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.