Two mini book reviews:
Just finished Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I know, I'm probaby way behind the times on this one, but it is being featured prominently as a paperback in the most discriminating airport bookshops. If you haven't yet read it, you should. Stephenson has done a great job of weaving two generations of characters into a fast moving, Indianan Jones-like story where cryptography is the topic that holds it all together. I actually learned more than I thought about cryptology and code breaking (appealing to my inner-geek) and was thoroughly entertained for most of the 1,000+ pages it took to get through this tome. An interesting sidelight is that by virtue of being written during the "Big Boom," this is a little time capsule of how we all felt, jet-setting around the world and making up (and sometimes making believe) business as we went along. A really good read.
Now, I'm in the middle of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow. I wrote about how Cory has had the guts to put his work out there for people to share on P2P networks with the confidence that folks will still patronize bookshops (and his publishers) to purchase the book. It's working for me. I'm reading from the PDF file on his site, but I will certainly click the link above and purchase a copy from Amazon: 1) because I want a "permanent" copy of this one for my bookshelf and 2) because I want to make this thing a conventional success (by measuring the number of mentions this is getting in the blogosphere, it's already a Net success) so Cory can go on writing for many years. This book is a head rush of ideas. Asking what would happen if the most current thinking about community on the Net were applied to everthing in "real life," this novel has had me smiling from the first page onward.
As someone with WDWOCD (Walt Disney World Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and a card carrying member of the Medical Blog Ad-Hocracy, Cory has managed to push all my buttons. Get this book (download, buy, whatever!) and read it. It'll make your head spin...but in a good way (like a ride on the Mad Tea Party).