MAKE FREE BY CORY DOCTOROW

Walled Gardens vs. Makers

When I was a grub, we traded in forbidden knowledge: “If you unscrew the receiver on a pay phone and short the screws on the back of the speaker by touching them to the chrome on the side of the phone, you get an open dial tone.”

Or: “Here is how you fold an origami crane.” Or: “Thus and so and thus and so, and now you’ve taken the motor out of your old tape recorder and attached it to your Meccano set.” Or: “If you POKE this address on your Commodore PET, you’ll shut the machine down.” The knowledge diffused slowly, and each newly discovered crumb was an excitement and cause for celebration.

Today, as a nearly senescent 38-year-old, I look back on that period with a kind of wonder and dismay. ...

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