Talkswithwind's Reviews > Rainbows End

Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge
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U 50x66
's review
Sep 26, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: hardsf, sf

A book set in an indeterminate period somewhere between 2020 and 2040. This is a nice character driven book that also explores concepts of what a future would look like. In this future computing is nearly ubiquitous and government surveillance is universal, if they know to look. Meanwhile, the world is a much more creative place.

This was a very nice book. A variety of backgrounds allow the reader to explore different aspects of the world. From net-savvy kids, to recovering Alzheimer's senior citizens adapting to a new world. This plot moves much more on the actions of the characters rather than the goals they have, if that makes sense.

One thing that struck me was Vinge's take on the place of PKI in the future. Specifically, every transaction is certified in some way, and it all devolves onto apex Certificate Authorities (think VeriSign). This concept is involved in key events in the book.

Another thing he posited was what he called the Secure Hardware Environment, mandated by our very own DHS. Sometime in the teens a security layer is mandated in all net-connected devices (which is pretty much everything) that can be used by DHS.

Vinge also takes on intellectual property. Unlike some other authors, the IP system is not thrown out. Rather, a robust system of micropayments is postulated which actually drives the economy. What is now known as "Big Content" apparently died in the teens, replaced by the global micropayment and licensing systems. A much more connected internet, combined with much more ubiquitous computing, creates an environment where creativity flourishes and can get a wide audience without a megacorp being involved for distribution. One might call this a sane copyright system.

If you like near future books, this is a good one. It'll be interesting to see how it ages. I wonder what I'll think of it if I re-read it in 2027?
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