March 04, 2006
MICHAEL MALONE POSTS a lengthy review of An Army of Davids at ABC's Silicon Insider. Excerpt:
I cannot think of a better book for the average reader to understand just how the Web and other digital technologies are reversing the polarities of modern society — restoring many features of daily life lost with the Industrial Revolution, while at the same time inventing powerful new cultural institutions. And for those of us who make careers out of watching this transformation, no book to date so well summarizes all of the diverse trends in a single narrative.
It's a great review, and I have no complaints. But I'm a bit frustrated -- with myself -- because Malone doesn't see the connection between the final chapters of the book (on nanotechnology, space, and the Singularity) and the earlier chapters on more contemporary phenomena. That's my fault, not his. I thought I had a pretty clear story arc, starting with events today, then explaining how nanotechnology will represent a vast intensification of current trends, leading to vastly (and to a degree, dangerously) empowered individuals, with worries that we'd see either explosive chaos, or a global police state (I invoke Larry Niven's A.R.M., and note that it's actually a rather benign vision of such things) -- with the space bit appearing to explain why we need the safety factor of dispersing people beyond earth, and how the new space frontier will protect values of individualism. I quote Bob Zubrin on that point. (I also discuss the X-Prize, which has a real Army-of-Davids character.)
It seemed clear to me, but Malone's not the only one to miss that, which makes it my fault. Maybe I'll add a few paragraphs to the next edition, if there is one, to make that point clearer.
UPDATE: Comments on my response.