Phillip Smith

No one says it better than Cory Doctorow

Few are as eloquent and succinct as Mr. Cory Doctorow. His note this year struck a cord for me personally, as he writes of economic uncertainty and the amazing thing that is "open." Here's the full text of his "Thanks for 2008 -- see you next year!" e-mail:
I’m off on my family holiday and won’t be back until 2009, so I wanted to drop one last email for the wild and wooly 2008 — a year that was busy and wonderful and that ended a little scarily. We moved continents and had a baby; I wrote two books and published three; went on a book tour and spent a month in Asia researching the next book; and to top it all off, got married three times on two continents (to the same woman!). It’s been a fantastic year, thanks to you folks. It’s been an especially great year for me, writing-wise. The UK edition of Little Brother, my first young adult novel, is selling briskly, and the US edition is doing spectacularly, having just gone on to an eighth hardcover printing (the hardcover’s selling so well that my publisher’s delayed the paperback for a year!). The book’s made just about everyone’s best-of lists for 2008: the New York Times, the LA Times, the Washington Post, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Review, School Library Journal, Amazon Editors’ Picks, Amazon top teen books, Richie’s Picks, Book Sense, VOYA, TeenReads, Texas Library Association, io9 — not to mention a whopping haul of awards and award-nominations: Emperor Norton Award, ALA’s YALSA Award, Cybils Award, Prometheus Award, Ontario Library Association White Pine Award, the ALA Printz Award and the Nebula Award! My agents are doing some serious talking with a film studio (though nothing’s ever final until it’s signed and delivered), and there are more overseas publishers signing up every month to do their own editions. Best of all is all the fan-stuff — videos, art, readings, translations, adaptations… All the stuff that takes advantage of the Creative Commons license to remake Little Brother to better suit the readers (and man, do I get awesome email from readers, from security researchers at Microsoft to activist students in rural schools). And of course, I was floored by the generosity of the donors who sent hundreds of copies of the book to libraries, schools, halfway houses, and shelters as a way of saying thanks for the CC license. Who the hell knows what’ll happen in 2009? It’s definitely the most uncertain new year I can remember. One thing I’m sure of, though, is that whatever happens, we’ll all figure it out together, that the Internet will make it possible for us to bug-in and help each other here at home, rather than heading for a defensive position in the hills. Crappy economies are often the home of wonderful Bohemias. Two recessions ago, I dropped out of school to become a computer programmer. In the last one, I quit the company I’d co-founded and went to work for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Now that I’m a parent — and now that I’m a little older — I feel the risk a lot more keenly than I did then. But I just keep on remembering that we live in the best time in the history of the world to have a worst time: the time when collective action is cheaper and easier than ever, the time when more information and better access to tools, ideas and communities are at our fingertips than they’ve ever been. Have a fantastic holiday. Remind the people who matter to you of that fact. Ring in the new year with a big grin, and I’ll see you all in 2009. -- Cory Doctorow


Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.


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