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Journal waveclaw's Journal: My Book Reviews: 00

Road Warriors: Deams and Nightmares Along the Information Highway

466 pg.

Daniel Burstein, David Kline

1995 Penguin Books

ISBN 0-525-93726-9


The living story behind the "Information Highway" and the highwaymen and women who build it.


Introduction: The Utopia Paradox

Part 1: Where the Roads Connect

  1. The Fog of War
  2. Accidental Genesis
  3. The Rabbit in the Hat

Part 2: A Kingdom of Riches

  1. The Internet Reconsidered
  2. Monster Experiment
  3. Read Out and Crush Someone
  4. The Games People Play
  5. Smart TV or a PC in Drag?
  6. An Interesting Place to Go

Part 3: Brave New World

  1. Private Riches, Social Wealth
  2. The Global Challenge
  3. To Have and Have Not

Appendix A: The Interview Triptych

Appendix B: A Twenty-First Century

        Burstein and Kline have a very well researched set of quotes, competent sources and an almost textbook-like ate of Notes. The text reads well with a prose adapted striaght from the pages of Wired, possibly due to the influence of Kline who is a columnist for HotWired. The focus on people and relationships secures this encylopaedia of marketing and industry politik from the curse of technology focus. Two volumnous appendicies cover detailed accounts of current high-level digital dignitaries interviews and a look at the furture through an improvised thought experiement.
The Bad:
        For all the work that has gone into weaving a cohesive whole from the text, the book tends to read like quotes strung one after the other. Focus in the early chapters centers around telling the story of what is, but the bookshows to debating morality and justice in cyberspace as Kilne and Burstein try to divine the direction of the furture. Both the disturbing shift in topic and the low-cohesion of the quote-based writing combine to muddy the impact of constant urging for action.
The Ugly:
        Two words - Interactive Television - defines the major flaw of this large undertaking. By the 260th page, this concept has been raised to the highest places by the authors while throughouly trashed by direct quotes of the authorities used to flesh it out. Pushing for this awful metaphor for the future of computing severely undermines the reader's confidence in the material. Yet no real depth of discussion is reached about this conflict in paradigm.

        Were that this the only missed opportunity in the text, it would be passable. However the issues continue to build throughout the development of this "whole picture" of backrooms and boardrooms. Burstein and Kline quote Kenedy: "if men have the talent to invent new machines that put menout of work, they have the telkent to put those men back to work. Rather than call Kenedy on this poor homily - it is intent not talent these pundits should eveluate - he is used to back up a case for the unique early-U.S. Ford manufacuting ethos: "make customers out of your employees." The authors then descend into chapter after chapter of war mongering about the destructive potential in the "digital revolution" in which they hope to participate (the book was written during the end of the worst downturns in the history of the information sector.)

        The cerebral layout of the text is intemidating if the read is not familiar with college textbook fare. This is definitely a book written by and for the cyberspace intelligestia. Unfortunately, those intellegent enought to comprehend Road Warriors are those likely to be put off by the grasping moralism and petty preaching turn of direction that mars the last quarter of the text.

Having read this work both before and after the Dot-Com Bubble's rise and collapse, it amuses me that my initial

analaysis so many years ago still rings true: don't bother paying for this book. Unless you suffer from insomnia or are really lost as to how to market bad ideas when you

find it on your library shelf, just walk away.

Personal Rating: 2.5 out of 10

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My Book Reviews: 00

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Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming