Bashing Neal Stephenson's : "In the beginning ... was the command
Avon books, 1999.
A few interesting thesis are being brought up but unfortunately treated
sloppily, e.g. discussing the consequences of digital versus analog media, p.54:
The digital nature of the written word confers on it exceptional stability,
which is why it is the vehicle of choice for extremely important concepts like
the Ten Commandments, the Koran, and the Bill of Rights. This is generally
thought to be a rather good idea. But the messages conveyed by modern
audiovisual media cannot be pegged to any fixed, written set of precepts in
that way and consequently they are free to wander all over the place and
possibly dump loads of crap into people's minds.
As if the digital nature of the written word was not capable of "dumping loads
of crap into people's minds"!
Furthermore the meaning of the term "digital" is not properly defined and
therefore applied confusingly in the previous citation. A suggestion might
be to use the term "discrete" for describing the nature of the written word.
The real conclusion is never drawn even though the author gets pretty close,
e.g. when talking about the Macintosh Programmer's Workshop having a command
line interface instead of a GUI, p. 74:
The first thing that Apple's hackers had done when they'd gotten the MacOS up
and running - probably even before they'd gotten it up and running - was to
recreate the Unix interface, so that they would be able to get some useful
A case of sloppy research, e.g. p. 95:
Minimalist vi vs. maximalist emacs. At that time (1999) vim was already a
flourishing vi clone with a feature set comparable to emacs'.
The author indulges in squiggling his prose, e.g. p. 127:
 ASCII text files, which are in turn wedged into the recesses of the Unix
He spends lengthy passages on how he installed Linux but omitting the
conclusion or what these descriptions are meant to convey.
A few really interesting passages are:
- Comparing Disneyworld Theme parks to GUIs and the implications of
using metaphors. Unfortunately, the subject is not further treated,
e.g. a link to Ted Nelson's flaming comments on metaphors would
definitely fit in here.
- Clarifying the role of PR in shaping the opposing public images of
Microsoft and Apple.
- The role Microsoft plays in enabling the advent of Linux
It is a pity because the book sets out on an interesting and relevant subject!