2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Good in parts,
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This review is from: Pull (Portfolio) (Hardcover)
This book has its good bits and its not-so-good bits. It is certainly thought provoking and sparked off all kinds of ideas about what is possible. It is very wide ranging (libraries, the health care system, tax) and appears in general to be very well researched.
It was marred by several things. Firstly in a few particulars it was factually inaccurate (e.g in the assertion that print-on-demand - POD - books do not have ISBNs. The author misses a trick here - the ramifications of POD are potentially huge). Secondly the book is very ethnocentric. Just for example, Chinese internet usage is closing fast on the US. By mid century, China will have eclipsed the US and what China is doing on line will matter more to us than what the US is doing. Another example of ethnocentricity: the assertion that what Africa needs is the Internet. This is just asinine (try clean water).
The third weakness was an overliberal application of semantic pixie dust. We have "semantic information" (what other kind of information is there?), "semantic formats", "semantic legal documents", "semantic feedback" etc: and although I suspect that the author knows what he means by the term, he doesn't define it adequately for the rest of us. For example, he talks about "semantic" meaning (among other things) "unambiguous". I think what he means is that "there is never any doubt what a piece of data represents or to what/whom it applies". So "semantic" data combines the data value itself (39.4), what it represents (weight in kgs) and what it refers to (a particular make and model of lead-acid battery): but that is my extrapolation, not the author's.
The fourth weakness is that his depiction of the future does not even acknowledge the risk of the wholly disruptive. I recall reading in the 1960s a book written in the 1930s about the future of commercial aviation. It was comical because the author had not anticipated the gas turbine, the second world war or the social changes that ushered in mass air travel. This author might have been wise at times to have taken a broader view and shown greater humility in his prognostications.