REVIEW: Earthweb

James Ganong (
Mon, 10 May 1999 03:38:59 -0700 (PDT)

I just finished Earthweb (I got it from Amazon as soon as I read about its release here; thank you!). Overall, I found it highly enjoyable. It's a great novel of ideas, esp. ideas that we frequently discuss on the list; featured
prominently are:

private law enforcement agencies
collaborative filtering
idea futures
fees for unsolicited email
credibility ratings for web postings
free-market incentives for research
private currencies
widespread encryption & surveillance tech

Background stuff mentioned but not expanded upon:

the demise of Microsoft
the demise of the Federal govt in "The
Entitlement Crash"
privatization of most govt functions
knowledge agents

Sequels are a definite & welcome (by me) possibility.

The story moves pretty quickly (all the action takes place over a month) & only occasionally lapses into long expositions on various ideas, usually justified in the context of the scene in question. I must admit some of the characters seemed a bit 2-dimensional to me, but not enough to
detract from my enjoyment.

Things I didn't see that surprised me:

not a single mention of nanotech
no mention of life-extension (2 characters are centenarians, but it's not clear how unusual this is)
not much in the way of biotech

Since the novel is set approximately 50-60 years in the future, I suspect most on this list would expect these things to be well
along in their development by then. A curious omission, but not really detrimental to the story.

Though it's probably preaching to the choir, I recommend this book to all on the list.