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4.3 out of 5 stars14
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 6 November 2012
Smith gives us a comprehensive history of the rise and fall of New York's pioneer dot-com companies. While he had his own first hand experience of the period, the book is mainly built around intensive interviews with Josh Harris who was the key figure in the development - often called the 'Warhol' of the internet. Harris made, spent and lost millions through expansive 'art' party events that explored his concept of living in full view through the electronic communications that became the 'web'. Smith shows us how the idealistic philosophy that Harris embodied was the fore-runner of social sites and living TV that have since become commonplace. The veracity of this history is supported by wide ranging interviews with other key figures in the growth and demise of "Silicon Alley". But most exceptionally Smith examines the economic causes of the collapse which he does in a clear, thoroughly researched and cogent way - an object lesson in investigative literature. He caps this analysis by exposing deliberate financial manipulation by bankers and agents of stock sales when the companies went public - a system of 'laddering' of dubious legality that resulted in over valuation of otherwise fragile and idealistic enterprises. This manipulation almost ensured failure as the speculators sold out and took their profits - making and bursting the bubble was no accident but engineered for profit at the expense of young people chasing a vision not money. Andrew Smith writes exceptionally well as he weaves an almost Gatsby-esque narrative around an economic and social, historical grasp that delights and informs.
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on 31 December 2012
A tale that had to be told, and a warning from recent history. Follow-the-herd investments are never what they appear.
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on 21 September 2012
This book started well and the central character, Josh Harris, seemed intriguing, but as the narrative unfolded it became apparent that he was not the mysterious Kurtz like character or visionary the author had been seeking. One wonders whether, having made the investment in finding Harris, Smith felt that he needed it to pay off. I found Harris' philosophizing to be self-aggrandizing and pretentious to the point of being irritating. There is some good basic history about the early days of the internet, so if you are studying that period, it may be useful. There is definitely enough information here for a couple of good articles. Unfortunately, whatever is worthwhile gets lost amongst the seemingly pointless trailing around after Harris waiting in vain for him to say something meaningful or do anything remotely interesting.
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on 19 January 2013
A fascinating, thrilling book about the birth of the internet, and its most intriguing pioneer, Josh Harris. A generation of dot-commers changed the world forever in the 90s, but most of them, Harris included, crashed and burned as hard as the trailblazing tech companies they founded. Essential reading for the cyber generation.
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