Tuesday, May 4, 2010

World Wide Webmind?

So I FINALLY finished this book last night!  Not because I couldn't get into it or anything like that, but simply I lacked time and I was busy organizing my contest stuff.  I even started geeking out about this book to my dad because I was so in awe and in love!  Just utterly amazing!  I cannot wait to get my hands on the second one! 

Synopsis:Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math-and blind.  Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind.  When a Japanese researcher develops a new signal-processing implant that may give her sight, she jumps at the chance, flying to Tokyo for the operation. But Caitlin's brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online.  once the implant is activated, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the world wide web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes.  While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something-some other- lurking in the background.  And it's getting smarter...

My Review:  I am really going to try very hard to organize my thoughts with this, because frankly if I don't then I am going to start geeking out all over again.  I can honestly say that I have never read a book quite like WWW: Wake before.  It is not simply just a story of a girl who miraculously gains sight in the form of the world wide web.  It has amazing subplots exploring the origin of the conscious mind, politics, hackers, and a chimpanzee hybrid who seems to be the next stage of evolutin in primates.  The plotline is rich and fresh and completely enthralling. 

I adored Caitlin's character.  I felt like I really connected with her.  She's a fellow blogger like myself, and I felt that we shared the same sense of humor and mannerisms.  Yet there were certain aspects of her character that I could never even imagine.  I think having bad eye sight is bad, I can't even imagine being blind.  The fact that Caitlin is a mathmatical genius is also completely beyond me.  :P  In the book ironically enough Caitlin starts reading a book who's title is along the lines of "Originals of the Bicameral Mind."  It is a truly fascinating theory that before 3,000 years ago human beings weren't conscious.  It postulates that the human mind was completely seperate in it's two respective hemispheres.  This explains why narratives like the Illiad and early Bible stories were so flat and the characters lacked any internal reflection.  The reading of this book mirrors the growth of consciousness of what eventually becomes known as Webmind.  Just like human self awareness came without any forewarning, so does Webmind.  It is truly fascinating to think of the origin of the conscious mind, and even more mind boggling to think that random bits of left over code lost in the world wide web could become self aware by natural phenomena known as cellular automa.  As Webmind grew more and more intelligent and began to understand human concepts and ideas I kept routing for it!  As if my little peptalks could actually help.  Haha.  To read about anothers experience of comprehension of such novel ideas is truly uncomparable.  I now appreciate what I know about the world a lot more.  Imagine not knowing what an apple was.  Or to know how to spell apple, but having no preconceptive notions of what an apple meant.  It's just mind boggling!  Okay so I'm geeking out a bit again... I have a feeling that I am forever going to be geeking out over this book. 

The only flaw I could find in this book is the seemingly random sub-plots.  It flashes to China numerous times where human-human cases of avian flu are threatening to expand into a pandemic.  The Chinese government decides that in this case they need to "cut" before they can heal.  They basically cull out a couple hundred thousand of people in order to purge the virus before it spreads.  To cover up the atrocity they inact the Great Firewall (as Chinese hackers so aptly call it)  which shuts down all foreign internet contact with the outside world.  Ironically enough this cut off from the rest of the web actually affects Webmind and it's struggle to comprehend it's new surroundings but that's as far as it ever goes.  Likewise the story of a Chinese hacker/blogger just randomly ends after he is being chased by the cops and he jumps off a museum display and breaks his legs.  There is yet another storyline of a chimp hybrid who chats via webcam with an orangatang.  Hobo, as the scientists call him, also begins to paint one of the scientists.  Primates are incapable of painting representational art, yet Hobo paints her portrait.  Why this is all well and good but  I fail to see how any of these subplots are relevant to the story.  Maybe they're continued in the sequel?  I don't know.  I mean they weren't bad by any means, but it just seems like they led no where and just kind of peetered out. 

Overall a simply amazing read!  I have never in my life felt so ignorant and likewise have never learned so much from reading a novel.  I learned all kinds of nifty facts about the internet! Like Google uses Page Rank to bring up top results and Jagster has a raw feed and doesn't use Page Rank because Page Rank counts the number of times something has been linked to, not how many times the actual site has been visited (or something like that.) Bleh.  Tech speak!  No comprende!  Haha.  Though many things went completely over my head it was still cool and I enjoyed reading it.  Amazing novel!  Cannot wait for more!!!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I added it to my TBR list.