March 3, 2003

Cory Doctorow Interview

On O’Reilly network: An Interview with Cory Doctorow. He talks about his book, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and brushes by on several topics, like power distributions in society…

But I think that in our real world we are plagued with positive returns to scale and power-law distributions. We see this in cash societies, where the rich get richer and have more opportunities to get rich. Certainly that was a characterstic of the technology bubble, where the people who had opportunities to buy in before IPO were the people who didn’t need it, essentially. It’s a characteristic in publishing, where the authors who get the publicity budget are the authors who are already famous. And it’s certainly the case in Google, where being found when you’re searched for increases the probability that someone will make a link to you, which increases the probability that you’ll be found when you’re searched for. That problem, although probably not intractable, is found in both cash and reputation societies. There needs to be some kind of antitrust law or garbage collector that periodically comes along and randomizes Whuffie if you’re going to get anything like a merit-based distribution.

And about Eldred and the Sonny Bono Act…

And what they missed is that this has nothing to do with Mickey Mouse. The problem is that in order to keep Mickey Mouse in Disney’s hands we are keeping everything that was made contemporaneous with Mickey Mouse out of the public’s hands, and in many cases, those works are abandoned, very few copies survive, no one knows who the rights holders are, and before they go into the public domain, if indeed they ever do, all known copies will have vanished forever.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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