I did grow up going to libraries as a kid and so on but for me that most memorable period I spent in a library was in grade 9.
I got sent to a high school that I just really didn't like. It was very structured. I had gone to kind of hippie, groovy alternative schools until then. And I just stopped going. And I started going downtown to the Toronto Metro Reference Library and wandering the shelves, pulling down random books, reading them until I found something that struck my interest, and then going to the subject index and going and pulling down another book... spelunking through the old film and [micro] fiche libraries. Grabbing subject indexes to the 1855 newspaper reels and then reading about, all the things that I could about coal oil production in the nineteenth century in Ontario and so on.
It was it was a really amazing experience. It's the closest thing to just sort of losing yourself on the Web that I experienced before the Web came along.
Mostly I use my library with my daughter. We live in East London, in Hackney, and my daughter and I, on Saturdays, go down to our local branch and we check out books and DVDs and we go through the subject indexes, which is still an area that I find incredibly fascinating , to browse subject indexes. And she loves it. It's a good daddy- daughter afternoon.
I think that... I used to say if you want to make a student film, and you wanted, to like shortcut someone who was completely reprehensible, you could show someone attacking a library. And if you wanted to shortcut the fall of civilization,you would show a library on fire... ...right...because. I think our relationship with books and with the people who keep books and the people who guard books and knowledge... it's kind of like our relationship with dogs, you know, in the sense that on its face, eating a dog is not that much different from eating a chicken. But eating a dog, we kind of understand atavistically like not a good idea, and in the same sense there are lots of books that are pretty unworthy and in that sense, you know, a book on the fireplace is no different than a newspaper on the fireplace, but burning a book, to me, has that same atavistic... ...repulsion that I get from the thought of eating a dog.
And so, for me, the idea that there are people out there with a straight face who are saying, "We need to cut libraries. We need fewer libraries. Our libraries should have shorter hours. They should have fewer people in them... kind of engaged in the business of helping people navigate information and authority is... it's like discovering that there's like a swath of our society who's like "Aw, screw the dog, let's eat."
The answer to bad speech is more speech, not because bad speech isn't harmful. Bad speech is fantastically harmful. At its worst, right... my father, as an infant, was in a building that was burned down in Poland..with... in his mother's arms, they waited out the fire and escaped it during a pogrom that was brought about through bad speech.
Bad speech leads to bad acts, but our best check against bad speech isn't censorship. Our best check against bad speech is more speech, because censorship is an ineffective remedy against bad speech, because it only impacts that bad speech that the establishment doesn't care to hear. And bad speech that the establishment is okay with thrives in censorship regimes. And the rubric of bad speech becomes a way to silence and suppress dissent that would rebalance power in society.
I've got a novella I'm writing about hackers who put a 3D printer on the moon and let it spend a generation printing out habitats for their descendants while they reprogram it by Wiki and ham radios they bounce off the surface the moon.
I've got a novel I'm writing that's a prequel to my first book, "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom."
I'm funding a software project to develop a "name your price" e-book sales platform for authors who have deals with traditional publishers, see you can effectively be a retail outlet for your own books and then remit to your publishers, no matter where your publishers are in the world. It will figure out...oh well, you've got "open territory" in Germany, you've got HarperCollins the UK, you've got MacMillan in the US. You can take anyone's money, no matter where they are in the world. And it will account for it and say, "you give this many dollars to this one and this many dollars to that one.
I call it "Shut Up and Take My Money," because you know these days, there are so many people around the world that just want to buy our stuff and give us money. And, like there's a problem, you know, with people who don't want to pay for stuff and take it, but before we go and try to solve that problem, why don't we try and solve the problem of taking money from all the people who are trying to give it to us, and who... we're saying no, no, no, you want to pay the wrong way, your using the wrong currency, you're in the wrong country, whatever, and just figure out how to shut up and take all the money that people want to give us. so I'm funding that. I'll be rolling out in the fourth quarter, I hope. And I'm also curating the next Humble E-book Bundle, which is a sort of "pay what you like," DRM-free book bundle. We did the first one earlier last autumn, actually, and made 1.25 million dollars for the authors of six books...in two weeks. So we're going do it again, and bigger.
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