Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Down and Out in Amazon's Digital Commons

I recently came across a political economy type tidbit that you may find interesting.

Jeff Bezos recently told the world about his favourite books on NPR. Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon.com and is partly responsible for the land rush to fence the digital commons. More recently, he has come under fire for Amazon's aggressive support of intellectual property protection and patent picketing.

His most recent sci-fi pick came as a bit of a suprise: Down and Out in the Tragic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow. In a strange twist, Doctorow is on the executive of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). More oddly perhaps, Down and Out in the Tragic Kingdom was released under the Creative Commons License and is freely downloadable while simultaneously being an Amazon.com best seller. The final irony lies in the actual story. Doctorow has created a story where an individual's personal reputation (a la Mauss and the gift economy) determines their resource consumption. Odd...

Down and Out in the Magic Kindom

NPR Announcement

NPR Sound Sample


PS- as a final interesting note, notice how Doctorow thanks people who have formatted his book into various formats such as the iSolo palm reader format. He provides links back to their websites. Since the download site is very popular and highly moderated by google, the links to the sites of the contributors likewise become highly moderated. The gift economy in action... powered by google.

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