The idea was to examine how technology had changed the world in my lifetime, to look at the past, present and future of Moore's Law, its antecedents, and its relations.
A marketing "expert" suggested I call the finished book The Blankenhorn Effect and I did -- to my shame.
Not that I don't like me. I do, very much. Not that I don't like being associated with change. It's my beat. But in retrospect that title was over-the-top. Change isn't about me. I'm just an observer of change.
In the end the book sold only a very few copies. I didn't push it very hard. But it's still available at Google Books, and I still get a regular stream of checks from an online publisher.
These checks inspired me to work up an update, which I have now begun. And I would really like a publisher, although it will have a new title.
I'm rocking right along. I've actually edited half the old draft. I'm planning on adding a few chapters so it's not really halfway done. But the work itself is going amazingly well.
Now for the really important bit.
Each time I start working on a chapter, expecting it to be easy, it turns out that every reference has to be updated, and the differences are stark.
- In the original book I compared the Apple II to a PowerMac, then the company's top of the line desktop. Now I'm looking at an iMac, built into the flat screen, and $500 less than that old Apple II.
- The original conception of Moore's Law -- circuit lines getting closer -- has been faced and overcome. Today's lower-power chips and multi-core chips continue delivering speed increases despite the fact that the distance between circuit lines has declined by just one-quarter in all that time.
- I had nothing on stick memory in the original book, nor on open source. The idea of a Linux laptop, with no moving parts, was science fiction.
In some ways, however, I find I was overly-optimistic:
- The cost of my ISP account has not changed since 1998. I'm paying just as much for bits now as I was then, thanks to Bush era monopoly policies.
- The cost of wireless data has likewise stayed stubbornly high, for the same reason.
- I am really no more productive than before, and not much more productive than I was 25 years ago.
As a result I am adding some new chapters to the book. One is on training or education. One is on software. One is on how Moore's Law can be violated by bad public policy.
The new book will be much better than the old one, and my original vision for it is also coming true.
Thanks to devices like the Kindle, and the iPhone software emulating the Kindle, I can now produce the book as I intended it to be produced -- with hyperlinks built-in. And with an accompanying Web site where the discussion can be continued and enhanced.
What I need is a company that understands this vision and can do what I consider the "scut work." Things like marketing, printing, editing, and publicizing it.
This was always designed to be more than a book. I see it as an interactive exploration of technology's history, and its future. I would like to build this book into a real community, so that I edit rather than write the next edition, and so that it can live beyond what's left of my career.