Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion Book Review
by Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, Harry Lewis
Witty (Hopefully) Amazon Title: My bits are gone and I want them back!
The authors of Blow to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion cover both new and old technologies and how they relate to todays cultural and political climates. Driving home the history of most of the technologies we can't live without and their tumultuous relationship with the legislative and judicial branches of the American government.
Breakdown of the chapters:
Chapter 1: Digital Explosion: Why Is It Happening, and What Is at Stake? 1
Chapter 2: Naked in the Sunlight: Privacy Lost, Privacy Abandoned 19
Chapter 3: Ghosts in the Machine: Secrets and Surprises of Electronic Documents 73
Chapter 4: Needles in the Haystack: Google and Other Brokers in the Bits Bazaar 109
Chapter 5: Secret Bits: How Codes Became Unbreakable 161
Chapter 6: Balance Toppled: Who Owns the Bits? 195
Chapter 7: You Can’t Say That on the Internet: Guarding the Frontiers of Digital Expression 229
Chapter 8: Bits in the Air: Old Metaphors, New Technologies, and Free Speech 259
Conclusion: After the Explosion 295
All the chapters were well written, informative and flow well together. I felt the authors did a great job breaking down the technical concepts behind the technologies well enough to get the required background (technical but not too technical) and then move into the political discussions of those technologies. The real value of the book was the "Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness" portion of the discussions. They discuss how has the world changed now that we are moving away from paper and everything is in bits. Who owns those bits, what is the government and industry allowed to do with those bits and what about privacy in our lives now that very detailed profiles of people can be generated from those bits (especially since we gave that information away for a few cents off at the register or for some "free service")?
There are plenty of books that discuss the 1's and 0's of the concepts but few I have read that talk about the privacy, governmental or cultural issues that arise from those technologies. Like one of the other reviewers(1) mentioned, plenty of "geez whiz" moments along with plenty of other "I cant believe they did that" moments as well. A great read.