Books Politics Publishing Recommendations

Fictionalizing life & contextualizing ebook piracy

The problem with having two computers you use regularly is that you end up with loads of tabs open in one browser, things you mean to post links to — and then you (or at least I) switch to the other computer for a week and forget about them. I have an Ubuntu desktop machine and a Macbook Pro; I do most of my dissertation work on the desktop because the screen is bigger, and most of my fiction writing these days on the Macbook, because I’ve been using Scrivener for Killingly. (I love Scrivener, by the way. I usually write in order, but Killingly is challenging that habit a bit, since I keep realizing I need to go back and add a scene, etc. The corkboard/notecard system is perfect for keeping track of what I’m doing.)

Anyway, there were a few things I’d intended to include in my link roundup post this weekend that were lurking on my laptop. The first is this response by David Simon to criticism from the current Baltimore police commissioner about the effect of The Wire on the city. Makes an interesting comparison with this article about Portugal’s decriminalization of drug possession. (As the person who posted the Portugal link on Twitter said, “Portugal is Hamsterdam.”) I don’t buy the argument that the commissioner is making, either — the notion that a fictionalized portrayal of real problems in a city somehow harms the city more than the actual problems do. Or that fictionalizing real life makes the fictionalized version untrustworthy, as if the only thing art were good for was creating documentation.

And speaking of complicated things, I’ve been meaning to link to this post about ebook piracy, by a writer who grew up in Malaysia and has been living in the UK recently. But I’m glad I hadn’t yet, because Karen Healey, who was involved in the original Twitter discussion (? maybe not quite the right word) about pirating ebooks, has also made a sensible and apologetic post owning up to the fact that she hadn’t really considered the points brought up in Zen’s post, or in colorblue’s post, which focuses on (in colorblue’s words) “the underlying hierarchies & inequalities in the both the current concept of IPR and the ways that it is used and enforced.” Seriously, read all of these. For a number of reasons, including the fact that I taught Lessig’s Free Culture a few years ago, I’m not ever likely to go off on Twitter about how kids on BitTorrent are ruining my career — though it’s entirely possible that that would change if I were trying to make a living solely off my writing, or if I were in striking distance of a bestseller list, which I am totally not. But I can’t say I had considered the points made in these posts as fully as I should have either. The conversation authors often have on the internet about intellectual property rights and piracy is lamentably American-centric, but it doesn’t have to be.


  1. Hi! It’s me again, your friendly HBC liaison. I have nothing to say regarding HBC this time, though. Instead, I’m here to talk about Macs!

    I take it, from your comments above, that you like the Mac. I’ve been a PC user my whole computing life (almost two decades now… when did I get so old?) but I’ve been thinking about getting a Mac. I wouldn’t be switching to a Mac, as I’ll still use my Dell desktop and laptop for my primary computing needs (music and gaming, respectively), but I’m looking for something easily portable on which to do my writing.

    I’ve used countless writing programs, and my favorite by far is Scrivener, which is only available for the Mac at the moment. (I am beta-testing the Windows version at the moment, and while it seems promising, I’m an impatient perfectionist. Plus, knowing there’s a “better” version out there will drive me batty.) Another Mac-only program I’d like to use is Aeon Timeline, which does everything any other timeline program does, but it also allows you to create your own calendar systems. For someone who writes traditional fantasy, that’s a big deal!

    Anyway, I’m curious to know how you handled the switch to Mac. Of course, I’m assuming you’ve used something other than a Mac before. I’m also wondering how you think the MacBook Pro would fare against the Air. I myself am leaning towards the Air, but I’m worried I’m letting fancy avant-garde technology cloud my judgement. Have you ever wished your MacBook turned on just a little bit faster or was just a little bit smaller?

    Also, kudos on the paperback release! I hope it brings oodles more fans your way! Perhaps I’ll use it as an excuse to read ALCESTIS again!

  2. Hi Matt! Actually, I’ve always been a Mac person, but my desktop now runs Ubuntu. I know fairly little about Linux, but on the few occasions that it’s needed any attention I have help. Usually it’s totally reliable and stable and updates itself nicely.

    I’d never used a specialized writing program before Scrivener, just wrote in Word and then OpenOffice. I like Scrivener a lot, though I have had a few formatting issues when exporting drafts — hard to tell if that’s an OpenOffice issue instead, though. I’ve never seen Aeon Timeline, but I might have to check it out, since the timeline in Killingly is pretty complicated (or rather, keeping the narrative timeline straight vs. the chronological timeline is complicated).

    I had a first-generation Asus eeePC netbook between my Mac laptops, the Linux version. It was cute but slow and occasionally a little buggy, and even though my hands are pretty small, it’s much nicer to type on a full-size keyboard. I did like having something so tiny and light, so I get the appeal of the air, but I’m pretty happy with my MacBook Pro. The Air doesn’t have USB ports, right, or a dvd drive?

    Thanks for the paperback congratulations! I hope it will encourage people to pick up the book, too.

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