Stephenson is a techie, and he's writing for an audience of coders and hackers in Command Line. The idea for this essay began online, when a shortened version of it was posted on Slashdot.org. The book still holds some marks of an e-mail flame gone awry, and some tangents should have been edited to hone his formidable arguments. But unlike similar writers who also discuss technical topics, he doesn't write to exclude; readers who appreciate computing history (like Dealers of Lightning or Fire in the Valley) can easily step into this book.
Stephenson tackles many myths about industry giants in this volume, specifically Apple and Microsoft. By now, every newspaper reader has heard of Microsoft's overbearing business practices, but Stephenson cuts to the heart of new issues for the software giant with a finely sharpened steel blade. Apple fares only a little better as Stephenson (a former Mac user himself) highlights the early steps the company took to prepare for a monopoly within the computer market--and its surprise when this didn't materialize. Linux culture gets a thorough--but fair--skewering, and the strengths of BeOS are touted (although no operating system is nearly close enough to perfection in Stephenson's eyes).
As for the rest of us, who have gladly traded free will and an intellectual understanding of computers for a clutter-free, graphically pleasing interface, Stephenson has thoughts to offer as well. He fully understands the limits nonprogrammers feel in the face of technology (an example being the "blinking 12" problem when your VCR resets itself). Even so, within Command Line he convincingly encourages us as a society to examine the metaphors of technology--simplifications that aren't really much simpler--that we greedily accept. --Jennifer Buckendorff
This is an interesting book, well written and researched. It is almost historical with all the changes that have happened since it was published but there are probably many people... Read morePublished 26 days ago by Francis Larson
Neal Stephenson is a great author if you remember using computers over twenty years ago you will enjoy this book.Published 3 months ago by James W. Ingersoll
A short pithy and often hilarious essay by one of our eras better science fiction writers, coders and journalists. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Reg Nordman
I have always been a Windows user (since 3.1). Up until recent, I made the switch to Linux and haven't looked back. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Chad
This book in an amazing review of the history of computers and programming. Stephenson's writing is, as always, fantastic. I read this book in one sitting, unable to put it down.Published 6 months ago by Thomas