This is a massive and ambitious book, that starts off as another primer on modern urbanism, touching in particular on Patrick Geddes, but covering familiar territory with insight and and vigour. From there it seems to shade into an account of personal activism in the world of cobbling together free wifi for neighbourhoods, and then into an almost scholarly account of the potential for witting or unwitting community generated data to power our new cities and our future.
I am not an expert on all the subjects touched upon, but even where the material was potentially familiar I found it interesting with fresh insights. At all points I found the book convincing, thoughtful and well informed.
Many of these forward looking books, tend to rely on wishful thinking about what the future might be like, without a firm grounding in what the actual issues are today, on the contrary this book is firmly rooted in why the enormous potential for big data to transform our lives for the better is neither straightforward nor inevitable.
My main criticism would be that the book is perhaps too large, too ambitious, were I the editor I would have split it into two or three more tightly themed books. I read the book on Kindle and although I found it enjoyable and hugely informative, at times it felt like it would stretch on forever. The Kindle version does however only run to the 70% mark, the remainder being taken up by references, and an index.
The formatting for Kindle was fine, there were a few typos/errors, such as a reference to the Firth Bridge (the Forth surely) and light year as a unit of time (it is a unit of distance). This is a major book, packed with state of the art insights into information technology and how we live today. This is a classic of its kind and ought to be read by everyone.
There is a lot of hype around smart cities and future cites, mostly from global vendors with a spin to sell city wide enterprise software. However this book explores and demonstrates that it's the "urban hacker" as he refers to the smart young geek, who are shaping our cites to become smarter. A very good book to anyine wondering how to get into the biggest global market.