I know this isn’t a book, but check out this article in the London Review of Books. It’s about the domination of Google, and how it’s feedback system allows it to become more and more intelligent every time we use it. Since I use Google a lot, in a work capacity as well as just random searches, it’s really made me think about what a powerful tool it is, and how impossible life would be now if it were suddenly removed. It also holds some lessons for our own mental wellbeing; every time we click on a link that is below the number one spot, we are showing Google that it got the ranking wrong, and it needs to readjust the information it provides us with. Instead of facing this criticism with sulking, defensiveness or a drop in self confidence, Google learns from the experience. Without these criticisms, it could never have become as intelligent as it is now. All feedback is useful. Everything we experience can teach us something, even if its something which we feel threatened by.
On an entirely unrelated note, I finished the Kraken Wakes. I have to say I didn’t like it as much as I mostly like his books, and found it a bit disappointing. The book focuses on the (admittedly more realistic) element of how humanity would react if there was really an alien invasion. We would be confused, and very slow to react, and react badly, and turn on each other. However the despondent atmosphere makes it hard to enjoy. The slow, bleak loss of hope is probably a more truthful portrayal of the end of the world, however much we (or just me?) like the drama of one final battle, with blazing emotions, and devastating losses. The monotony that uncertainty and futility would create is far more depressing than some grand sacrifice, or bittersweet victory. I read the whole thing waiting for something to happen, and by the time you realise that this is all there is, there has been nothing but emptiness for so long there are no contrasts left. Its why I didn’t like The Road, even though again, I understand that that is the whole point; the desolation of the circumstances is reflected in a tedious narrative where nothing happens, and all emotions are numbed.