News, views and what I choose to dos



Tag : Gary Kremen

Book launch and reviews

I had my book launch on Tuesday at Bar Detroit in Covent Garden. Terrific stuff. Lots of old friends, my publishers (several of the Quercus team pictured above), and my family. Gary Kremen was there and signed various books and generally entertained people. I did that weird thing where you speak to nearly everyone but only for a very sorry time each. I also didn’t eat anything, so I have lost the last half-hour or so of the evening and felt pretty rough the next day, but there you go – if you can’t do that at your book launch, when can you?

Anyway, there are a series of reviews out. And I’ve done a number of interviews so I thought I should quickly stick up links to them while I have a minute. Guy Kewney wrote one for his NewsWireless site, which The Register has decided to buy off him. Which is good news for me because Guy really enjoyed it. My favourite part: “You think you’re going to read a racy description of the high life of a few wealthy California dotcom millionaires, playing at pornography – but what you end up soaking into your soul, is a deep understanding of the pioneering days of the Internet.” Which was exactly what my intention was. He ends it: “It’s a brilliant bit of writing. Read it if you dare.” God bless him.

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Sunday Times article on Sex.com

This is the article that appeared in The Sunday Times on Sex.com today. As I mentioned earlier, the article appears under my byline but was entirely written by a writer the Times brought in. I’m interested to see what people think of the two versions I wrote and the one that’s appeared. I’ll do a poll, but feel free to stick comments on any of my posts.

I think the broad difference is that I was trying to tell the story, and the final piece has taken the tack about the Internet and domains. Perhaps my versions tried to do too much in a short space and so were too complex for easy comprehension. Anyway, the piece is in, there are a few minor mistakes in it, but then I have just been told it is linked to on the Drudge Report, so that has to be good. I only hope all this translates into people actually reading the book.

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Times review of Sex.com

The Times has done a review of Sex.com. Short and sweet: “Sex.com By Kieren McCarthy Reviewed by Iain Finlayson Civil…

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Sunday Times article version two

You should read this blog post before you delve into this piece.

“The Internet? The Internet is for porn!” exclaimed one of the speakers last week [18 May 2007] as the Oxford Union debated the question “This House believes that the Internet is the greatest force for Democratisation in the World”.

Professor John Palfrey of Harvard University was speaking against the motion. And although his point was tongue-in-cheek he accurately reflected an enduring situation with real-world use of the Internet. The Internet is for many things, but one of the biggest is, undoubtedly, porn.

A quarter of all search-engine requests are for pornography, at least a fifth of adults online have accessed a porn site, and there are an estimated 400 million Web pages out there catering for the demand. The adult industry is worth $57 billion worldwide, and the United States –the world centre for pornography – claims $12 billion of it.

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Sunday Times article version one

To find out what on earth this is all about, please read this blog post.

“In all the years you’ve been chasing me, you have never got a single asset in my name. And you never will.”

That was how Stephen Michael Cohen made it plain to the man sitting opposite him – a man who had been on his trail for over a decade – that he would never admit defeat. The statement was all the more poignant given the fact that Cohen was wearing an orange jumpsuit, standard-issue to inmates at the Santa Clara correction facility. Even though he was in jail, with no date set for release, and the man he was addressing was his best route out of there, Cohen remained defiant.

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A Sunday Times article what was written for me

I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned it but I’ve written this book about an extraordinary battle over the domain name Sex.com, and it was officially out on Monday.

I’ve been trying, naturally enough, to push this fact into the media, and I was delighted when my publisher’s publicity woman Lucy Ramsey told me that the Sunday Times News Review was interested in running a piece on it. I’ve always been a big fan of the New Review section of the Sunday Times. If ever I kept a section of the hugely bulky paper, it was this. And I remember thinking way back in the past that I would love to have a piece in it. Well, I was asked to do a piece for it. It was the worst possible timing of course – I have a huge amount of work on – but I did without sleep for two days and produced an article which I rather liked and sent it.

And the commissioning editor didn’t like it. But she was very pleasant about it and didn’t say “I don’t like it” but offered some other feasible reason. I agreed to rewrite it. So I wrote another version. I like this version too. Anyway, at 8.15pm, I get an email on my Blackberry saying that the piece was ready to go, they had made a few changes, but if I have any problems please call – she’ll be there until 10.30pm. My Blackberry would only show the first four paras or so, but it was clear it has been comprehensively rewritten. I asked her to add whoever had rehashed it to the byline. She said, no it was fine.

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Sex.com book bigger and better

I have passed the deadline for my book on Sex.com and I estimate I am still three weeks to a month away from finishing.

How? How could I have miscalculated? And why is it taking so long? Well, there are several reasons:

  1. A book contains a hell of a lot of words and it is hard, relentless work getting them written
  2. I underestimated the depth of the story. I am *still* discovering new elements to the story. I suppose when you are talking about two characters like Gary Kremen and Stephen Cohen, it was never going to be simple. And they have been at it for 10 years now. I figure if I am going to write a book on the whole saga I have to do it as comprehensively as possible.
  3. It took me a month to escape from my news editor mentality. You really have to get into a whole different state of mind to write a book
  4. It just takes alot of time to read thousands upon thousands of pages, interview people and pull it all into a coherent mass
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Sex.com book is go! go! go!

The best, most exciting, most important story surrounding the formation of the Internet we know today is the incredible tale of Sex.com.

The domain was registered in the very early days of 1994 – when domains were free – by a Chicago geek called Gary Kremen. It was then stolen in 1995 but lifelong con-man Stephen Cohen who used it to build up an enormous multi-million-pound empire.

Sex.com book coverBut Kremen fought and fought and fought, using up his own personal fortune from the sale of dotcom boom shares, and after years of battles – in and out of the courts – finally won the domain back. As a result, he put domain names in their proper place in law for the first time.

But rather than pay the $65 million the judge ordered, Cohen fled across the Mexican border. Kremen has been chasing Cohen around the world, trying to get his money, using the proceeds from Sex.com to fund it. Finally, after years of chasing, Cohen was picked up in Tijuana late last year and transported across the US border.

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