As the election starts to go off the rails: reading _Infomocracy_

A major election sees chaos creeping in, and a sense of mingled panic and dread is in the air.  Of course I’m talking about the near future of Infomocracy, as our reading continues.

Older, InformocracyRight now I’m halfway in. With this post I’ll share notes covering the text since my previous post.  Once again I’ll offer a plot summary, then observations about the world, followed by lit prof-style notes.

Before I start, let me share a news item.  While reading and preparing notes for this section of the novel, I enjoyed seeing some news items in that light. For example, Politico is launching a for-pay service for political data:

The project, called DataPoint, made its official debut yesterday, offering searchable, sortable, downloadable infographics that explain the worlds of policy, healthcare, current events, money and the elections.

1: The Plot So Far

We continue to follow our three main characters.  Two start a relationship with each other. In this section of the novel several major political debate occur, with leading governments’ candidates presenting.  Yoriko becomes a more important character.  A major earthquake strikes.  Political assassinations are attempted.

2: The World Builds

Overall, I’m pleased at how global and non-US-Euro the plot is so far.  That includes the presence of untranslated words from non-English languages (126, 137).

Information runs the debates (84).  People can display their medical information publicly, including birth control and disease data (94).  Information really relies on people doing work, rather than AI (for example, 112).

Politics: We learn about more governments: AllFor1 (83); ChouKawaii “a single-centenal government specializing in fanfic and cute characters” (108); Anarchy, “the radical antielection group” (168). The splendidly named Reginald Baste represents YouGov (152). We learn more about the mantle tunnels, which could link Tokyo with Taipei (88) or Paris with Dakar (149).  Domaine accuses Information of exploiting child labor (144).

Economics: people would like for startups to succeed, but entrenched companies just keep winning (87).

History: the North Korea we now know “fell” at some point, amidst “missile strikes” (108).

Technology: people can run software offline for privacy (82).  There is a “new blood glitter that subtly highlights the veins beneath the skin, apparently the latest craze of the uberrich” (89).  3d printers still exist (94).  There are “nuclear-powered water heaters and food-cookers” (97), along with self-heating jackets (114).  Speaking of clothing, people can design clothing ideas, then request bids from designers (132).  Security can ask for users to identify themselves in “both audio and visual” media (121).  People can see other people using digital information based on their eye movements (158).

We still don’t know what a crow is, although it seems like a plane/helicopter/balloon mix.  Related to it is the tsubame, which is even more lightly described, but the name means “barn swallow” in Japanese (138).  Is it a smaller plane?

3: A Lit Prof Ponders

Some very nice sentences, like: “Knowing that her [Mishima’s] desire for isolation is unusual has made her sensitive to the social acceptability of acting on it.” (124)

Mishima lives up to her name as a magnetic, leading character, with action hero traits.

The centenal system is under strain, but does respond well to the earthquake.

Things are building up toward the election.

What do you make of it so far?

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