Cory Doctorow at the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, August 2005
|Born:||July 17, 1971 (age 35)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Genre(s):||Science fiction, Cyberpunk|
Cory Doctorow (born July 17, 1971) is a blogger, journalist and science fiction author in favor of liberalizing copyright laws, and a proponent of Creative Commons. Some common themes of his work include digital rights management, filesharing, Disney, and post-scarcity economics. He is best known as a co-editor of the blog Boing Boing.
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to Trotskyist teachers, Doctorow was raised in an activist household, working in the nuclear disarmament movement and as a Greenpeace campaigner as a child. He later served on the board of directors for the Grindstone Island Co-operative on Big Rideau Lake, Ontario, helping to run a conference center devoted to peace and social justice education and activist training. He received his high school diploma from a free school in Toronto called SEED School, and dropped out of four universities without attaining a degree.
Doctorow moved to L.A. in mid-2006 from London, England, where he worked as European Affairs Coordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation for four years, helping to set up the Open Rights Group, before quitting to pursue writing full-time in January 2006. (Upon his departure, Doctorow was named a Fellow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is now teaching at U.S.C.) He is a frequent public speaker on copyright issues, and two of his speeches have been released into the public domain and widely disseminated: Ebooks: Neither E Nor Books and a 2004 address on Digital Rights Management to Microsoft's Research group.
Doctorow's first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, is a utopian novel set in a future Walt Disney World where scarcity has been abolished and economic transactions are mediated through a reputation system similar to Slashdot's "Karma", measured in units called Whuffie. It was published in January 2003, and was the first novel released under a Creative Commons license. The license allowed readers to freely circulate the electronic edition, and that electronic edition was released simultaneously with the print edition. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was re-licensed under an expanded Creative Commons license in March 2003, to allow non-commercial derivative works such as fan fiction. Doctorow has argued that this commercial success has been due, at least in part, to the free licensing terms which build an audience for the books. A semi-sequel short story called Truncat was published on Salon.com in August 2003.
Doctorow's first short story collection, A Place So Foreign and Eight More was published in September 2003 by Four Walls Eight Windows press (now Avalon Books). It collected nine of Doctorow's short stories, and an introduction by Bruce Sterling. Six of these stories were also released electronically under a Creative Commons license. The stories in this volume are Craphound, A Place So Foreign, All Day Sucker, To Market, To Market: The Rebranding of Billy Bailey, Return to Pleasure Island, Shadow of the Mothaship, Home Again, Home Again, The Super Man and the Bugout, and 0wnz0red.
Doctorow's second novel, Eastern Standard Tribe, was released in March 2004 in hardcover and in paperback in spring 2005. It concerns "tribes" of management consultants whose common bond is their sleep schedule. It revolves around a "traffic Napster" for car-to-car file sharing, something that has subsequently been experimented with as an actual technology. As with Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Eastern Standard Tribe was released in a freely distributable electronic edition licensed under Creative Commons terms simultaneous with its print release.
Doctorow's third novel, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, was published in June 2005; Doctorow repeated the procedure of releasing a free electronic edition simultaneous with the hardcover print edition. This time, the book was released in a Creative Commons license that allows the commercial use of its contents in developing countries. The book is a contemporary fantasy novel about urban wireless mesh network guerrillas and a race of people who have impossible, fantastic powers and anatomy (a winged woman, an animated corpse, a trio of walking, talking Russian nesting dolls). It is set in Northern Ontario and in Toronto's Kensington Market area.
In 2006, Doctorow was named the 2006-2007 Canadian Fulbright Chair in Public Diplomacy at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, jointly sponsored by the Royal Fulbright Commission, the Integrated Media Systems Center, and the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. The academic Chair included a one year writing and teaching residency at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Doctorow's nonfiction works include his first book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction (co-written with Karl Schroeder and published in 2000), and his contributions to Boing Boing, the weblog he co-edits, as well as regular columns in Popular Science and Make magazines. He is a Contributing Writer to Wired magazine, and contributes occasionally to other magazines and newspapers such as the New York Times Sunday Magazine, the Globe and Mail, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, and the Boston Globe. In 2004, he wrote an essay on Wikipedia included in The Anthology at the End of the Universe comparing Internet attempts at Hitchhiker's Guide-type resources including discussing his own article on Wikipedia. In the same year, he delivered a talk to Microsoft's Research Group related to copyright, technology, and DRM.
He won the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer in 2000, the Locus Award for Best First Novel for Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom in 2003, and in 2004 he won the Sunburst award for best Canadian Science Fiction Book for his short story collection, A Place So Foreign and Eight More. This collection also contained his short story 0wnz0red, which was nominated for the 2003 Nebula Award. Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town has also been shortlisted for the 2006 Sunburst prize.
He served as Canadian Regional Director of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 1999. In June 1999 he co-founded the free software P2P software company Opencola with John Henson and Grad Conn. The company was sold to the Open Text Corporation in the summer of 2003.
Together with Austrian art group monochrom he initiated the Instant Blitz Copy Fight project. People from all over the world are asked to take flash pictures of copyright warnings in movie theaters.
Cory's parents have suggested that he is related to author E.L. Doctorow, but E.L. Doctorow himself could not confirm (or deny) the family connection.