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Cory Doctorow nerdybio: The Nerd Community

Cory Doctorow

Interviewed on
July 18, 2022 in Activist Journalist Linux Writer

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Cory Doctorow and I'm an activist, science fiction writer and journalist. I've been involved with the Electronic Frontier Foundation for 20 years and worked on many important policy fights related to human rights and technology, and I've published more than 20 books.

I have eight books in production for publication between now and late 2025 - four science fiction novels from Tor, a graphic novel from Firstsecond, two nonfiction books about tech policy, and a short story collection. I edit a daily blog at that you can get as threads on [Twitter][] or [Mastodon][], over the web or RSS, on [Tumblr][] or [Medium][], or as a newsletter.

What hardware(tools) and software do you use?

I use a [Framework laptop][framework-laptop]. It's the greatest laptop I've ever used.

I have a home office that I used to only use about half of the time, pre-pandemic, when I traveled constantly. These days I'm in it nearly every day.

My office has a 40" LG monitor, a Kiyo webcam, a VEC podium mic, a bunch of USB hubs, and a generic Lightning hub to hold it together. I use [Steelcase Leap chairs][leap]; my first one (bought from a guy shutting down his dotcom bust and selling everything on a San Francisco sidewalk in 2001) was $20 and lasted for nearly 20 years. I retired it and bought my second one just before lockdown. It cost a lot more.

I have a [Pixel 5][pixel-5] [Android][] phone and a Newdery battery case. I go through a succession of terrible Bluetooth headsets and burn with rage at the absence of a 3mm headphone jack.

On the desktop, I've been an exclusive [Ubuntu][] user since about 2005. Currently running the latest version, 21.10.

I use [Firefox][] and [Brave][] as my daily driver browsers, and [Chrome][] for apps that require it (including [Gdocs][google-docs], because only Chrome has a work offline mode).

I compose most of my fiction and long-form nonfic, as well as blog posts in [Gedit][], a text editor, usually with emacs keybindings.

I use [Rhythmbox][] for my MP3 collection. I have ~30,000 MP3s in a shuffle playlist whose rule is "Music rated 4 or 5 stars that hasn't played in at least 30 days."

I use [LibreOffice][] for formatted text and bookkeeping and the odd slideshow.

I use [Audacity][] to record and edit podcasts, and [EasyTAG][] to manage the metadata.

I use [Mattermost][] for comms with EFF and [Signal][] for friends, family and creative collaborators.

I use the [GIMP][] to create and edit images for my blog.

I use [VeraCrypt][] for secure storage.

On the mobile side, I use [Firefox][firefox-android], [BeyondPod][beyondpod-android] (podcasts); [Newsblur][newsblur-android] (RSS), [Flickr][flickr-android], and [K-9 Mail][k-9-mail-android].

What would be your dream/dream setup?

There are some UI things about my Ubuntu apps that niggle at me. In my dream world, I'd be able to file a bug against them and have someone fix them right away.

I'd like my Framework laptop to have a Thinkpad-style pointer and three hardware buttons, and effectively infinite battery life.

I'd like a one-button macro to dim my office lights and bring up my three-point video lights so they're perfect for livecasts.

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