EP291: Shannon’s Law


Shannon’s Law

By Cory Doctorow

When the Way to Bordertown closed, I was only four years old, and I was more interested in peeling the skin off my Tickle Me Elmo to expose the robot lurking inside his furry pelt than I was in networking or even plumbing the unknowable mysteries of Elfland. But a lot can change in thirteen years.

When the Way opened again, the day I turned seventeen, I didn’t hesitate. I packed everything I could carry—every scratched phone, every half-assembled laptop, every stick of memory, and every Game Boy I could fit in a duffel bag. I hit the bank with my passport and my ATM card and demanded that they turn over my savings to me, without calling my parents or any other ridiculous delay. They didn’t like it, but “It’s my money, now hand it over” is like a spell for bending bankers to your will.

Land rushes. Know about ’em? There’s some piece of land that was off-limits, and the government announces that it’s going to open it up—all you need to do is rush over to it when the cannon goes off, and whatever you can stake out is yours. Used to be that land rushes came along any time the United States decided to break a promise to some Indians and take away their land, and a hundred thousand white men would wait at the starting line to stampede into the “empty lands” and take it over. But more recently, the land rushes have been virtual: The Internet opens up, and whoever gets there first gets to grab all the good stuff. The land rushers in the early days of the Net had the dumbest ideas: online pet food, virtual-reality helmets, Internet-enabled candy delivery services. But they got some major money while the rush was on, before Joe Investor figured out how to tell a good idea from a redonkulous one.

About the Author

Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow (craphound.com) is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing (boingboing.net) and the author of WALKAWAY, a novel for adults, a YA graphic novel called IN REAL LIFE, the nonfiction business book INFORMATION DOESN’T WANT TO BE FREE, and young adult novels like HOMELAND, PIRATE CINEMA and LITTLE BROTHER and novels for adults like RAPTURE OF THE NERDS and MAKERS. He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate, is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University, a Visiting Professor of Practice at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles.

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About the Narrator

Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty is the co-editor and co-host of Escape Pod.

She is an American podcaster and writer based in Durham, North Carolina. She is the host and creator of the podcasts I Should Be Writing and Ditch Diggers. In the past decade she has been: co-founder/co-editor of Pseudopod, founder of Mothership Zeta, editor or co-editor of Escape Pod (where she is currently).

She is fond of Escape Artists, in other words.

Mur is the 2013 winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

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