Podcast: How Amazon is holding Hachette hostage

Here's a reading (MP3) of my latest Guardian column, How Amazon is holding Hachette hostage, which examines how Hachette's insistence on DRM for their ebooks has taken away all their negotiating leverage with Amazon, resulting in Amazon pulling Hachette's books from its catalog in the course of a dispute over discounting:

Under US law (the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and its global counterparts (such as the EUCD), only the company that put the DRM on a copyrighted work can remove it. Although you can learn how to remove Amazon's DRM with literally a single, three-word search, it is nevertheless illegal to do so, unless you're Amazon. So while it's technical child's play to release a Hachette app that converts your Kindle library to work with Apple's Ibooks or Google's Play Store, such a move is illegal.

It is an own-goal masterstroke. It is precisely because Hachette has been so successful in selling its ebooks through Amazon that it can't afford to walk away from the retailer. By allowing Amazon to put a lock on its products whose key only Amazon possessed, Hachette has allowed Amazon to utterly usurp its relationship with its customers. The law of DRM means that neither the writer who created a book, nor the publisher who invested in it, gets to control its digital destiny: the lion's share of copyright control goes to the ebook retailer whose sole contribution to the book was running it through a formatting script that locked it up with Amazon's DRM.

The more books Hachette sold with Amazon DRM, the more its customers would have to give up to follow it to a competing store.

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Podcast: News from the future for Wired UK

Here's a reading (MP3) of a short story I wrote for the July, 2014 issue of Wired UK in the form of a news dispatch from the year 2024 -- specifically, a parliamentary sketch from a raucous Prime Minister's Question Time where a desperate issue of computer security rears its head:

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American juvenile incarceration: destroying a generation to feed the prison system


Wil Wheaton writes, "Today's Fresh Air (MP3) is just heartbreaking. It's an interview about the juvenile 'justice' system in America with Nell Bernstein, author of Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison, and how prison is just destroying young lives in the name of giving prison workers jobs. No. Seriously. It's infuriating, and it dovetails perfectly with your review of Matt Taibbi's new book."

Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison

'Burning Down The House' Makes The Case Against Juvenile Incarceration (Thanks, Wil!)

Charlie Stross's Snowball's Chance read aloud

Gary writes, "Episode 5 of the podcast Far-Fetched Fables features a great reading by Kenny Park of the short story 'Snowball's Chance' by Charles Stross. Far-Fetched Fables is the recent addition to the District of Wonders podcast network, which includes Tony C. Smith's long-running StarShip Sofa."

Podcast: What does David Cameron's Great Firewall look like?

Here's a reading of a recent Guardian column, What does David Cameron's Great Firewall look like? which debunks the UK government's stupid arguments for its national anti-porn firewall:

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Sweet ukulele tribute to the largest Mersenne Prime

In the end of year episode (MP3) of the BBC's More or Less stats podcast, Tim Harford talks to a variety of interesting people about their "number of the year," with fascinating results.

But the crowning glory of the episode is Helen Arney's magnificent musical tribute to Mersenne 48, the largest Mersenne Prime ever calculated, which came to light in 2013. (Arney herself is going out on tour of the UK, for the delightfully named Full Frontal Nerdity tour)

Christmastime daddy-daughter podcast with Poesy

Every year, there's a day or two between the date that my daughter's school shuts and the day that my wife's office shuts for Christmas holidays. Those are the official seasonal mid-week daddy-daughter days, and for the past two years, my daughter and I have gone to my office to record a podcast. Last year's was great (MP3), but I think we hit a new high this year (MP3).

(Photo: Jonathan Worth)

Talking about the future of libraries with the Circulating Ideas library podcast

I did an interview with the Circulating Ideas library podcast (MP3) at the American Library Association conference this year. We talked about information politics, DRM and libraries, my own history with reading and books, and the future of librarianship.

Podcast of "Metadata – a wartime drama"


In the current installment of my podcast, I read aloud (MP3) a recent Guardian column, "Metadata – a wartime drama, which imagines a dialog between Alan Turing and Winston Churchill that might have taken place if the UK Home Secretary Theresa May had been Turing's line-manager.

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Get Mutated! Pinkwater reads "The Last Guru"

Daniel Pinkwater, the writer who made me the weirdo I am today, has a fantastic podcast wherein he reads his books in (all-too-short) weekly excerpts. This week, he wrapped up a read of Yobgorgle: Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario, and kicked off a read of the remarkable The Last Guru. Now's a great day to start listening, in other words. (MP3) Cory 1

Interview about kids, hacking and democracy with NPR's Here and Now

I recently recorded an interview with NPR's "Here and Now" about surveillance, kids, activism, and my novel Homeland. (MP3) Cory 1