Cory Doctorow’s Story Keeps Me Up at Night
“Makers” makes my mind spin
Doctorow pictures a future U.S. that has been in decline for some time. Big work for big corporations is long gone and poverty is the new normal. This is a future where giant empty boarded-up malls and Wal-marts invite ad hoc flea markets. And these flea markets now represent the best of commerce as they inhabit high-end retail spaces formerly occupied by the Macy’s and Nordstroms and the like.
After the new economy stripped away the old dependable jobs, the New Work movement sprang up with people recycling waste technology and creating mind-bending, highly specialized products that created their own markets. Cottage industries formed in communities small and large all over the country and people jumped their remaining corporate positions to pursue their own visions. And then it all fell apart. Again.
The book’s vision makes my head spin because of the visceral sense of work as creating and owning. The vividly drawn characters create and collaborate in ways that are very easy to picture, amidst the volatile conditions that already exist in our culture. Maybe it’s the ups and downs of these spirited characters that keeps me awake at night. Doctorow’s vision of the future is that of decline with a sharp aftertaste of humanity striving and living and sometimes succeeding.
I’m only halfway through, but the book has my attention. I may need to finish it fast so I can sleep again.