Between my fall and winter quarters, I finished two great books by Cory Doctorow. I also read Herman Hesse’s Stepphenwolf, but I don’t think I am ready to get into that one at the moment. The two Doctorow novels were Little Brother and Pirate Cinema and I’m a bit surprised at myself for waiting this long.
I was in college when Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson was released and that book inspired me to study the field of network security and cryptography. So much so, I left a rather geeky acknowledgment to Neal Stephenson in my undergraduate thesis. Little Brother would have been equally inspiring had I read it when I was 19. This is an amazing novel. While technically a young adult novel, it deals with critical social issues involving privacy and technology. It’s also filled with references to actual projects and privacy fighting technologies (complete with bibliography!). In the true spirit of the book, it’s available to read for free (and for remixing) via a Creative Commons Licence from the website. The afterward by Bruce Schneier is a nice touch. For the security minded, Bruce has a great blog and according to the “Insider’s TSA Dictionary,” is now a verb.
After that I burned through Pirate Cinema, another great read. Perhaps more appealing to a general audience, this book focuses on copyright issues specifically involved with digital media. Like Little Brother, this book is also available for free on the website. Not surprisingly, it has been recommended for a Prometheus Award by the Libertarian Futurist Society. Little Brother was awarded the honor in 2009 and Ready Player One, another great book which is filled with 80s references, was awarded the prize in 2011. Fittingly, RPO’s audiobook is narrated by Will Wheaton (strong emphasis on the wh).
For those who like to listen to author interviews, there is a good behind-the-scenes interview about Pirate Cinema over here. Also Little Brother‘s sequel, Homeland, is scheduled for release this February. Makers and Rapture of the Nerds (this guy writes a lot) both look fun but for the next ten weeks I’m submerging into two more graduate classes: Data Structures and Algorithms II and Advanced AI, so I’m not sure I’ll get to them anytime soon. I may have to sneak in Homeland though, midterms be damned! So between the classes and AI Winter, which I’m planning on attending, I’m going to be very busy.