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Bandwidth (An Analog Novel)

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Worth reading 😎

At times, I struggled to keep going with the book even though I found the main narrative extremely fascinating. I'm glad I finished and the themes and lessons from the book will stay with me. If you enjoy mainstream fiction novels, you'll probably love Bandwidth. If you're like me and you prefer more history and nonfiction, you're probably going to be disappointed.

A sloppy Bond-ish novel with strong thought-provoking concepts...

I recently read Eliot Peper's newest novel, Bandwidth. I've also read parts of Peper's previous works. Eliot is an emerging near-term sci-fi / action author — I can see his works getting better each time and look forward to more from him over the years.

The good:

Bandwidth touches on some of the most important issues in tech today, namely, privacy control and monopolistic power of social networks. It forces the reader to think about these issues in an oddly more tangible way than when we read of real-life Russian manipulation of elections and other Congressional briefings. I found my mind drifting off to think of how individual developers at the biggest tech companies really could do many of the manipulative tactics discussed in the book. It also reinforced the notion that it can be highly dangerous to have activist individuals (almost all of Silicon Valley) at the controls of algorithms and feeds that are used by hundreds of millions of people every single day.

Digging into the ethics and dynamics of monopolistic social networks is an important topic for us all to understand. As each of us makes daily decisions about how to engage with online networks and sites, Bandwidth can help us make intelligent decisions and prepare us to be armed against potential manipulation. Understanding that everything in our own personal 'feeds' is controlled by other humans (or at least the humans that coded algorithms) is an eye-opening observation.

There's a good chance that you'll finish with a heightened interest in cybersecurity -- and then I recommend reading The Code Book by Simon Singh.

The bad:

Bandwidth is a moderately enjoyable read, but I found it sloppy. There were times that I found myself rolling my eyes to myself as something sounded a little too unbelievable or perhaps a little childish in its sense of adventure. Eliot overuses metaphors. The characters were mostly one-dimensional and not enough of them were developed well. The thing that would have made this much, much better would have been to tell the story from multiple characters perspectives. I finished with no emotional connection with any of them which is a shame because I live in the tech world and should be able to see easier connections here. And lastly, it's not why I decided to read the book, but the romance escapades left a lot to be desired.

Summary:

At times, I struggled to keep going with the book even though I found the main narrative extremely fascinating. I'm glad I finished and the themes and lessons from the book will stay with me. If you enjoy mainstream fiction novels, you'll probably love Bandwidth. If you're like me and you prefer more history and nonfiction, you're probably going to be disappointed.

Reviewed by

Josh is a general partner at Jackson Square Ventures, bringing operating experience as a founding member of oDesk (now Upwork), cofounder at Rev, and head of marketing at Adroll. He loves marketplaces at the early stages when they must deal with the inevitable challenges of the chicken and the egg.

Chapter one

About the author

Eliot Peper writes fast-paced, deeply-researched stories with diverse casts that explore the intersection of technology and society. He is the author of four novels, and The Uncommon Series. His writing has appeared in Harvard Business Review, TechCrunch, and the Chicago Review of Books. view profile

Published on May 01, 2018

Published by 47North

30000 words

Genre: Thriller & Suspense

Reviewed by