I just finished this one over the weekend. I’m really surprised at how quickly I got through it; it’s really a very short read (my edition was 217 pages from the start to the afterward, and it’s not exactly dense, textbook like reading).
I only have two complaints about this book: First, some of the information regarding the internet is slightly outdated, but that’s understandable since the original version of the book was published in 1998, and the updated afterward in 2007. Still, I think that the majority of people who would be drawn to this book would still remember those earlier days of computers and internet that are mentioned, and can draw their own parallels to the present day (in fact, it sort of supports some of the points in the book made about the instantaneous nature of information after the invention of the telegraph and the need to always have the newest news, right away).
Secondly, it depicts a rather one-sided view of many of the key personages involved int he development of this technology. The thing in particular that niggled was that Thomas Edison is hailed as a genius and a hero, single handedly rocketing telegraphic technology into the modern age, and doing so with the awe and respect of all around him.
I’ve read a bit about Edison before, and he was not a nice man–he was obsessed with his patents and copyrights, treated his workers poorly, and was known to resort to some pretty underhanded tricks to undermine (or at least give the appearance of discrediting) his competitors. It made me wonder what other untold stories might be lurking if I were to individually research the various names mentioned in the book, and if the story of the telegraph would read any different for the information.
Those are fairly minor points, however, and I did enjoy the book overall and found it to be very informative. I know that when I first mentioned reading this book, it garnered a lot of interest here on the blog. Did anyone else pick it up?