Little Brother and edupunk

I’ve been reading Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother with great pleasure and not a few heretical thoughts in the realm of DISRUPTION (continuing thoughts included in Making room for disruptive and emergent technologies, an article I wrote more than FIVE years ago for NITLE News, and still stand by [bits of linkrot here and there, alas]). The book provides a quick bootstrap in re: an array of present-day technologies (RFIDs, encryption, quite a few others) that some of us may be a bit hazy about details and implications of, and offers a clearer explanation of the paradox of false positives than you’re likely to find outside of a statistics text. Here’s a 3-minute snippet from an interview on Viking Youth Power Hour in mid-May 2008 –the whole 53 minutes is pretty interesting.

You can download LittleBrother for FREE, or BUY it. Lotsa people have done one or both of those things, for good reason. Note some of the comments on Little Brother:

I think I just read one of the most important books that I’ve ever read. It was good, too, but that is far outweighed by what I suspect will be the importance of the book to history. Uh, yeah, that sounds a bit dramatic, but bear with me for a little while… (Worlds & Time)

I’d recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I’ve read this year, and I’d want to get it into the hands of as many smart 13 year olds, male and female, as I can. Because I think it’ll change lives. Because some kids, maybe just a few, won’t be the same after they’ve read it. Maybe they’ll change politically, maybe technologically. Maybe it’ll just be the first book they loved or that spoke to their inner geek. Maybe they’ll want to argue about it and disagree with it. Maybe they’ll want to open their computer and see what’s in there. I don’t know. It made me want to be 13 again right now and reading it for the first time, and then go out and make the world better or stranger or odder. It’s a wonderful, important book, in a way that renders its flaws pretty much meaningless. (Neil Gaiman)

Doctorow shows students what we all know. Educational institutions present themselves as distributors of knowledge and information when it would be more accurate to understand them as guardians of knowledge and information. There’s a perpetual arms race between those who attempt to lock down networks in institutions and those who devise means to unlock them. Schools forbid cell phones, teachers keep computers turned off, professors tell students NOT to bring laptops to class: they don’t do these things b/c they hope students will be able to access and communicate knowledge. (Alex Reid)

About halfway into it, I wanted to stop reading it — not because I didn’t like it, but because I wanted to jam it into the hands of the next 14-year-old I saw and say, “you need to read this more than I do.” (John Scalzi)

…and Chris Pirillo (lockergnome) has a YouTube video commentary, including (from 5:00) a reading of Chapter 1.

This shares context-of-the-moment with the flurriment and scufflement of edupunk. If the term means nothing to you, explore the Wikipedia entry on the term [expect it to change rapidly], comments at Assorted Stuff and by Janet Clarey, and D’Arcy Norman’s fine summary which includes this aux armes:

It’s about individuals being able to craft their own tools, to plan their own agendas, and to determine their own destinies. It’s about individuals being able to participate, to collaborate, to contribute, without boundaries or barriers. And it’s not new.

See also the gallimaufry included under edupunk as a tag.

And while you’re at it, factor in Cory’s recent BoingBoing post on demonization of photography in public spaces.