Cory & Cory

Isn’t it great when one of your heroes turns out to be a simply wonderful human being?

By now everyone who reads this blog must have heard my pleas about voting for Cory & The Tigermen who are semi-finalists in the SchoolJamUSA competition sponsored by NAMM. I’m very hopeful she’ll make it to the finals, but that depends on votes from all the good folks out there – every day for the month of November. It’s a pretty tall order for a 15-year-old to galvanize that kind of support, but she sure is trying!

And anyone who has visited Cory’s website knows that her next album (due out in December) is titled Reading in the Dark – every song was inspired by a book. As a parent (and shameless promoter), I am thrilled that she has undertaken such a creative challenge. As an educator, I am even more thrilled that she has chosen to build on her experiences reading literature ranging from Shakespeare sonnets to young adult novels that deal with issues of struggling identity.

One of the novels Cory read last year is Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. Sharing the same name is certainly a hook, but beyond that, the story is just dynamite and engaged my daughter Cory immediately. She also had the privilege of hearing him read from the book at a Philadelphia Free Library event – and she went home that night to write a song, she was so inspired.

Cory Doctorow published Little Brother under a Creative Commons license, meaning that anyone can download and read the book for free, and even use it to some extent. My Cory got very excited about that, and decided to use language from the book in a song. All her other songs have been written in her own words, drawing on inspiration after reading the authors’ works. In her Little Brother song, however, Cory Hite was able to use Cory Doctorow’s text in her lyrics. Due to some restrictions on the Creative Commons license, Cory contacted the author for explicit permission. It’s no surprise that he immediately granted her permission and wrote a very encouraging response.

It’s just so gratifying when one of your idols becomes a “real” person after you have some contact with them – and they turn out to be supportive, generous, and just plain nice. What an inspiration for a teenager struggling to find her own creative voice as a songwriter! Do yourself a favor and check out Little Brother, as well as Cory Doctorow’s other books. Yes, you can download them for free – but if you’re like us, you’ll love the books so much that you’ll be buying multiple copies to give as gifts.

And visit Cory’s website to hear the Little Brother song in its entirety; however, it will be much more meaningful if you’ve read the book.

Oh, and don’t forget to vote!

People are natural hackers – just out of practice …

I got to meet Cory Doctorow a few weeks ago. He was meeting with high school students and I’m fortunate enough to have one around the house, so she was my ticket to meet him. I’ve read his book Little Brother (one of the best young adult novels you’ll ever read) and I’ve followed his thinking on Boing Boing for years. Fortunately, it turns out he’s even cooler in person than on paper or screen. He spoke passionately about writing, following your instincts, and of course, intellectual freedom.

I took the opportunity to buy his new novel Makers (for adults) and promptly sat down to read it cover-to cover. Cory has written an optimistic view of the near future in which American ingenuity and creativity combine with venture capital to foster the creation of a new economy in which new ideas and skills flourish, albeit in counter intuitive ways. It’s not always an attractive vision (creativity is often messy), but it’s extremely hopeful, in that integrity and intelligence hold sway over corporate greed. Although technically science fiction – this book is accessible and engaging the way so much sci fi is not. Makers is about people you come to care about, and a future that might just be worth visiting.

At its heart, Makers encourages us to end disposable thinking (both in terms of things and people) in favor of re-use and re-purpose (both in terms of things and people). So then I stumbled across sugru … and all I could think about was the world of Makers and how the characters tinkered and made new stuff from old. Watch the video and then think about all the things we don’t have to throw away … of course, the first 1000 packs of sugru sold out in 6 hours, so I’m not the only one who thinks it’s pretty cool.

And by the way, Cory Doctorow also has!