Brin has a controversial take on Star Wars. For example, he calls Yoda one of the most evil characters ever. Well, okay, Brin does have something of a point when it comes to Yoda. The Jedi as a whole are pretty much useless, meddling busybodies who are directly or indirectly responsible for the fundamental political problems in the Star Wars universe.
But, of course, Brin has staked his entire nonfiction career on his Platonic ideal of radical transparency allowing perfect knowledge in a state-democracy. Only when this ideal is realized will freedom be protected and capitalism work properly, says Brin.
I have much to say about Brin’s attacks on “dogmatic libertarians,” by which he means followers of Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand who worship property too much, but watch the video first and then continue on below for my commentary.1
It’s been a news-heavy month. Here are a few more tidbits:
Yesterday, Tor/Forge announced that it will make all of its ebooks completely free of DRM by early July 2012. This is a momentous and welcome change. Tor/Forge is a genre imprint of Macmillan, one of the Big Six publishers. It’s the first of these publishers to cave to author and cusotmer pressure on DRM. It may have helped that Macmillan is not a publicly traded company. Cory Doctorow believes more Big Six publishers are sure to follow; he’s “had contact with very highly placed execs at two more of the big six publishers.”
Last month, James Cameron promoted private deep-sea exploration. He’s also partnered with Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, and Ross Perot Jr., to back private space company Planetary Resources. Immediate plans are to design and build low-cost robotic spacecraft for survey missions. The firm, founded and chaired by Peter Diamondis (creator of the X-Prize Foundation) and Eric Anderson, hopes to then build on this technology and begin mining Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) within the next ten years. For an extended explanation of how and why Planetary Resources can succeed, read Phil Plait’s post on the Bad Astronomy blog. We live in exciting times for the exploration and exploitation of space.
Publish and Perish – Clueless Publishing CEO’s Enjoy an Intimate Dinner (The Passive Voice) — Did you know 16 states also filed antitrust suits against Apple and the Agency Five (as they are apparently being called)? Hey, those AG’s gotta do something to get re-elected! Look below the excerpts for PG’s advice to CEO’s on how to meet without risking an antitrust lawsuit. Utterly ridiculous the obstacles and waste forced on the market by the state.
Absent stringent government protection or physical boundaries that protect the monopoly, the long-term effects of overly-dominating a market tend to weaken the company or companies involved. If competition is permitted, the bloated and inefficient monopolist can present an easy target for an innovative and flexible competitor.
PG’s conception of monopoly is not rigorous, however, and he overlooks the fact that what made Microsoft an aggressive monopoly is intellectual property, that government grant of monopoly privilege that has no place in a free market.
The Agency Model Sucks (A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing) — J.A. Konrath does the math to demonstrate that authors make less money under the agency model. It’s bad for customers and authors.
The biggest problem facing book publishing (The Domino Project) — Perfect for the publishers, not for anyone else, not even the authors they publish. Otherwise, I tend to like what Seth Godin has to say about publishing.