope.

1 comment:

  1. I too have been worrying about the world, and often wonder what it would take to snap most everyone out of complacency. With what you said of hackers and visionaries who still believe in and defend our rights and freedoms, too often they're judged or portrayed as potentially dangerous outcasts - the "nerds" and near untouchables of our society who should be mocked and shunned, who are to be marginalized rather than listened to.

    What's interesting about this is that it is the marginalized people who have the clearest point of view of the various things that make up our reality, at least according to Sociology 1000. And it makes sense. The poor tend to have a better understanding of their situation than the wealthy; a member of a "visible minority" will definitely have a better understanding of racism and prejudice than a non member, and so on.

    And with that there is hope, believe it or not! With our ever growing dependency on technology and social networking, and our multicultural society and growing concern for the environment and human rights (I mean really, isn’t it amazing that we had a woman and a black man running for the presidential candidacy?! And, here in Canada, big business is planning to go to four ten hour days per work week to save energy for the environment and their bottom lines and to save people time and money) we are all marginalized in some way that is more than subtle. That means we all see the reality of at least something more clearly than before, and we’re more capable than ever to make positive changes. That is my hope!

    Thanks for recommending this book. I’ll check it out and pass it on to my nieces and nephews. And thanks for your great work on the sixth edition of “(X)HTML, and CSS”!


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