Reflections are only that, reflections, nothing more nothing less. Often these reflections are related to books I read, but occasionally also other things. These are often written very late, very fast,  using notes from my mobile phone, so the grammar and spelling is horrible.

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Everyone who interested in information technology and its relation to society should pick up a copy of the Daemon by Daniel Suarez. There are so many aspects in the book that it is impossible to mention all of them all.

Depending on your ideology it could be seen as:
1. A call to arms for the 21st century working class, the computer/network expert and gamer, if we look through the eyes of Karl Marx.
2. Or we can see these a new emerging “religion” applying a new ethics with the help of Max Weber.
3. A challenge to a new generation to develop an ideology/theory that can make sense of the world that is emerging in front of our eyes. A ideology/theory that can guide us through the convulsions when our old industrial society leave way for something new.

The pages are filled with reflections about every thing from gaming culture, virus/parasite analogies, the role of major corporations, globalisation to the impact of technology and asymmetric warfare, etc. It is hard not to smile as you reed as it is obvious that Daniel enjoyed writing this book.

The three only really week spots that I had difficulties with (and I feel almost bad writing about them as the book itself covers dozens more themes that are written in a way that is both entertaining and thought provoking. But when something is close to perfect the small imperfections become all the more obvious.

1. My first complain is that too much of the technology parts are written like a ”Data communication for dummies”. Having someone talking about hacking in a way that feels as if they have opened up their laptop for the first time just don’t feel right. The old trick of keeping the “education” for conversations between someone who knows and someone who does not know might have helped, but I would have preferred it to be written in a style where some knowledge could be taken for granted…
2. The technology used is not very interesting (except the sixth sense). I don’t understand why the technology is so boring. It is almost as if it is written with the idea of product placement in a future movie. The boring product placement of Nokia phones in some Bond movies springs to mind. The next book can hopefully bring out some exciting IT, biotech and nanotechnology from the labs.
3. The worst for me however is that the book compromises and too often turns into an old fashion action/agent plot with car chase and traditional murders. I’m sure that Daniel could have written a book that really used the Daemons power over the virtual world as the plot. With the connectivity today almost all of the traditional physical actions could have been avoided. I’m not sure if it is Daniel, the editor or someone that think that a future movie would require some traditional action scenes. Without these physical elements the book would have been amazing (and I think it would been a much more interesting movie as well).

Still the book is really well written and I also like the references at the end of the book to books about themes discussed in the book. I would like to see that in more books.
A theme that I think is particularly interesting and not discussed often enough is the role of democracy in a high-tech society. Our current nation state based democracy model is not well equipped to deal with the rapid changes/challenges that rapid technology result in, especially when this technology is linking the world in a way that make national boarders less important.

When we talk about the limits of democracy we should put things in perspective. Peter Jones (“Vote for Caesar: How the Ancient Greeks and Romans Solved the Problems of Today)
 has reminded us that we have an elective oligarchy, not a democracy. Others would say that we are living in a spectacle. Regardless the role of technology in shaping society, not just on the margin, is something that should be discussed more.