Open Source Sell Out

When I read Morozov’s The Net Delusion a few years ago I was much more enamored with ‘technological solutionism’ than I am now. It sounds like this new work gets at some of the issues that are coalescing for me about all things “open.”

Evgeny Morozov’s new book is To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism. I’ve just bumped it to the top of my non-fiction to-read list.

“What disgusts Morozov about the slide from free software to open source is that a revolutionary idea — radical transparency, radical sharing — became yet another corporate landscape with a little bit of cooperation between companies. Morozov blames O’Reilly’s "meme engineering" for this shift, for popularizing open source at the expense of freedom.

“The real problem, however, is the way this shift to open source has spawned a creepy kind of political futurism devoted to ‘open government.'”

You can read Morozov’s critique of O’Reilly in this long essay from the new issue of The Baffler.

via I've Seen the Worst Memes of My Generation Destroyed by Madness.

Ebert on Books

Sad to hear of Ebert’s passing. While I enjoyed his movie reviews, I always found his non-movie essays more interesting. He was the epitome of the level-headed humanist.

Also, he loved books and had an unabashed enthusiasm for genre works.

“I cannot throw out these books. Some are protected because I have personally turned all their pages and read every word; they’re like little shrines to my past hours. Perhaps half were new when they came to my life, but most are used, and I remember where I found every one. The set of Kipling at the Book Nook on Green Street in Champaign. The scandalous The English Governess in a shady book store on the Left Bank in 1965 (Obilisk Press, $2, today $91). The Shaw plays from Cranford’s on Long Street in Cape Town, where Irving Freeman claimed he had a million books; it may not have been a figure of speech. Like an alcoholic trying to walk past a bar, you should see me trying to walk past a used book store.”

Books do furnish a life - Roger Ebert's Journal

via Books do furnish a life – Roger Ebert's Journal.

Joss Whedon’s Top 10 Writing Tips

It’s reassuring to read these tips from writers. It helps me feel I’m on the right path in my own writing. One of my biggest hurdles right now is Joss’s #3 tip. Need to do some thinking about theme over the next few weeks.

3. HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY

This really should be number one. Even if you’re writing a Die Hard rip-off, have something to say about Die Hard rip-offs. The number of movies that are not about what they purport to be about is staggering. It’s rare, especially in genres, to find a movie with an idea and not just, ‘This’ll lead to many fine set-pieces’. The Island evolves into a car-chase movie, and the moments of joy are when they have clone moments and you say, ‘What does it feel like to be those guys?’

via Joss Whedon’s Top 10 Writing Tips « Aerogramme Writers' Studio.

Stephen King Saturday: Firestarter

(Zoe is a local blogger who is working her way through the works of part-time Florida resident Stephen King. In anticipation of King’s forthcoming sequel to The Shining — Dr. Sleep — I’ve asked Zoe if I could start reprinting her ambitious King re-read here at Reading Tampa. She agreed! Thanks, Zoe. You can read the original posts at From Carrie to the Keyhole, or follow her running blog at Slow and Steady.)

Firestarter_novelFirestarter feels like a blend between many of Stephen King’s previous novels. Kind of like Carrie meets The Dead Zone and combines it with elements of The Stand, with a teeny bit of The Shining thrown in. To wit:

  • We have a girl with telekinetic powers (Carrie)
  • We have a man with weird, undefined psychic abilities (The Dead Zone)
  • The government is evil and will imprison people that they feel are a threat, in direct violation of constitutional freedoms (The Stand)
  • The complexities of parent/child relationships, combined with elements of addiction (The Shining)
  • And there you have it. At one point, I almost wanted to yell at the book, ‘I totally see where this is going, SK!’ Except that I didn’t see where it was going. I was wrong. And maybe that’s what makes these books cool. They are often similar, but they are not the same. He has a good way of taking the story in a direction you are not expecting.

    Although elements of this book are a little too close to parody at times. For instance, there is a mad scientist. He is nicknamed, ‘The Mad Scientist.’ He looks like a mad scientist. Hm. ‘I totally see where this is going, SK!’ And in this case, I did.

    In defense of Firestarter, SK definitely succeeded in creating several very vivid images of the events that occurred. Some of these really stuck with me, perhaps more than in previous novels. It’s amazing to me that I can still remember–years later–images from some of his books and I think, in part, that this is why he has remained such a popular author. In Firestarter, there was the discovery of Vicky’s body, the exploration of the room in which the experiment was held, and the character of John Rainbird. Oh, and I do have to say that the death by garbage disposal did freak me out a bit because I am absent-minded and one of my great fears is that someday I will do something dumb involving my garbage disposal and my hand. Way to draw on those every-day fears, SK!

    I don’t think that I realized when I started this project how directly these early books were tied to events in the US, and particularly a fear of how far the government might go in overreaching its power. In fact, that would seem to be what the past few have been about–even The Long Walk is essentially based on this theme, even if we don’t know the situation that caused that society to emerge. When I was younger and reading SK’s books, I guess I somehow missed these novels and stuck instead to the ones with terrifying vampires and clowns in the sewer (if you’re curious, the book spine of It is still freaking me out, sitting in my bookcase, even though I have rationalized that actually, It is more of a pseudo-monster than a claw emerging from the sewer). So that would make four in a row exactly on this theme. I guess when you churn out novels as quickly as SK did at this time, it would make sense that common elements would be shared between them.

    Fun fact: in the movie version of Firestarter, Heather Locklear played Drew Barrymore’s mother. That seems wrong. I just did the math, and that means that Heather Locklear would have given birth to Drew Barrymore at age 13/14. Hollywood, you are cruel.