This book comes with impressive credentials. The authors have excellent technology and foreign policy experience. The pair of quotes on the cover are from people with their own brilliance too – Richard Branson and Walter Isaacson. The subject – how digital technology is changing nearly every aspect of our life – is one that fascinates me. So why did I feel getting to the end of it was all rather a slog?
Because it’s written in a very flat style. The prose is plain – in a workmanlike rather than Ernest Hemingway sense. The colourful examples are rare and the personal stories to engage the reader few and far between. It’s almost as if they had read a Malcolm Gladwell book and gone for a writing style as far different from him as possible.
The other reason that I found it a bit of a slog is that there is nothing much very new in their forecasting. If you’ve already consumed many words on this topic, it is mostly all very familiar territory. Overall, the book is rather like a large collection of expert, slightly dry, op-ed pieces on the digital world strung together. Each individually is well worth a read, but collectively you would hope for a bit more spark and liveliness.
Conversely, if you haven’t, then the book certainly does a good job at thoroughly covering all the angles and mentioning all the main trends. It is also interesting to read what two people so deeply immersed in Google have to say about privacy (it’s a crucial part of the future, they argue).
In summary then, the book is a comprehensive summary of existing predictions and trends rather than something that will wow you with original insight or fascinate you with the way the tale is told.