8W8--GLOBAL SPACE TRIBES: by Ralf Hirt

8W8--GLOBAL SPACE TRIBES:

A Postmodern Journey Through Globalization in the Internet Age Powered by the World Modeling Engine 8W8
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fifteen of globalization’s children collaborate to design a piece of software that renders visible the invisible networks of the Internet Age.

Readers should be warned at the outset that this is no novel in the conventional sense, but a Socratic dialogue for the early 21st century of globalization. That dialogue is sparked when Oskar Feller, an IT journalist and international jet-setter, gazes out of an airplane window at the nighttime lights of the cities of Belgium far below. Oskar, or “OK Fellow” as his friends call him, feels a sense of frustration that those city lights can’t tell him much about the people they serve: What are their incomes? Where do they work? What do they believe in? How many are BMW-motorcycle enthusiasts like him? To get answers to questions like these on a global scale, Oskar enlists help from his 14 fellow members of the Golden Sky, a loosely coalesced think-tank whose membership represents various economic, political, scientific and cultural professions. At the palatial Hawaiian home of Internet entrepreneur Winston Chee, the 15 “Golden Skyers” collaboratively give birth to the computer-modeling program dubbed “8W8” (a strange-seeming choice of name, until they explain that “eight” is an auspicious number in Chinese numerology and “W” stands for “world people”). The notional 8W8 program allows the user to enter the cockpit of a virtual helicopter and tour a dynamic landscape representing not Earth’s geography, but its invisible demographic, economic, environmental and even religious characteristics. The author’s decision to present this intriguing concept as a novel is an idiosyncratic one, making the book feel at times like a tug-of-war between an inventor and a novelist.

At its best, 8W8-Global Space Tribes provides a gentle, relatively harmless way to introduce the reader to a bevy of interesting new terms and concepts; at its worst, it comes off as the novelization of a software user’s manual.

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-9799549-1-7
Program: Kirkus Indie
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