Throwback Thursdays: Security Literacy: Teaching Kids to Think Critically About Security

Welcome to Throwback Thursdays on the Tor/Forge blog! Every other week, we’re delving into our newsletter archives and sharing some of our favorite posts.

Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother was first published in April 2008. Since then, it’s garnered attention, awards, and legions of fans. The much anticipated follow-up, Homeland published in February of 2013, and is now available in trade paperback. To celebrate the return of Marcus Yallow, we looked back into our archives and found this piece from April 2008, when Cory Doctorow spoke about teaching kids about online security. We hope you enjoy this blast from the past, and be sure to check back every other Thursday for more!

Little Brother by Cory DoctorowBy Cory Doctorow

How do kids figure out which search-engine results to trust? What happens to their Facebook disclosures? How can they tell whether a camera, ID check, or rule is making them safer or less safe? In the absence of the right critical literacy tools, they’ll never know how to read a Wikipedia article so that they can tell if it’s credible. They’ll never know how to keep from ruining their adulthood with the videos they post as a teenager, and they’ll never know when the government is making them safer or less safe.

Little Brother tells the story of young people who bootstrap their own security literacy because the adults around them fail to do so. I think that’s a depressingly realistic storyline, unfortunately. Security is hard to get right, and doubly so when it involves unfamiliar threats and countermeasures — can you tell at a glance whether the new high-tech lock in the window of your bike shop will work? (Here’s a clue: the best-selling lock brand for two decades was recently shown to be breakable with a disposable Bic pen in 10 seconds flat.)

Kids need critical tools and they need to sharpen those critical tools through debate and discussion, and that’s where Little Brother comes in. I don’t expect anyone to agree with everything I say — and I certainly hope that kids question every word in Little Brother and figure out how they feel about this stuff for themselves.

We live in an age where critical discussion of security is *literally* illegal. You can’t turn to the TSA officer who’s just taken away your water bottle and say, “I don’t believe that you can bomb a plane with water.” Mentioning the word “bomb” in front of a TSA agent is not allowed.

The difference between freedom and totalitarianism comes down to this: do our machines serve us, or control us? We live in the technological age that puts all other technological ages to shame. We are literally covered in technology, it rides in our pockets, pressed to our skin, in our ears, sometimes even implanted in our bodies. If these devices treat us as masters, then there is no limit to what we can achieve. But if they treat us as suspects, then we are doomed, for the jailers have us in a grip that is tighter than any authoritarian fantasy of the Inquisition.

It’s my sincere hope that this book will spark vigorous discussions kid/adult about security, liberty, privacy, and free speech — about the values that ennoble us as human beings and give us the dignity to do honor to our species. Thank you for sharing it with the young people in your life — and for being a guide at a time when we need guides more than ever.

Little Brother (Tor Teen; 978-0-7653-2311-8, $10.99), by Cory Doctorow, published in April 2010. Visit Cory online at craphound.com or boingboing.net.

This article is originally from the May 2008 Tor/Forge newsletter. Sign up for the Tor/Forge newsletter now, and get similar content in your inbox twice a month!

The Week in Review

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

Crafting a Shardblade

  • Watch a great conversation between Cory Doctorow and William Campbell Powell, the author of Expiration Day, about overcoming your fear of change.
  • John Scalzi has announced a new novella, “Unlocked,” a prequel story to his upcoming novel Lock In.
  • Last but not least, this week’s Throwback Thursday post features the inimitable Elizabeth Bear, who gives great advice, as always.

 
And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!

The Week in Review

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

Robert_Jordan
 

  • The Game of Thrones stars posed with miniature, adorable toys of themselves. I want the Ned Stark figure with detachable head someone posted in the comments!

 
The Tor/Forge newsletter went out this week!

 
And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!

The Week in Review

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

  • MIT and Harvard have made a real life lightsaber. I want one. Immediately. I promise not to point it at my eyes first thing.
  • Want to see a bit more of the Formics from Ender’s Game? Check out the new TV spot! Not long until November 1st now…
  • Over at Tor.com, The Cure author Douglas E. Richards has taken a two part look at science fiction’s greatest movie villains, asking whether or not they’re psychopaths. It’s a great, fun read. Check out Part One and Part Two.
  • And finally, the full video of Flight From Shadow, a fan-made short film set in the world of The Wheel of Time, has arrived!

 
The Tor/Forge newsletter went out this week! Check out these fascinating articles from our authors:

 
And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!

New Releases: 8/27/2013

See upcoming releases.

The Week in Review

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

  • Now that Little Brother has been chosen as the One City One Book title for San Francisco this year, they’ve also announced a Little Brother Scavenger Hunt!

The Tor/Forge newsletter went out this week! Check out these fascinating articles from our authors:

And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!

Little Brother-themed team scavenger hunt coming to San Francisco

Little Brother by Cory DoctorowThe San Francisco Public Library announces a city-wide scavenger hunt to coincide with the One City One Book festival!

Rogue Agent! The One City One Book 2013 Scavenger Hunt

A rogue government operative has a plan that will jeopardize the privacy of all citizens, and it’s up to you and your team to stop him before time runs out!

On September 14th, 2:00-5:30, we’re teaming up with the San Francisco Public Library to create a scavenger hunt based upon Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. As part of the One City One Book festival, teams will take to the streets and scour the library to solve clues, crack codes, and help bring the perpetrator to justice.

Assemble a crack team of puzzle solvers, and bring your wits, a spirit of adventure, and your best walking shoes.  The One City One Book hunt is FREE, but you must register your team online before Friday, September 13th in order to play.  Find more information and register your team here.

Not at San Diego Comic-Con Sweepstakes

Tor Books is heading to San Diego Comic-Con!

We hope to see many of you there. Stop by Booth #2707 to say hi or to participate in one of our many events and signings.

But for those of you who couldn’t make it out to California, we wanted to offer you the chance to grab some of the same amazing swag and books that we’re promoting at #SDCC. To enter for the chance to win one of these five prize bundles, leave a comment on this post telling us one fabulous thing that you’ll be doing this week while you are #NotAtComicCon. Whether you’re battling Dragon Army, matching wits with Tyrion Lannister, or chauffeuring your kids to soccer practice, we hope that you have a wonderful week.

Here’s a look at the prize:

And here’s a list of what’s included in each prize bundle:

    • Ender’s Game movie poster
    • Ender’s Game T-shirt and cap
    • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
    • The Way of Kings quote magnets
    • Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
    • Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
    • The Eternity Artifact by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
    • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
    • The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel: Volume 3 based on the novel by Robert Jordan, written by Chuck Dixon, and illustrated by Marcio Fiorito and Francis Nuguit
    • Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson
    • Girl Genius Omnibus Volume One by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio
    • Halo: Glasslands by Karen Traviss
    • Homeland by Cory Doctorow
    • The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe
    • The Human Division by John Scalzi
    • Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
    • Ironskin by Tina Connolly
    • Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero by Fred Chao
    • London Falling by Paul Cornell
    • The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind
    • River Road by Suzanne Johnson
    • Sea Change by S. M. Wheeler
    • The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
    • Wild Cards I edited by George R. R. Martin

Plus, one winner will receive this display exclusive – a Redshirts booth poster!

Redshirts SDCC Booth Display Poster

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the 50 United States or D.C. to enter. Promotion begins July 18, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET. and ends July 22, 2013, 12:00 p.m. ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules go here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

The Week in Review

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

Tropic of Serpents

  • We’ve gotten in Todd Lockwood’s cover art for Tropic of Serpents, by Marie Brennan, and it’s just gorgeous. So Tor.com decided to make some free wallpaper for anyone who wants to download it!
  • There’s a new Humble eBook Bundle! The bundle includes Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, and more!
  • Author Jay Lake has been dealing with cancer and the fact that he’s dying. And he’s doing it his own way, by hosting his own funeral before he dies. JayWake will be held on July 27th. See the link for more details.
  • We knew Robert Jordan was a fan of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Apparently, he was enough of a fan to request a signed copy from Martin’s editor. There’s some fun commentary about series length in there.
  • Last but definitely not least, will you be at San Diego Comic-Con? Come say hi!

The Tor/Forge newsletter went out this week! Check out these fascinating articles from our authors:

And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!