A recommended supplement for NRO’s “‘No Wi-Fi…”

…more fully, ‘No Wi-Fi’: The Real Sign of Our Times, which is an interesting look at the origins of and reasons for our steadily-expanding ad hoc digital distributed network.  Anyway, if you’d like a look at what the world might have looked like if things had gone differently, check out Charlie Stross’s and Cory Doctorow’s alt-history “Unwirer.” Admittedly, the story takes as its divergence point the copyright wars of the 1990s instead of the regulatory decisions of the 1980s; also admittedly, the authors’ own political biases are entertaining to see when they’re not being painful to read.  Still, not a bad reminder that there was never any guarantee that we were going to have this wireless world.


  • Skip says:

    Stross I can read, but man, Doctorow is usually too painful to take because underneath his political screeds he’s just not a very good writer. I can’t think of anything of his I’ve read where, at the end, I didn’t just want those hours of my life back so mostly I just say “no” these days to his stuff.

    But it is interesting to think about how things might have turned out differently – what if Linus Torvalds hadn’t decided to write a unix clone? I mean, sure, the FSF had been working on their kernel for a few years at that point, but they were years away from anything usable, and anything they released was going to be so steeped in socialist rhetoric that businesses would have avoided it like the plague, it would have just been a footnote. And the web revolution has basically been driven by cheap linux boxes, which have let startups innovate at low cost.

  • Rob Crawford says:

    Yes, things would be *vastly* different without Torvalds — and without Monty Widenius, who wrote MySQL.

  • Wombat-socho says:

    I can do no better than to quote one of the e2 guys on Doctorow:
    “Also, Cory Doctorow is the Omega Asshole. I seriously believe this. He may be the worst person alive. I read some BoingBoing sh!t, I feel ready to embrace Robert Mugabe in a spirit of brotherhood.”

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