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Daily Archives: July 24, 2009

Dual Review of WWW: Wake

cousw1smhcOne of the books G picked up at ALA was WWW: Wake. Well, actually, he saw it at ALA and ordered for his Kindle. After he finished it, I read it. I found it interesting. The main story involves Caitlin Decter, a teenage math whiz who has been blind since birth. When she tries an experimental procedure to restore her sight, what she first sees is a visual representation of the world wide web. Alongside Caitlin’s storyline, the book also introduces a group of researchers who are working with a bonobo chimpanzee, a Chinese blogger who is concerned when his government shuts down the internet, and an inanimate intelligence that reaches out to Caitlin through her unusal “websight.” I have to admit the science started to get a little beyond me (Zipf plots, Shannon Entropy, and cellular automata), but it was fun to think about. (Reading the book on an electronic device, it would have been interesting if I could have clicked on one or more of the scientific concepts and/or the websites mentioned in the text.)

It was the kind of book that I wanted to keep reading past my bedtime and that pulled me back in after breaks. At one point, near the end of the story, I was reading in my bed and starting to get sleepy. I was holding the “book” in my left hand and I found myself reaching up with my right hand to turn the page. My hand hit the Kindle. It was one of those strange experiences when my brain went back to its usual behavior when reaching the end of a page — instead of hitting the next page button.

I found it hardest to read the sections about the artificial intelligence that reaches out to Caitlin. I couldn’t understand it so I found myself skimming. Also, I couldn’t believe that I had reached the end of the story when the book ended. When I said to G that I wondered why the other story lines hadn’t been resolved, he told me the book is the first in a trilogy. Ah.

WWW: Wake reminded me a little of Little Brother because it has modern technology as an integral part — a character, even — of the book. G says he’ll add his bit later.