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Cory Doctorow On For the Win, Gold Farming, and DRM

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  • by slackarse (875650) * on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @11:17PM (#32505944) Journal
    "For Teh Win."

    There, fixed that for you.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @11:38PM (#32506092)
      I just read the article:

      Jessica Griggs takes a trip to the complex frontier world of...

      MMmmmmm, so we meet the interviewer, Jessica.

      I don't know who she is or what she looks like, but I'm already in love with her. I imagine her in a pantsuit, projecting raw power and subtle dominance behind a disarming pair of horn-rimmed glasses. She walks out of her cubicle with a sexy but straightforward strut as she delivers her "goods" to the copy editor.

      She is tactile enough to record interviews with her sexy youthful hands, free of protruding veins and tendons, writing pen-on-notepad at blinding speed like a 50's-era law student notating a Spanish lecture.

      I invision her wearing a corset at times, hidden under her conservative white-linen blouse, as she carries on secret trysts with the various blue-collar building porters and custodians. She's off-limits to us nerds because nerd-dom is thirsty work for her...and so thirsty work warrants thirsty play, as she fellates an unbathed, illiterate-but-muscular laborer named Pedro in the utility closet.

      ...

      I'm back, guys. After extensive Google searches, I paid 50 bucks for her current address and a background check. Spotless. Radiant. And she lives at 32 Garrison Street Suite# 56 in Boston's beautiful Back Bay. Mmmmm, back bay. I'm texting this as I look over the brick fence into her window. She just came back from a hard day in the office. Man, look at her without that coat, tossing her silky hair back with a single nod as she puts it into a ponytail. I would love to kiss those tired feet of hers, with their perfect red polish and the aroma of a fine Camembert...I bet her panties would also smell mustily divine right now...*Pant, Pant*...nobody smells perfect after that long a day at work...*pant*...(By the way, I'm texting this from my Blackberry). Oh, shit...she's spotted me...hold on...She just picked up her phone and pulled her blinds down.

      Oh, crap, the security guard is coming...hold on....

      fkla;s jdhadkuvhakdfn
      aksldflsnd

      • And by posting that piece of work anonymously, you just missed out on hundreds of geeks that would have otherwise "friended" you and become your legion of slashdot fans.

        • "And by posting that piece of work anonymously, you just missed out on hundreds of geeks that would have otherwise "friended" you and become your legion of slashdot fans."

          I think that was the point.

          We already know what HIS idea of being "friended" is.
           

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by epp_b (944299)
        Where's the mod option for "creepy stalker"?
    • stfu nub LOL *Throws a Mohawk grenade at you, puts down a train set, and spams the chicken emote*
  • by mogness (1697042) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @11:20PM (#32505980) Homepage
    Awesome quote from this guy in the article, on DRM and his work. Makes you think about who is really gaining from this whole DRM and copy protection gambit.
    Hint: it's not the artist.

    Obscurity, not piracy, is the biggest problem writers face. In the 21st century, if you are not making art with the intention of it being copied, you are not making contemporary art.

    • by decipher_saint (72686) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @12:19AM (#32506328) Homepage

      Yeah, but after the obscurity, THEN artists get interested in DRM.

    • by brit74 (831798) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @01:50AM (#32506766)

      "Obscurity, not piracy, is the biggest problem writers face. In the 21st century, if you are not making art with the intention of it being copied, you are not making contemporary art."

      Interesting fact: Cory Doctorow rips his ideas from other people. The original quote was from Tim O'Reilly. If you watch the internet closely, you'll see him copy other people's quotes and ideas all the time without giving them credit. A few months ago, I saw him regurgitate one author's comment that piracy is like masterbation. Of course, Cory never gives them credit - he's too busy wanting people to believe "his great ideas" aren't directly cribbed from other people. No wonder Cory is such a big fan of piracy - that's how he gets famous - by taking other people's ideas and regurgitating them as if they were his own.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by javilon (99157)

        that's how he gets famous - by taking other people's ideas and regurgitating them as if they were his own.

        Like everybody else. Writers are not philosophers or physicists. They are not supposed to come up with new ideas, but to express the old ideas in interesting ways.

        • by radtea (464814) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:50AM (#32509008)

          Writers are not philosophers or physicists

          As a physicist and philospher who is currently developing his writing career, I don't agree with this. It's true that some writers are just what you describe. They aren't artists, they aren't original thinkers. They are what used to be known as "hacks".

          Writers, however, are expected to come up with their own ideas, and in the case in point, with their own words--at least some of the time. While it's true that "mediocrity borrows, genius steals", it takes more than theft to make a genius: it takes intelligent transmutation of the stolen material into an original and interesting form. Insofar as a writer does that, they are not a hack, but that is a requirement, not just "expressing old ideas in interesting ways."

          And the best writers, of course, express new ideas in interesting ways. Melville wasn't just regurgitating facts about whales (although he was doing that too...)

      • by TheLink (130905)
        Lots of people who share their ideas publicly actually want them adopted.

        So to them it's perfectly fine for someone else to help spread them around. Now if someone dishonestly/negligently claims he/she is the original source when that's not true then it's plagiarism.

        Most pirates don't plagiarize when they copy stuff- they don't claim they are the original authors of the work.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by selven (1556643)

        And how often do you casually repeat insightful/witty statements made by other people in conversation without bothering to give a citation? Everyone does it, sometimes without even realizing it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MichaelSmith (789609)

        Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief. All kill their inspiration and sing about their grief

        U2, The Fly [songmeanings.net]

      • Interesting fact: Cory Doctorow rips his ideas from other people. The original quote was from Tim O'Reilly. If you watch the internet closely, you'll see him copy other people's quotes and ideas all the time without giving them credit

        I was going to halp propagate your anti-Cory meme, but I've already forgotten who you are, and therefore I find myself ethicially unable to propagate your ideas.

        Sorry about that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dracker (1323355)
        I think it's natural for someone who hates DRM as much as Cory Doctorow not to give credit for quotes. After all, credit for quotes are is another form of Intellectual Property.
        • by radtea (464814) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:54AM (#32509046)

          I think it's natural for someone who hates DRM as much as Cory Doctorow not to give credit for quotes.

          I think it's weird that you can't distinguish between broken tech like DRM and a perfectly legitimate desire for an artist to be recognized and compenstated for their work. The latter is expressed by a variety of intellectual property law, which Doctorow is not absolutely against.

          • by mattack2 (1165421)

            Yet DRM itself is trying to force "a perfectly legitimate desire for an artist [and publisher] to be recognized and compenstated [sic] for their work".

            Do I like DRM? No, I think I agree with you that it's "broken tech". But I also think that the reason behind it is the same "perfectly legitimate desire". As has been stated many times before (ironically I can't cite one), if there weren't thieves, we wouldn't need locks on our doors.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Blue Stone (582566)

        I'm sure you've heard the quote often attributed to the artist Pablo Picaaso, that "good artists borrow, great artists steal."?

        The fact is that any artist is a giant milling machine - in goes ideas and concepts and styles and techniques and disparate things (like banana cereal and dogs peeing against trees) and they all churn and ferment and process and grind and beak down and clump together and then ... ping ... up pops an idea, which because the milling machine is an artist of some description, needs to g

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by c0d3g33k (102699)

        To provide another perspective:

        What you describe as "ripping off" could be better viewed as exposing oneself to ideas that are actually relevant to people by, you know, interacting with them. Discard the bad or irrelevant ideas, keep the good ones and share them with others to make sure they continue to propagate. Combine some in the form of 'mash ups' to create something kind of new. And in addition, possibly process the ideas gathered from such activity such that something completely new and unique com

      • by capedgirardeau (531367) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:08AM (#32509860)

        He credits Tim just fine on his website:

        http://craphound.com/overclocked/2007/01/08/about-this-sitefaq/ [craphound.com]

        So this time he didn't spell it out, but it's not like he is claiming this idea is "his"

        I think he just agrees and feels it is basically a fact in the culture today.

        Tim first wrote that idea, that I am aware of, back in 2002 so after 8 years or so, I think it might be fair to say that it has become fact or reality to many of us.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by _Sprocket_ (42527)

          I also heard him give credit during some radio interview. I'd imagine after giving numerous interviews to promote a book, one would slip up on some details here and there while covering the same ground so many times.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sootman (158191)

        He may not credit Tim (or the masturbation guy) every single time he utters those words but he has indeed credited him: [craphound.com]

        For me -- for pretty much every writer -- the big problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity (thanks to Tim O'Reilly for this great aphorism).

        But hey, don't let facts get in the way of slagging Cory. Do you realize how long it would take for Cory, or anyone, to talk if they had to cite the origin of every single thought they're expressing?

        • by BobMcD (601576)

          But hey, don't let facts get in the way of slagging Cory. Do you realize how long it would take for Cory, or anyone, to talk if they had to cite the origin of every single thought they're expressing?

          Off-topic, but using his name twice in a row like that, along the same thought line, shows you either know him personally or are a fanboy of some sort. There's an emotional attachment to a construction like that, and out here on the internet it seems inappropriate.

          Not that we disagree. Slagging, would take a long time, all check. Just maybe without the name-dropping.

          • by sootman (158191)

            Or maybe I just wrote in kind of a hurry, moved things back and forth, and didn't get around to changing one instance of his name to a pronoun since this is just a forum and not a dissertation. Mainly, I was just replying because the comment was +5 and Slashdot doesn't have a "-1, factually incorrect" mod. In other words, duty called. [xkcd.com] :-)

            For the record: I loved Little Brother, couldn't even finish Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, thought Makers was pretty good, and thought Overclocked had some good bits b

      • by Joe Snipe (224958)

        Did you even read the quote? It is exactly what your "interesting fact" describes.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      That's almost word for word from Little Brother IIRC. Which, BTW, I thought was an excellent book.

  • BoingBoing (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alejandros (1626215) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @11:35PM (#32506068)
    For those who don't know, Cory Doctorow also co-edits BoingBoing [boingboing.net], a popular tech/culture group blog that's worth checking out.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Hadlock (143607)

      Belay that order; Cory Doctorow is the John Katz of the Internet 2.0. Avoid at all costs.
       
      Most of the other posts in this thread will agree with me. Lots of "anonymous cowards" who seem to disagree with the regular posters on slashdot who seem to dislike Doctorow's shameless self promotion. Hmm...

      • hey weirdbeird, who the f$ck is JohnKatz ? !!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by _Sprocket_ (42527)

        Belay that order; Cory Doctorow is the John Katz of the Internet 2.0. Avoid at all costs.

        To each their own. I disagree. Doctorow's stuff is worth a read. However, I don't think he's an amazing author. A lot of his stuff leaves me with the impression of being a little under-done; a little raw, in need of a bit more baking to be done. But he writes some cool stuff based on some interesting ideas. And he gives it away free if you're not inclined to buy it.

        As for self promotion... well, sure. He's an author. He makes a living writing stuff. You don't sell writing without getting people to

  • Gold Farming History (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tauto (1742564) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @11:46PM (#32506142)
    "When did gold farming start? First reports were in Central America and Mexico in about 2003." I remember gold farming in Asheron's Call in early 2000. Here's a link to a blurb about Sony's problems with EverQuest in April 2000. http://news.cnet.com/2100-1017_3-239052.html [cnet.com]
    • by wmbetts (1306001) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @11:55PM (#32506196)

      Not to mention that, but the reason people hate gold farmers isn't about racism. It has 0 to do with race and everything to do with the fact they get their "lot" by stealing from people.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Dude, I remember gold farming in the Bard's Tale.

      Ok, so it was my little brother, and I paid him in candy...

    • by DeadboltX (751907) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @12:33AM (#32506402)
      I could be wrong, but I think he was referring to organized businesses hiring employees for the purpose of farming gold, and then reselling it, and that was the business model.

      It seems to me that all the early gold selling (AC, EQ) was individuals selling stuff on ebay, and not some sort of organized business.
    • by sponga (739683)

      I remember it in Ultima Online, scripting was pretty easy back than.
      Although not logging into your account for almost a year and coming back to realize everything you had built up was expired and decayed(disappeared). That was the last time I invested so much time into a game and realized the outcome, but than I found out you could dupe items through the black hole bug and made millions on my comeback.

    • "When did gold farming start? First reports were in Central America and Mexico in about 2003." I remember gold farming in Asheron's Call in early 2000. Here's a link to a blurb about Sony's problems with EverQuest in April 2000. http://news.cnet.com/2100-1017_3-239052.html [cnet.com]

      That's OK. Now that you've found it, I'm sure Doctorow will remember it too ;)

  • by King_TJ (85913) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @12:19AM (#32506330) Journal

    I've recently become a big Cory Doctorow fan, reading several of his sci-fi books in electronic format. (I'm reading through "Down and out in the Magic Kingdom" right now on my iPad.)

    This interview just further impressed me with him... Great, insightful comments on both DRM and on "piracy" vs. "publicity"!

    I'll admit that as much as I like science-fiction, I'm not exactly an "avid reader" - so maybe some of Doctorow's work is just a "re-hash" of ideas already used before. But I found lots of very interesting and unique (at least to me) concepts in his writing. I particularly like his premise in "Down and Out..." that the world has solved its energy problems, which led to sort of a new "enlightenment" era of rapid advances in technology - with one of them being the ability to "reboot" a dead person from recent backups of the knowledge in their head that were taken at regular intervals. People measure their age in how many lifetimes + years old they are. Of course, this leads to massive overpopulation, but the masses accept it because they're confident that problem can also be resolved somehow. And in the meantime, many people opt to "deadhead" for X number of hundred years - voluntarily putting themselves in a suspended state, when they feel they've done everything they really want to do and see everything they want to see. This just seems a few steps beyond the material you typically find in science fiction in the movies or on TV, not to mention in other books I've read so far!

    • And in the meantime, many people opt to "deadhead" for X number of hundred years - voluntarily putting themselves in a suspended state, when they feel they've done everything they really want to do and see everything they want to see. This just seems a few steps beyond the material you typically find in science fiction in the movies or on TV, not to mention in other books I've read so far!

      Iain Banks did this in his Culture books, back in the early 1990s. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed it is a rehash, it didn't seem all that original when John Boorman & Sean Connery did a version in movie form (the surreally bad Zardoz) in the '70s. Doctorow's take is admittedly much better--Zardoz set a really low bar. I liked the "adhocracy" concept, and the name was inspired. But overall, a short-story of an idea stretched out to book length, without a stunning plot, memorable characters or inventive energy. YMMV.

      Cory Doctorow is IMHO at best a mediocre science fiction writer. But he ha

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I've been an avid reader for fifty years, most of the fiction I've read has been science fiction, and I've never seen anything like "Down and Out". I read a copy I picked up at the library, then bought a copy at the bookstore for my shelf; I never read a good book only once.

      Record companies are insane; they could have encouraged file sharing and advertised the benefits of tangible products like CDs, but greed got in their way. Now the young folks ask "why do I want a shelf full of books/CDs/etc."

    • by BobMcD (601576)

      I must be in a bad mood, but why name-drop the iPad?

  • by silentcoder (1241496) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @04:34AM (#32507508) Homepage

    A few points of import. The goldfarmers in the novel never steal accounts. They just play the game, and build up large banks of gold to sell. While all WoW players know that a significant part of the banks that the goldsellers sell were acquired through account-theft, these are not the people that FTW is about.

    I don't think you can call playing the game 18 hours a day a crime. The fact that they subsequently sell the gold - well that's only a crime in the concept of breaking a EULA... which is not something I have EVER heard a /. poster speaking AGAINST.

    Furthermore, the world in the book is a bit different, it's set a few years in the future - and the games are no longer MEANT to be a closed economy there. There are official channels of gold trade, where real stockbrokers invest in game gold much as they would invest in any other currency. The goldfarmers in the book use black-markets though because they are excluded from these official channels of trade (which is in fact the game-companies' largest source of income).

    I won't spoil the ending, but suffice to say - this is not a a novel about thieves who live of other people's hard work. It's a novel about hard workers being exploited and demanding a better life. It uses the MMORPG world as a millieu but it's really a book about economics and a scathing attack on the world of sweatshop workers - in all it's forms.
    It includes solid chapters on economic fundamentals, inflation (and how the kind of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe came to be) how it works, and how often it doesn't.

    In short, it's a very, very good book. As SIFI I wouldn't call it groundbreaking, it writes about technology that's every day life NOW. There are some minor practical changes to the games concept in the time of the book but nothing that all gamers aren't expecting now. It's not science fiction, it's a much more a kind of social activism fiction, which happens to use a technological mileu.
    Mind you, I didn't consider Little-Brother to be science fiction either, 99% of the technologies in THAT novel are things that you can download right this second. What it was, was an excellent novel that happens to also teach the fundamentals of crypto, privacy and security systems.

    So in short, I really LIKE Doctorow's niche, he uses his fields of expertise, to set novels with a much wider social message - that's to me what good writing is all about.

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      As SIFI I wouldn't call it groundbreaking

      Don't you mean "SYFY"?

      • SF thanks.

        • Personally, I've always prefered scifi myself, but seriously - we all knew what I meant :P and I didn't even use my OWN favorite term.

    • by radtea (464814)

      It includes solid chapters on economic fundamentals, inflation (and how the kind of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe came to be) how it works, and how often it doesn't.

      I find this frankly implausible. I've never seen any description of economic fundamentals in a fictional context that I'd consider "solid". Novelists are unfortunately, like economists, good at spinning plausible bullshit, but you shouldn't mistake "plausible" for "solid".

      If you want an adequate introduction to some reasonably solid economic thinking for laypeople, try Joseph Heath's "Filthy Lucre: economics for people who hate capitalism." It's not without flaws, but it generally gives a clear analysis

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by silentcoder (1241496)

        Well now, I've read it, you haven't.
        The man did his research, and Doctorow has a good writing style for it. He entirely breaks from the fictional flow for about one in three chapters, and gives a very solid, and accurate description of core parts of economic theory, gradually building up as they will all ultimately impact on the plot. It almost reminds me of the Science-of-Discworld books, where even chapters are story, odd chapters are non-fiction genuine science... well lectures.

        Here it's not quite so muc

    • by illumin8 (148082)

      Having actually READ the novel

      Having actually read the book as well, I agree with most of what you say. I considered it a very entertaining book, and the story about setting up an international union of virtual workers was very inspiring and moving.

      The one thing that really bothered me about the book was that it was unrealistic about how virtual economies work. Doctorow said that investors would buy in-game gold, and wait for it to appreciate, then sell it for a profit. This is contrary to the way every

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      A few points of import. The goldfarmers in the novel never steal accounts. They just play the game, and build up large banks of gold to sell. While all WoW players know that a significant part of the banks that the goldsellers sell were acquired through account-theft, these are not the people that FTW is about.

      I don't think you can call playing the game 18 hours a day a crime. The fact that they subsequently sell the gold - well that's only a crime in the concept of breaking a EULA... which is not something I have EVER heard a /. poster speaking AGAINST.

      I hated gold farmers before their industry started turning to compromising accounts. I don't mind if someone wants to dedicate an inordinate amount of their time to playing the game and amassing in-game wealth; that's playing the game. But buying that wealth with currency outside the game is crossing the line. I like the EULA on this point. Buying gold is cheating. I don't condone cheating. And gold farmers are feeding a market for it.

      Incidentally, Blizzard began to do a good job at shutting down gold

      • You're allowed your opinion of them - heck I don't like them because right now, their a net harm on the games playability for everybody else.
        The reality though - is that quite a lot of them really are in a state of - if I do this my kids eat tonight, if I don't they don't and working for a salary, it's their bosses who make the money.
        You wanna hate those bosses, hey I'm right there with you - I despise sweatshop labor of ALL kinds.. but simple reality is, what really feeds the market is gold BUYERS.
        Now them

  • Cory is a writer. He publishes under a CC type license. He manages to make money.

    He also admits that, like all of use, he pretty much has to copy stuff to work. If it is as small as copy and pasting URL's or bigger still like printing articles and pictures off the web. Research requires copying.

    It's the last few questions so 99% of you won't have read it.

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