I have had this book on my bookshelf since 1997(or maybe 1998), but it has sat there unread for a number of reasons over the years but finally it seems my brain has been prepared enough to take it in.
I keep thinking that he is talking about YouTube or Twitter, things from post 2005, but then he starts talking about the new fangled browser Netscape, recently evolved out of Mosaic, and it hits home the fact that he is talking about our online world today as a “prophecy” of where he sees us heading based on the cultural shifts around him in the mid 90’s – 15 years ago!
There are bits of what he talks about that are only now starting to become reality in south Africa in the past few weeks thanks to the recent uncapped broadband offers at reasonable prices. Video content generated by individuals not corporations (like YouTube or more specifically examples like our local ZA Tech Show Live Stream).
I am filled with great hope for a far more connected community, and greater freedoms and expressions of a non-traditional media. He pre-empts some of the thoughts in the Cluetrain Manifesto (1999/2000), the blogging “revolution”, and the demise of traditional media (which has only really hitting the “front page news” in the past few years.
A lot of the concepts expressed in the book can come across as socialist, anarchic and anti-establishment dreams for the future but if you look beyond those labels you will find an expression of the struggle for meaning, relevance and the value of an individual within an increasingly global and politically correct society.
There might be a lot that is disagreeable in the book (depending on your personal beliefs) but the fact that his vision of where we would be heading from 1996 forward has such a lot of similarity with what has happened in the past 15 years shows that, whatever disagreements you might have with his philosophies, he has a good understanding of our culture and the forces that drove us forwards in the past 15 years.
Give it a read, you might be pleasantly surprised.