Digital Reviewer

Book Review: Interop

This book looks interesting, reviewed in Times Higher Education this week:

You’ve probably been there: the plenary speaker arrives straight from the airport, rocks up to the podium and whips out a Mac laptop that the techie supporting the event assumed would be a PC. There is much muttering and scrabbling for a video adaptor – for the keynote speech has been written in, well, Keynote and won’t translate adequately into PowerPoint.

This all-too-familiar premise forms the opening to Interop, a timely discussion of how systems interconnect – or fail to – in our technology-dependent society. Thankfully, much interoperability – the “interop” of the title – has developed around us to the extent that astonishing technical feats seem almost commonplace, and our growing dependence on the once-humble mobile phone provides a good example. The first time you get off a transatlantic flight and switch on your phone, it’s hard not to feel a sense of magic as it swiftly scans for a signal and connects you to the local partner network. Such seamless integration so quickly becomes the assumed norm that, on subsequent occasions, you may begin to resent the 10 or 15 seconds that your phone needs to get that first connection.

Read full story.


Electronic Isolation

As someone who has just had to send my mi-fi off for repair, and thus will only be able to connect via my phone, or other people’s (sometimes dodgy speed) wi-fi, for at least the next 10 days… this tale of being disconnected is interesting… although you will note that I often CHOOSE to largely (if not entirely) disconnect when abroad:

Recently, Wikipedia went on strike, presenting us with blank screens rather than the usual fast “facts”. It was protesting against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act proposed in the US.

Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales encouraged the public to rise up against what he sees as a threat to free speech.

“Imagine a world without free information,” said Jimmy. I did. It scared the living daylights out of me. But it turns out I needn’t have bothered. I could have waited until I came to this hotel and had the chance to live it for real.

Read the rest of this amusing story here.