I finished reading Cory Doctorow's latest book, Homeland, today. I read it on my cell phone in the form of a Creative Commons licensed e-book that I downloaded from his website, for free. This post is labeled "A reaction," because I don't know how I would review this book. It's awesome, and you should read it. But the only properly review-y thing I can say about it is that it's a well-written book by someone I pretty much entirely agree with, and who is much better informed than me. I'll be doing the same thing with this book that I did with the last one, Pirate Cinema, adding it to my Charity Debt list to donate to a library when I have money, but that has to wait until I've got sorted out whatever the hell happened to my spreadsheets.
I was planning on waiting to read Homeland, because I was trying to get a good number of books read by all the Clarion authors this year and I've already read loads of Doctorow, but I didn't get in, so I put down the book I was on (Sorry, Robert Crais) and downloaded Homeland.
Well, it was part that I didn't get in. But more than that, I was super curious about what Doctorow had referred to as a "Vote-finding machine," that Aaron Swartz helped him design when he was writing the book. I'm not going to copy the whole section into this post, because I don't want to spoil anyone's anticipation. That said, if you're a public servant, and you have no intention of ever reading Homeland, this bit is still pretty damn important. So here's a legal link to the full text of the novel. Ctrl+F will allow you to search the text for a particular phrase. The exact phrase "Vote-finding machine" only ever shows up once, in the first of the relevant nine paragraphs.
And if you change your mind about reading it, here's a link to a bunch of different formats of free e-book.
Apart from that, this book is packed with awesome new information that I didn't already have. Some of it was made-up stuff, but that stuff has real-world analogues that are pointed out in the afterwords. But the coolest things -- iPredator, Hadoop, Burning Man -- are all very real.
Reading Cory Doctorow books, especially the ones set near the present day, is like taking a class with a really fun teacher. It's a great way to get a slightly-better-than-basic grasp on politics, copyright, privacy and security. And they're all free. (But if you have the money, you should buy one. Or donate one to a library.)