Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Book Review: Rainbows End

It's sometimes said, only half-jokingly, that Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash had such an effect on people that a fair number of them ran off and started VRML-related startups. There is some truth about it's influence. For example, J Allard often cited it as an influence when laying the initial plans for Xbox 360 & Xbox live. Snow Crash's influence had little to do with the book's plot, and far more to do with the compelling vision that Stephenson painted of the Metaverse

What Snowcrash was Virtual Reality, Rainbows End may be to Augmented Reality. I flagged it a while back to read (it was written in 2006!!), but decided to pop it to the top of the stack given renewed excitement around AR.

Vigne paints a truly compelling picture of the tech's possibilities. Some may be father fetched than others, but this doesn't matter. I found it to be intellectually stimulating on the subject of AR and it's possibilities for entertainment, informational and geographic navigation, advertising, education, and tons more.

It's a must read for anyone in tech for that reason alone. If you need more reasons though, how that the book also has...

Octogenarian hackers, mech-powered ARGs, terrorist librarians, crowd-sourcing riots, fan-fic universes, persona-hijacking, "War Against Computing",  materials-hacking shop classes, and at least one waskally wabbit, all involved in giant embroglio that comes to a page-turning crescendo.

Great book, highly recommended for anyone interested in AR's potential, or those that enjoyed Snow Crash or Diamond Age or others of that nature.

Rainbows End

1 comment:

Greg Bayles said...

I am just finishing up the last 10 or so pages of Rainbows End, and I really enjoyed your book review. It makes me want to go back and read it all over again. I was just curious... as a technology planner and futurist, what aspects of Vinge's technological revolution do you see as realistic in the near future?