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|The function of the Digital Babylon: How the Geeks, the
Suits, and the Ponytails Fought to Bring Hollywood to the Internet book
is a sold one, examine the enormous and highly profitable-albeit
unlikely-marriage between image conscious Hollywood and image clueless
Silicon Valley. The method chosen by Digital Babylon authors John
Geirland and Eva Sonesh-Kedar is to recant the play-by-play development of a
few of the early attempts at online entertainment.
Unfortunately, the book not only fails to effectively examine the relationship between Hollywood and technology as the title may imply, it fails to effectively or coherently tell the story of its subjects. What the book does do is mire the reader down with a seemingly endless stream of names and companies, presented in a non-linear and unconnected fashion. Major developments in the story such as how "The Spot" creator Scott Zakarin's first small industrial film company attracted the financing of NBC president were never explained, while the reader is bombarded with irrelevant information such as the apartment in which Zakarin and his partner Troy Bolotnick planned their project was "located next door to the Barrington branch of the U. S. Post Office and only a few blocks from the condo where Nicole Simpson had her last Ben & Jerry's... " While these details do anchor the book in reality, their sheer volume in the book is distracting.
The very message that the book purports to convey, that the collaboration between Internet and entertainment was established in a lightning quick and often chaotic atmosphere, is communicated only to the reader who has the patience and tenacity to persevere through all the minute and insignificant details within which the message is encrypted.
It should not be assumed, however, that every reader will be overwhelmed by the writing offered up by Geirland and Sonesh-Kedar. Reader's who are/were involved with or interested in Internet entertainment will certainly enjoy reading this detailed history of the venture, stressing detailed, but not about the storyline.
And, for anyone who was lucky enough to have a front row seat for the auspicious first date between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, this book is sure to provide a shameless walk down memory lane.
For all other prospective readers, the book's chaotic style makes it too much work for someone casually interested in its topic. Couple that with the book's narrow subject and 1999 date, and I recommend getting the book from the library so you can return it after the first few pages bore you. Even Zakarin's wife doesn’t give the book a five-star rating at Amazon.
John Zukowski, provides strategic Java consulting with JZ Ventures, Inc. through objective commentary on Java-related technologies, mentoring, training and curriculum development, technical editing, and software architecture and development. He received a B.S. in computer science and mathematics from Northeastern University and an M.S. in computer science from Johns Hopkins University.