Reading the street
Like many others, I was the grateful recipient of a Kindle this Christmas. I’m enjoying having such a lightweight reading device and I’m really enjoying the near-ubiquitous free connectivity that comes with the 3G version.
I can’t quite bring myself to go on a spending spree for overpriced DRM’d books with shoddy layout and character encoding, so I’ve been getting into the swing of things with the freely-available works of Cory Doctorow. I thoroughly enjoyed For The Win—actually, I read that one on my iPod Touch—and I just finished Makers on the Kindle.
The plot rambles somewhat but it’s still an entertaining near-future scenario of hardware hackers creating and destroying entire business models through the ever-decreasing cost and ever-increasing power of street-level technology.
Cracking open the case of a particularly convincing handset, he offers advice on identifying a fake: a hologram stuck on the phone’s battery is usually a good indication that the product is genuine. Two minutes later, Chipchase approaches another stall. The shopkeeper, a middle-aged woman, leans forward and offers an enormous roll of hologram stickers.
Chipchase, mouth agape, takes out the Canon 5D camera that he uses to catalogue almost everything he sees. “What are these for?” he asks, firing off a dozen photographs in quick succession. “You stick them on batteries to make them look real,” she says, with a shrug. Chipchase smiles, revelling in the discovery. “I love this!” he yelps in delight, and thanks the shopkeeper before heading off to examine the next stall.
That isn’t a passage from Makers. That’s from a Wired magazine article by Bobbie: a profile of Jan Chipchase and his predilection for Shanzai; counterfeit electronic goods on the streets of Shanghai …not unlike the Bambook Kindle clone.