Want to understand the technology industry? Then you need to understand geeks, because they're responsible for it.
ZDNet UK Book Reviews
Essential reading for technophiles
The thing about immigrants is, they don't get the joke. Heather Brooke arrived in the UK fresh from a career in the American South as an investigative journalist covering murders and other nasty stuff.
"You're going to be successful and rich," Erica (Mara Rooney), the departing girlfriend of Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), tells him after a conversation of escalating intensity and social dysfunction at the beginning of The Social Network, which is based on Ben Mezrich's book The Accidental Billionaires. "But you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a tech geek.
True story. I was in Harrisburg, PA one afternoon and the internet died.
Twenty-five years ago the term 'hacker' didn't mean a cybercriminal, and the few who used it meant it as high praise. When Hackers first came out in 1984, Steven Levy was documenting how thirty years of brilliant and eccentric geeks (who were more interested in bending technology to their will than in building businesses, or even in what computers can actually do) had somehow produced a personal computer revolution that was about to sweep into every home.
My junior high school maths teacher, Nancy Rosenberg, often talked about her desire to illustrate basic principles of geometry via animated cartoons. She thought explaining points, lines, and angles would be more direct and intuitive if you could just show, for example, a line approaching, intersecting and then retreating from a circle.
In the early to mid 1990s it was fashionable to compare the unformed, open spaces of the internet to the 19th century American West: the 'electronic frontier'. Tabloid journalists liked to call the internet lawless and uncontrolled; pioneers preferred to call it uncontrollable.
It's almost humorous to remember now how terrified everyone seemed to be in the early 1990s of the mostly harmless 'dark-side hackers' of the era. The most famous of these was undoubtedly Kevin Mitnick, whose 1995 capture formed the basis of no less than three books.
Anywhere is big. Really big. You just won't believe how mind-bogglingly big it is.
Every decade (which means every two or three years in internet time) has its internet rethinker. This year it's virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier and You Are Not a Gadget.