Canadian writer, journalist and blogger Cory Doctorow convened an evening of performances and readings on the subject of digital memory.
An activist for the liberalisation of copyright laws in the digital media and an opponent of digital rights management, Doctorow explored digital storage, future systems of copyright and the ways in which the digital realm is altering human memory.
Over the past 20 years, as the internet has become an increasingly vital tool in our daily lives – a place to store, share and distribute everything from personal data to personal memories; from the fruits of creative labour to work spreadsheets; from software programmes to television programmes – the policies that regulate it have been dominated by the war on copyright.
Our personal lives are intimately connected to technology, whether through the tangible touching of an iPhone or the abstract intertwining of memories and Facebook images. Consequently, the difference between public and private is increasingly difficult to understand. Within this complex web of networked technologies, is there a way for systems to effectively protect us, or are all regulations intended to safeguard fated to become intrusive surveillance?
In The Coming War on General Computation, Doctorow argued that in the current century the war of regulation will shift from the online to the general purpose computers that surround us – be they laptops, cars or hearing aids – and at stake will be the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race.
Doctorow (craphound.com) is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger – the co-editor of Boing Boing (boingboing.net) and the author of Tor Teen/HarperCollins UK novels such as For the Win and the bestselling Little Brother. He is the former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in London.