May 13, 2003
Mini-review: ''Down and out in the Magic Kingdom''

I recently read Cory Doctorow's book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. It's a fun read, great for its technological inventions, but not as captivatingly written as for example Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash (despite many rave reviews).

Notable in the book is that it's written for "techies": you "ping" and "grep" information etc. The most notable feature, however, is the thoroughly interwoven set of new technologies, including personality backups (you never know when or how you might die), eternal life (if you choose to be restored from backup) and last but not least the exceptionally cool "Whuffie":

Part monetary currency, part a human "Google PageRank"; the Whuffie "reputation currency" measures a citizen's popularity and respect from other people. Whuffie can be earned like one can earn respect and even money in today's world, or in the way webloggers earn inbound links from others on the web: by doing work, by sharing valuable content, by writing stuff people respect and discuss. A cool concept indeed. Ben Hammersley lists it as one of the "25 technologies and notions we think hold most promise over the next year" and I agree: this would be damn cool to see implemented in the future! ;-)

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I admit the Whuffie sounds kind of cool. The other two cool inventions have already been used in an excellent story by John Varley. Though I can not remember the name of the individual story, it was somewhere in the Persistence of Vision collection by John Varley. This is not meant to be any sort of slight to Down and out in the Magic Kingdom I am sure it is a fine novel in its own respects.

Posted by: bill on May 25, 2003 03:33 PM
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