Today I heard about Little Brother, a book by Cory DoctorowLittle Brother is just plain cool – even if it didn’t address all kinds of important and serious social issues it’s still about a bunch of kids (though not so far removed from my own age) sticking it to the Man.  And on top of all that, it’s FREE!  And it is free for precisely the same reasons why I release everything on this blog and webcomic under a Creative Commons license.

*Ascends soapbox*

As we’ve seen in so many cases, DRM/restrictive licensing is a BAD IDEA.  Say it with me: DRM is a BAAAAD IDEA.  Yes, artists should make money from the work they create.  Yes, they should get credit for it.  But by trying to restrict fans the record labels, assorted recording industries, and anyone who releases content with restrictive DRM or licenses demonstrate the disconnect between those producing the content and those using it.

Mr. Doctorow points out many excellent reasons why he releases his content with a CC license, and I think that his explanation of the economics of it all is quite compelling.  To put it in my own words, I will benefit more in the long term by achieving a wide distribution of content and greater name recognition than I will by trying to charge for my content and attempting to limit who is allowed to read/view/watch/listen to what I’ve created.  And in the event that I do decide that I need to make money from my creative endeavors, having built a large and dedicated fan base (not that any such thing exists at this time) will make that easier.

And finally, I think that it is difficult for creativity to truly thrive in a culture that restricts its expression and limits participation in the creative process.

*Gets a bigger soapbox*

When you read a book or a poem or a comic or watch a movie or listen to music you don’t just read/watch/listen to it.  The work affects you and your own thought/creative process.  But it doesn’t stop there.  As T.S. Eliot noted in “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” an essay on poetry and the canon, new works do not simply add to an ever-growing list.  Rather, each new work profoundly restructures the canon.  By reading this blog post, everything that you, the reader, have read prior to this point will now be viewed through a lens colored by the ideas presented here (whether or not you agree with them).  So, a new work causes us to change how we look at what came before, even if it is ever so subtly.  My point with this little digression is that the act of consuming some creative work has ripples and eddies that will grow, magnify, wilt, or explode.  By attempting to restrict those ripples and eddies, one deprives the world of some new creation and added richness.

*Steps down from soapbox*

So, licensing aside, Little Brother attacks restrictive government and infringement of liberties.  The idea of Big Brother still haunts us even though 1984 came and went, and Doctorow’s book is a serious look at the harm an Orwellian government can do.  I haven’t read it through just yet, so you’ll have to pardon my vagueness.

Ahem.  I thank you for your time and attention.  I close by recommending most highly that you buy or download Little Brother and give it a whirl.  Perhaps it will change your world.