Leo Babauta is a simplicity blogger & author. He created Zen Habits - a blog with over 200,000 subscribers, mnmlist.com, and the best-selling books focus, The Power of Less, and Zen To Done. He has dedicated the Zen Habits blog and Zen to Done e-book to the public domain. In this interview with Graziano Sorbaioli of Libreplanet Italia, he shares his thoughts on free software, copyright, and DRM.
It's something I started exploring in the 1990s, then forgot about, then rediscovered in 2006. I'm still learning.
There's a lot of appeal to giving up technology and living in a log cabin in the woods with nothing but the bare necessities. There's also a lot of value in technology -- it has enabled us to create things impossible only a decade or two ago, to connect in ways never imagined before, to give us instant access to learning that was simply unthinkable when we were growing up. That's as amazing as anything you'll find in the woods.
The freedom of Identi.ca truly appeals to me, but I don't feel it has reached the critical mass it needs to be as useful as it could be. I haven't given up on the idea though.
I place limits on how much time I spend reading news and social media, and getting updated. If I don't set limits, it will eat up my creative time.
It was an experiment -- I'd been holding onto copyright out of fear, but I asked myself, "What would happen if I just let go?" I didn't know the answer, but the idea that ideas should be free of the restrictions they've had for centuries was a beautiful one to me -- and an idea I freely stole from others. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that no work is completely original, that authors build on the ideas of others every single time they write, and that if we pretend we own this stuff and threaten to sue those who use our ideas, we are hypocrites. Let go of the idea of ownership, and see what inventions can arise. Free software has shown me that letting go of protections over information can result in wondrous things.
Authors need to put their readers first, always, if they want trust from their readers. Put yourself in your reader's shoes: do technical restrictions on the use of your book help the reader? Or do they frustrate and annoy the reader? What message does this send to the reader -- that you care more about the reader or protecting your ownership over something they've paid you for?
Authors use DRM out of fear, not out of a desire to give something valuable to readers. Release the fear, release the DRM, and see what happens when you start a relationship with trust.
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