book review: rule 34

Rule 34 is the kind of Charles Stross book I like. It’s Edinburgh in the future and spammers are dying in graphic ways, seemingly dreamed up in 4chan. Liz Kavanaugh is a police detective whose career is in the shitter, trolling the internet for memes that could become dangerous, and she gets pulled into the investigation.

The book is told in second person for the most part, putting the reader into a lot of different characters’ places including a non-neurotypical mobster with something terrifying in his suitcase. And seriously, though nothing is described with slasher-movie levels of glee at depravity, this is the sort of book that could probably use trigger warnings.

One of the big ideas in this book (that I don’t remember from Halting State, but could very well have been there too) is that Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Rebus and whatever are a load of bollocks in terms of modern criminal investigation. In the future, good detectives are no longer the hyper-observant individual. That’s what computers are for. Good detectives in the future are good managers of people and IT to get all the cogs working together. There’s a lot of great ideas throughout the book, and not decades-old thoughts about how scary Artificial Intelligence would be.

If you don’t like second-person narration and thoughts on the future of criminality and stock manipulation this probably isn’t a great choice for you to read. But if that doesn’t turn you off and you like thinking about Makerbots and the seamy underbelly of future economies, it’s a must-read.

introducing yourself to clients avec suavity

On Thursday I got to do something that falls right in the sweet spot of my skill-set. When I’m doing Koha tech support and querying databases and the like, I’m learning so much as I go, I get the thrill from figuring it out and making something work, not from the elegance, style, grace and aplomb with which I do it. But on Thursday one of my jobs was to write an email.

I take pride in my emails. They are not corporate boringspeak, and I don’t blather on and on about things (except to certain correspondents). I go for well-expressed clarity, with a light tone. This email I had to write was an introduction to a couple of new Koha features my boss had developed for our clients, and it was to let them know we’re now on Twitter (you too can follow @prosentient if you want).
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