Cory's Berlin talk: "It's not a fax machine connected to a waffle iron"

Here's the video of "It's not a fax machine connected to a waffle iron," the talk I gave at the Re:publica conference in Berlin this week: "Lawmakers treat the Internet like it's Telephone 2.0, the Second Coming of Video on Demand, or the World's Number One Porn Distribution Service, but it's really the nervous system of the 21st Century. Unless we stop the trend toward depraved indifference in Internet law, making – and freedom – will die."

re:publica 2013 - Cory Doctorow: It's not a fax machine connected to a waffle iron


  1. …and in the meantime you have 60 days to get your copper out of our dirt!
    That was worth the whole hour alone. If only…
    But there is a problem, and this is the question I would ask:

    Those service providers take a fraction of the profits they make selling us overpriced, inconsistent, buggy, traitorous bandwidth, and turn around to operate powerful lobbies that, though a bargain for the providers, can afford more lawyers, more lobbyists, more bribes and more full-time shills than net-neutrality advocates can possibly field. And as long as the wider public ignores that threat to free speech, free association and free thought, lawmakers will continue to listen to the money, because the money gets them re-elected, and professional politicians are not known for choosing principle over re-election. So the question is: how do we get the the man and woman on the street to care, and to understand what is at stake?

    I’d also like to offer a third perspective on the first gentleman’s question. Perhaps there are some technologies that it’s simply better to continue to make “dumb” without integrated computers to hack. However, on the flip side, if you can’t have bulletproof security, and you need reliable systems that at least fail well when they inevitably fail, redundancy and independent interlocking verification are two of the best tools I’ve found for giving security depth. This is coming from someone who spent the better part of the last decade designing and selling data analysis tools. I’m no longer in that industry – I’m back in school now – but I literally watched the IT world wake up to the realities of information security. They’re still learning, but most of the players now know they have something to learn, that a password, or even an air gap, is no sinecure.

    1.  Not if humanity continues its transition apace of information dissemination from oral -> print -> electronic.  The internet will eventually become the essential mode by which information is transmitted and shared.  If the independence of the internet is compromised by authorities looking to control, well then yes, there would be no freedom.  Can societies have freedom when authorities regulate speech, or print to in order assert control over  its population?  Inevitably the internet will become as vital as the two former methods of communication.  It’s restriction will be as destructive to freedom as when regimes strictly regulate speech or print. 

  2. I’m up to minute 20 and want to pause and say:
    Cory, you are hitting it out of the ballpark!  Absolutely brilliant.
    “The urinary tract infection model of business”, XD!

    1. From funny to grim to passionate, well done.  Then this gem:
      “A long rambling statement followed by a question is technically a question but not a good one” – thank you for saying that.

  3.  Hmm…when he spoke at Defcon last time, the room was packed. Are you, perhaps, comparing book tour crowds with convention crowds (aka Apples and Oranges)?

  4. I’m pretty sure all of these ideas for a future involving open computing hinge on a well functioning democracy with officials willing to act for the good of the people at large. Personally I’m going to place my bets on there being a series of laws that I and others will continue to scoff at with relative impunity.

  5. Hey Cory, sorry you didn’t get the laugh for “Stop anthromorphizing me”. That line deserved it!

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