Vaporized by Robert Tercek: BOOK REVIEW

Vaporized is one of those books that every businessman, digital being, parent, human and robot should read.


VaporizedI first met Rob Tercek in a San Francisco hotel during the CTIA conference and I’ve never forgotten that meeting; I even remember the decor and the angle of the sunlight.

Tercek was talking about Africans playing mobile games and why mobile games publishers (such as my company) weren’t preparing for that market. He was the first person apart from my young self who had talked about that, it was awesome that I could agree with somebody as smart as that.

Since then, Rob has the portfolio career that has allowed him to meet everybody; the smartest people on the planet while I’ve stayed true to reading books, making 50/50 decisions and playing pool in the Hassocks Hotel, my local pub. But I still understand him, and I loved this book.

Moreover, it’s the first e-book I’ve ever read and I found the process fascinating because I read faster than normal. That, however, is probably down to the content I was reading. Rob is a visionary and his idea of the near-future is as certain as anything I’ve read.

At times it’s like reading the scriptwriter and mentor of the Black Mirror series of films, but less dyspotic. Beneath the Cassandra-style warnings lies an optimism that inspires. All industries and creations are being ‘vaporized’ by software, not just jobs, but also companies, governments and even our bodies.

Most of us in the ‘industry’ know that, but Tercek knows more and, a decade on, I still agree with him. That is, apart from books. He’s happy to see the bookshop go, I’m not. I would have enjoyed Vaporized even more if I’d read it as a hardback. Even so, I cannot recommend this highly enough. It’s the Great American Tech Novel.

BOOK REVIEW: The Industries Of The Future – Alec Ross

Future industries are the subjects of Ross’s eponymous book and the outlook isn’t looking good for anybody who was brought up in the analogue past.

futureFirst were the musicians, journalists and writers whose livelihoods were destroyed by digital, the next wave will see translation and driving careers destroyed and after that, it will be everything else.

Ross knows what he is talking about after his time in the White House as a Senior Advisor on Innovation to Hilary Clinton and this book is a worthy addition to the near-future canon. The Industries Of The Future.

The blurb talks of his travels that took in more than 40 countries and a million miles, but this is incidental to the stories within. Ross writes well on what he knows and, like an expensive consultant, he knows a lot about a lot.

For those who read such books, there is little here that is new. Most observers know that the next ten years will pick up on the disruption the internet has wreaked over the past two decades. Even so, for those who only know a lot about particular subjects, this book will serve as a decent reference book to their knowledge-gathering

BOOK REVIEW: Official ScratchJr Book

Most parents with children of a certain age know about the Scratch programming language as much as the kids themselves. It is a free app that lets kids to code in an easy way by showing them how to create games and animations.


bookMost parents with children of a certain age know about the Scratch programming language as much as the kids themselves. It is a free app that lets kids to code in an easy way by showing them how to create games and animations.The best back-up to Scratch if kids want to learn more about coding is the Official ScratchJr Book, which lets them (as well as their parents and teachers) drill into the app and take things to a different level.

Unlike the app, this physical book isn’t free and costs around £13 from various app stores, the Kindle edition being slightly cheaper. It is, however, worth that small investment. Getting teenagers to code is a Herculean task because for many it is perceived as extra maths or even difficult algebra; timing is key if they are to maintain an interest.

By working with them at any time for the five years before teenhood with books such as these means there is an above-average chance they will go with the coding flow. If they don’t, then by the time they leave their teenage years the world may have no use for them if they cannot code. That is the New Normal, it doesn’t even ‘scratch’ the surface of how important this skill, even art, is going to be.

150-WORD BOOK REVIEW: The Rift by Alex Perry

rift

The author of The Rift is a white man who knows Africa and who made his living writing for Time magazine.

Alex Perry knows his subject and chronicles the changing times of the continent as well as the extraordinary Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński.

Praise indeed, but deserved. His anger at the way Africa is portrayed, and the aid organisations who almost profiteer from their involvement, is measured and volcanic at the same time. What he offers is an alternative view to the way Western media belittles the land-where-humans-were-created.

There was one personal bum note, however, with The Rift. Two years ago I received the biggest ovation of my life at a conference in Kenya when I derided the so-called Silicon Savannah moniker foisted on Nairobi’s tech hub and told the African audience they had no need to be compared to Silicon Valley.

Unfortunately, it appears that Perry was the person who coined this phrase, so on that subject we shall agree to differ. On the rest of it, we agree completely and this is an important book that should be read by anybody who wants to get a feel on what is happening in Africa. I loved reading it.

A Brief History Of Seven Killings: 150-WORD BOOK REVIEW

briefA Brief History Of Seven Killings, Marlon James’ extraordinary third novel has received acclaim from the world’s literary critics and last year won the Man Booker Prize, but it is much more important than that.

Filmic (or more likely boxset-ic) from the start, it’s not surprising that HBO have already bought up the options because this book is magnificent. Like an updated War And Peace set in Kingston and New York, not St Petersburg and Moscow, there are more than enough characters to rival Tolstoy’s creations.

Based on an assassination attempt on Bob Marley when the CIA presumed Jamaica would be one of the dominoes that followed Cuba’s socialist revolution, the depiction of poverty and gangsters in Kingston shines new light on that period of history.

This book, however, is a serious commitment. Its 700 pages, some in patois and others in dreamscape, have to be respected and nurtured in a quiet space without distraction. Once that journey begins, so will yours. An awesome book.