Makers – Review

I don’t read much fiction but I must say I truly enjoyed Cory Doctorow’s Makers, set in the near distant future. It is neither techno-utopian nor dystopian. Doctorow has matured as a writer since Eastern Standard Tribe, an interesting novel but lacking the depth of characters and storyline of Makers. I think it’s also better than the more recent Little Brother, which is oriented more to young adults but is still a good read.

The novel, told from the future, includes human drama as well as several business plans and their unfolding. It’s a business book written as fiction and is better than most business plans I’ve read. I’ve also learned more from this book. Doctorow delves just deep enough into the future of open source, crowd-sourcing, personal video surveillance and other current trends to give some idea of their large scale potential. However, it’s not so deep that it detracts from the story, which includes some interesting and complex characters. Here’s Lester, one of the protagonists and a real “maker”, talking about the constraints of working inside a large corporation:

“Working here. They said that they wanted me to come in and help them turn the place around, help them reinvent themselves. Be nimble. Shake things up. But it’s like wrestling a tar-baby. You push, you get stuck. You argue for something better and they tell you to write a report, then no one reads the report. You try to get an experimental service running and no one will reconfigure the firewall. Turn the place around?” He snorted. “It’s like turning around a battleship by tapping it on the nose with a toothpick.”

I purchased the book, as the form factor was best for a 400 page novel, though you can download it or read it online as well.

4 Responses to “Makers – Review”

  1. Aaron

    It’s funny you’re reading this book, Harold. My wife and I are reading it also (after she referred it to me). She checked it out from the local library, I picked it up from Amazon on the Kindle app, started reading… and then I referred my team to Doctorow’s site to download in the format they prefer.

    Viral reading is the new black.

    • Harold Jarche

      Now I’ll have to pass my hard copy to somebody else to continue the virus ;) Must say I like having the online text version as reference and to copy/paste to the blog and elsewhere. Cory understands the digital verse and he’s still made money from both of us!

  2. Brett

    Harold,

    You might also enjoy a couple of books I read this year by Daniel Suarez – Daemon, and the sequel Freedom(tm). Sounds very much in the same vein, pulling in ideas from the maker community, the Mesh, the Defense of Food, and MMO gaming via augmented reality. Pure fiction, with a hint of “yeah, I can see that happening.”

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