/ / Red Team Blues, The Bezzle

I’m about to hit the road again for a series of back-to-back public appearances as I travel with my new, nationally bestselling novel The Bezzle. I’ll be in Los Angeles, Boston, Providence, Chicago, Turin, Marin, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, and Tartu, Estonia!

I hope to see you! Bring friends!

/ / Articles, News, Podcast

A group of child miners, looking grimy and miserable, standing in a blasted gravel wasteland. To their left, standing on a hill, is a club-wielding, mad-eyed, top-hatted debt collector, brandishing a document bearing an Android logo.

Today for my podcast, I read Subprime gadgets, originally published in my Pluralistic blog:

I recorded this on a day when I was home between book-tour stops (I’m out with my new techno crime-thriller, The Bezzle). Catch me on April 11 in Boston with Randall Munroe, on April 12th in Providence, Rhode Island, then onto Chicago, Torino, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and beyond! The canonical link for the schedule is here.

The promise of feudal security: “Surrender control over your digital life so that we, the wise, giant corporation, can ensure that you aren’t tricked into catastrophic blunders that expose you to harm”:

https://locusmag.com/2021/01/cory-doctorow-neofeudalism-and-the-digital-manor/

The tech giant is a feudal warlord whose platform is a fortress; move into the fortress and the warlord will defend you against the bandits roaming the lawless land beyond its walls.

That’s the promise, here’s the failure: What happens when the warlord decides to attack you? If a tech giant decides to do something that harms you, the fortress becomes a prison and the thick walls keep you in.

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/ / News, Red Team Blues, The Bezzle

A pair of black and white photos of me and Robin Sloan, with the cover of my novel 'The Bezzle' between us. It's captioned 'Author: Cory Doctorow, The Bezzle, in conversation with Robin Sloan.'

At long last, the San Francisco stop of the book tour for my new novel The Bezzle has been finalized: I’ll be at the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch on Wednesday, March 13th, in conversation with Robin Sloan!

The event starts at 6PM with Cooper Quintin from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, talking about the real horrors of the prison-tech industry, which I fictionalize in The Bezzle.

Attentive readers will know that this event was finalized very late in the day, and it’s going to need a little help, given the short timeline. Please consider coming – and be sure to tell your Bay Area friends about the gig!

Wednesday, 3/13/2024
6:00 – 7:30
Koret Auditorium
Main Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

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Burning of 'dirt and trash literature' at the 18th Elementary school in Berlin-Pankow (Buchholz), on the evening of International Children's Day, June 1st, 1955. It was the first of a wave of initiatives by the Parents-Teachers Association (Elternversammlungen), to legally ban 'trash and filth.'

Today for my podcast, I read The majority of censorship is self-censorship, originally published in my Pluralistic blog. It’s a breakdown of Ada Palmer’s excellent Reactor essay about the modern and historical context of censorship.

I recorded this on a day when I was home between book-tour stops (I’m out with my new techno crime-thriller, The Bezzle. Catch me tomorrow (Monday) in Seattle with Neal Stephenson at Third Place Books. Then it’s Powell’s in Portland, and then Tuscon. The canonical link for the schedule is here.

States – even very powerful states – that wish to censor lack the resources to accomplish totalizing censorship of the sort depicted in Nineteen Eighty-Four. They can’t go from house to house, searching every nook and cranny for copies of forbidden literature. The only way to kill an idea is to stop people from expressing it in the first place. Convincing people to censor themselves is, “dollar for dollar and man-hour for man-hour, much cheaper and more impactful than anything else a censorious regime can do.”

Ada invokes examples modern and ancient, including from her own area of specialty, the Inquisition and its treatment of Gailileo. The Inquistions didn’t set out to silence Galileo. If that had been its objective, it could have just assassinated him. This was cheap, easy and reliable! Instead, the Inquisition persecuted Galileo, in a very high-profile manner, making him and his ideas far more famous.

But this isn’t some early example of Inquisitorial Streisand Effect. The point of persecuting Galileo was to convince Descartes to self-censor, which he did. He took his manuscript back from the publisher and cut the sections the Inquisition was likely to find offensive. It wasn’t just Descartes: “thousands of other major thinkers of the time wrote differently, spoke differently, chose different projects, and passed different ideas on to the next century because they self-censored after the Galileo trial.”

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A credit card. Its background is a 'code waterfall' effect from the credit-sequences of the Wachowskis' 'Matrix' movies. On the right side is a cliche'd 'hacker in a hoodie' image whose face is replaced by the hostile red eye of HAL9000 from Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey.' Across the top of the card is 'Li'l Federal Credit Union.' The cardholder's name is 'I.M. Sucker.'

Today for my podcast, I read How I Got Scammed, originally published in my Pluralistic blog. It’s a story of how the attacker has to get lucky once, while the defender has to never make a single mistake.

This is my last podcast before I take off for my next book-tour, for my new novel, The Bezzle. I’m ranging far and wide: LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Calgary, Phoenix, Portland, Providence, Boston, New York City, Toronto, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Tucson, Chicago, Buffalo, as well as Torino and Tartu.

My first two stops are Weller Bookworks in Salt Lake City on Feb 21 and Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego on Feb 22, followed by LA (with Adam Conover!), Seattle (with Neal Stephenson!), and Portland. The canonical link for the schedule is here.

I wuz robbed.

More specifically, I was tricked by a phone-phisher pretending to be from my bank, and he convinced me to hand over my credit-card number, then did $8,000+ worth of fraud with it before I figured out what happened. And then he tried to do it again, a week later!

Here’s what happened. Over the Christmas holiday, I traveled to New Orleans. The day we landed, I hit a Chase ATM in the French Quarter for some cash, but the machine declined the transaction. Later in the day, we passed a little credit-union’s ATM and I used that one instead (I bank with a one-branch credit union and generally there’s no fee to use another CU’s ATM).

A couple days later, I got a call from my credit union. It was a weekend, during the holiday, and the guy who called was obviously working for my little CU’s after-hours fraud contractor. I’d dealt with these folks before – they service a ton of little credit unions, and generally the call quality isn’t great and the staff will often make mistakes like mispronouncing my credit union’s name.

That’s what happened here – the guy was on a terrible VOIP line and I had to ask him to readjust his mic before I could even understand him. He mispronounced my bank’s name and then asked if I’d attempted to spend $1,000 at an Apple Store in NYC that day. No, I said, and groaned inwardly. What a pain in the ass. Obviously, I’d had my ATM card skimmed – either at the Chase ATM (maybe that was why the transaction failed), or at the other credit union’s ATM (it had been a very cheap looking system).

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(Image: Cryteria, CC BY 3.0, modified)

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/ / Red Team Blues, The Bezzle

A yellow square featuring the stylized title 'The Bezzle' and the image motif from the book's cover (an Escher-esque triangle whose center is filled with bars that imprison a male figure in a suit; two more male figures run up and down the triangle's edges). Beneath this, a list of cities: 'LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Calgary, Phoenix, Portland, Providence, Boston, New York City, Toronto, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Tucson, Chicago, Amherst, Torino, Tartu.'

My next novel is The Bezzle, a high-tech ice-cold revenge thriller starring Marty Hench, a two-fisted forensic accountant, as he takes on the sleaziest scams of the first two decades of the 2000s, from hamburger-themed Ponzis to the unbelievably sleazy and evil prison-tech industry:

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250865878/thebezzle

I’m taking Marty on the road! I’ll be visiting eighteen cities between now and June, and I hope you’ll come out and say hello, visit a beloved local bookseller, and maybe get a book (or two)!

21 Feb: Weller Bookworks, Salt Lake City, 1830h:
https://www.wellerbookworks.com/event/store-cory-doctorow-feb-21-630-pm

22 Feb: Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, 19h:
https://www.mystgalaxy.com/22224Doctorow

24 Feb: Vroman’s, Pasadena, 17h, with Adam Conover (!!)
https://www.vromansbookstore.com/Cory-Doctorow-discusses-The-Bezzle

26 Feb: Third Place Books, Seattle, 19h, with Neal Stephenson (!!!)
https://www.thirdplacebooks.com/event/cory-doctorow

27 Feb: Powell’s, Portland, 19h:
https://www.powells.com/book/the-bezzle-martin-hench-2-9781250865878/1-2

29 Feb: Changing Hands, Phoenix, 1830h:
https://www.changinghands.com/event/february2024/cory-doctorow

9-10 Mar: Tucson Festival of the Book:
https://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org/?action=display_author&id=15669

13 Mar: San Francisco Public Library (with Robin Sloan):
https://sfpl.org/events/2024/03/13/author-cory-doctrow-bezzle

22 Mar: Wendy Michener Memorial Lecture (Toronto):
https://events.yorku.ca/events/wendy-michener-memorial-lecture2024/

24 Mar: Word Books Brooklyn (with Laura Poitras) (NYC):
https://shop.wordbookstores.com/event/word-presents-cory-doctorow

29-31 Mar: Wondercon Anaheim:
https://www.comic-con.org/wc/

10 Apr: UCLA Institute for Law, Technology and Policy, 1215PM (Los Angeles):
https://pages.e2ma.net/pages/1972582/47480

11 Apr: Harvard Berkman-Klein Center, with Randall Munroe
https://cyber.harvard.edu/events/enshittification

12 Apr: RISD Debates in AI, Providence

17 Apr: Anderson’s Books, Chicago, 19h:
https://www.andersonsbookshop.com/event/cory-doctorow-1

21 Apr: Torino Biennale Tecnologia
https://www.biennaletecnologia.it/evento/come-sfuggire-al-merdocene-e-costruire-un-internet-migliore/

27 Apr: Book Passage Corte Madera, 1PM (Marin County)
https://www.bookpassage.com/event/cory-doctorow-bezzle-martin-hench-novel-corte-madera-store

2 May, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Winnipeg
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/cory-doctorow-tickets-798820071337

3 May, Wordfest, 7PM (Calgary):
https://wordfest.com/2024/event/wordfest-presents-cory-doctorow-2/

4 May, Massy Arts, 6PM (Vancouver)
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/solo-reading-cory-doctorow-the-bezzle-tickets-876989167207

5-11 May: Tartu Prima Vista Literary Festival
https://tartu2024.ee/en/kirjandusfestival/

6-9 Jun: Media Ecology Association keynote, Amherst, NY
https://media-ecology.org/convention

/ / News, Podcast

A photo of me, wearing a suit and a mask, standing with my arms open at a podium at the Canadian embassy in Berlin, giving my McLuhan Lecture.

Last week, I traveled to Berlin to give the annual Marshall McLuhan lecture to open the Transmediale festival. I gave the talk to a full house at the Canadian embassy, and the embassy was kind enough to upload their video of the speech. This podcast is a rip of the audio from that Youtube video. I’ve also posted a transcript of the talk.


Last year, I coined the term ‘enshittification,’ to describe the way that platforms decay. That obscene little word did big numbers, it really hit the zeitgeist. I mean, the American Dialect Society made it their Word of the Year for 2023 (which, I suppose, means that now I’m definitely getting a poop emoji on my tombstone).

So what’s enshittification and why did it catch fire? It’s my theory explaining how the internet was colonized by platforms, and why all those platforms are degrading so quickly and thoroughly, and why it matters – and what we can do about it.

We’re all living through the enshittocene, a great enshittening, in which the services that matter to us, that we rely on, are turning into giant piles of shit.

It’s frustrating. It’s demoralizing. It’s even terrifying.

I think that the enshittification framework goes a long way to explaining it, moving us out of the mysterious realm of the ‘great forces of history,’ and into the material world of specific decisions made by named people – decisions we can reverse and people whose addresses and pitchfork sizes we can learn.

Enshittification names the problem and proposes a solution. It’s not just a way to say ‘things are getting worse’ (though of course, it’s fine with me if you want to use it that way. It’s an English word. We don’t have der Rat für englische Rechtschreibung. English is a free for all. Go nuts, meine Kerle).

But in case you want to use enshittification in a more precise, technical way, let’s examine how enshittification works.

It’s a three stage process: First, platforms are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.


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A popping water-balloon, caught mid-burst. Superimposed over it is the hostile glaring eye of HAL9000 from Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey.'

This week on my podcast, I read my latest Locus Magazine column. “What kind of bubble is AI?” In it, I ask what will be left behind after the AI bubble bursts:

You’ve got one week left to back the Kickstarter for my next novel, The Bezzle, the followup to Red Team Blues. I’m preselling hardcovers, ebooks, and an audiobook read by Wil Wheaton. Please consider backing it and helping support my work (including this podcast!).


But the most important residue after the bubble popped was the mil­lions of young people who’d been lured into dropping out of university in order to take dotcom jobs where they got all-expenses paid crash courses in HTML, Perl, and Python. This army of technologists was unique in that they were drawn from all sorts of backgrounds – art-school dropouts, hu­manities dropouts, dropouts from earth science and bioscience programs and other disciplines that had historically been consumers of technology, not producers of it.

This created a weird and often wonderful dynamic in the Bay Area, a brief respite between the go-go days of Bubble 1.0 and Bubble 2.0, a time when the cost of living plummeted in the Bay Area, as did the cost of office space, as did the cost of servers. People started making technology because it served a need, or because it delighted them, or both. Technologists briefly operated without the goad of VCs’ growth-at-all-costs spurs.

The bubble was terrible. VCs and scammers scooped up billions from pension funds and other institutional investors and wasted it on obviously doomed startups. But after all that “irrational exuberance” burned away, the ashes proved a fertile ground for new growth.

Contrast that bubble with, say, cryptocurrency/NFTs, or the complex financial derivatives that led up to the 2008 financial crisis. These crises left behind very little reusable residue. The expensively retrained physicists whom the finance sector taught to generate wildly defective risk-hedging algorithms were not able to apply that knowledge to create successor algo­rithms that were useful. The fraud of the cryptocurrency bubble was far more pervasive than the fraud in the dotcom bubble, so much so that without the fraud, there’s almost nothing left. A few programmers were trained in Rust, a very secure programming language that is broadly applicable elsewhere. But otherwise, the residue from crypto is a lot of bad digital art and worse Austrian economics.


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/ / Articles, News, Podcast

A galactic-scale Pac-Man is eating a row of 'big blue marble' Earths. The Pac-Man has a copyright circle-c in his center. The starry sky behind the scene is intermingled with a 'code rain' effect from the credits of the Wachowskis' 'Matrix' movies.

This week on my podcast, I read my final Medium column
The internet’s original sin
, about the failure of trying to stretch copyright to cover every problem on the internet.


Copyright is a regulation. It regulates the supply-chain of the entertainment industry. Copyright matters a lot to me, because I’m in the industry.

But unless you’re in the industry, it shouldn’t matter to you.

It’s fine to require a grasp of copyright among people who write, publish and distribute novels — but it’s bananas to require people who read novels to understand copyright.

And yet, here we are.

The test for whether copyright applies to you — for whether you are part of the entertainment industry’s supply chain — is whether you are making or dealing in copies of creative works. This test was once a very good one.

Back when every book had a printing press in its history, every record a record-pressing plant, every film a film-lab, “making or handling copies of creative works” was a pretty good test to determine whether someone was part of the entertainment industry. Even if it turned out they weren’t, the kind of person who has a record-pressing plant can afford to consult an expert to make sure they’re on the right side of the law.

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