Saturday, November 17, 2012

For The Win- Cory Doctorow

My post for today covers a book I've read three times so far.
FTW by Cory Doctorow

I've included the book jacket copy from Corys website:

In the virtual future, you must organize to survive
At any hour of the day or night, millions of people around the globe are engrossed in multiplayer online games, questing and battling to win virtual “gold,” jewels, and precious artifacts. Meanwhile, others seek to exploit this vast shadow economy, running electronic sweatshops in the world’s poorest countries, where countless “gold farmers,” bound to their work by abusive contracts and physical threats, harvest virtual treasure for their employers to sell to First World gamers who are willing to spend real money to skip straight to higher-level gameplay.
Mala is a brilliant 15-year-old from rural India whose leadership skills in virtual combat have earned her the title of “General Robotwalla.” In Shenzen, heart of China’s industrial boom, Matthew is defying his former bosses to build his own successful gold-farming team. Leonard, who calls himself Wei-Dong, lives in Southern California, but spends his nights fighting virtual battles alongside his buddies in Asia, a world away. All of these young people, and more, will become entangled with the mysterious young woman called Big Sister Nor, who will use her experience, her knowledge of history, and her connections with real-world organizers to build them into a movement that can challenge the status quo.
The ruthless forces arrayed against them are willing to use any means to protect their power—including blackmail, extortion, infiltration, violence, and even murder. To survive, Big Sister’s people must out-think the system. This will lead them to devise a plan to crash the economy of every virtual world at once—a Ponzi scheme combined with a brilliant hack that ends up being the biggest, funnest game of all.
This book covers a lot of ground and while it is listed as a Young Adult book, I would recommend it to ANYBODY interested in learning something new. One of my favorite parts of this book is the surprising economics lesson you receive. There’s a lot of money in play and the plot is entangled in the intricacies of markets and both virtual and real. It is necessary to the plot to know a little about how these things work.

His characters are believable and complex. They are fallible  interesting and sometimes distasteful, and FTW doesn't offer simple redemption or punishment, but satisfying and real conclusions for each of them. They are from all around the world, but then that’s the beauty of the internet, paths can cross without either person needing to leave their chair and Doctorow handles the multiple cultural and linguistic collisions well.

Another great part of the book, that pairs up (obviously) with the economics is the organisation of labor into unions. As a union member myself (shoutout to my brothers and sisters) I feel strongly about workers rights no matter where they may be, or what they may do.

Some of you (geekier people) may recognize the name Cory Doctorow. He is a co-editor for BoingBoing.
Aside from writing posts on one of my favorite websites, and writing fantastically engrossing books he is also a force to be reckoned with in the world of copywrite law. And as such has made every single one of his books free to download as an Epub.

If you are interested in reading FTW, please check it out here:

If you're not making art with the intention of having it copied, you're not really making art for the twenty first century-- Cory Doctorow


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