1. THE FIRST 20 MILLION IS ALWAYS THE HARDEST, Po Bronson, Random
House, 1997. The story of a young entrepreneur (yes, in Silicon Valley)
who is fed up with his stupid company, so he launches his own startup
(on Internet design nonetheless). The first chapter is his exit
interview with the stupid company ("You understand that your memory...
is also the property of Omega Logic?"). The book goes on to watch the
development of the "Volkswagon PC" (or VWPC for short), a $300 device
that threatens the standard PC with obsolescence (sound familiar?). The
book features lots of SValley double deals, espionage, and trickery --
enough to make you wonder if it's really fiction.
2. DEEPER: MY TWO-YEAR ODYSSEY IN CYBERSPACE, John Seabrook,
Simon and Schuster, 1997. Wow. This book reads like a comprehensive
record of the culture that has grown up around the Internet, and
provides a matter-of-fact guide to lots of the lore and philosophies.
These are mostly things you probably already know, but it's cool to have
it all together in one place. It's got this cool novel narrative: the
progress of a newcomer as he explores a new world. Along the way he
discusses in terms that anyone can understand Moore's Law, free speech
(from A.J. Liebling's "Freedom of the press only applies to those who
own one" to John Gilmore's "The Net interprets censorship as damage and
routes around it"), memes on the Internet, and Bill Gates.
3. THE VITAL MACHINE, David Channell, Oxford University Press, 1991.
I found this one in the $3 bin for you, Rohit, so you need not buy it.
Interesting premise: he examines the history of our relationship with
technology and argues that, while the resolution of issues of dealing
with technology (such as computers and genetic engineering) may not be
imminent, the philosophical framework for dealing with them is already
in place. The source of peoples' fears is an outmoded distinction
between organic life and machines (!), the former giving a mechanical
view of the universe and the latter claiming there is a more vital,
directive force. He gives an ethical basis arguing that the distinction
between the mechanical and the vital is moot.
and one for Duck....
4. MONSTER: LIVING OFF THE BIG SCREEN, John Gregory Dunne, Random
House, 1997. This book is about the author's attempt to write the
screenplay for "Up Close and Personal" (the cruddy Robert Redford/
Catwoman movie from last year), which was supposed to be based on the
true story of telejournalist Jessica Savitch. However, turns out the
details of her life were too sordid for the Disney execs who had control
over approval for the script, and Dunne ended up rewriting the screenplay
twenty seven times (!!). This book is payback to the bozos at
Mouschwitz (or was it Duckau?) -- and at 200 pages, it goes by pretty
fast. Man, Eisner, Katzenberg, etc. seem like a bunch of jerks.
Then again, after the first $20 million, why care what anyone else in
the world thinks of you?
She's thinking holy mackerel, I'm thinking tuna on the side.
-- Bloodhound Gang