I finally got around to finishing reading Tom Evslin’s e-book hackoff.com – only about 6 months late… but to be clear, it wasn’t because the story wasn’t good but rather the opposite. I couldn’t get into the book because of the delivery method! The story is pretty good – sure it’s not going to be ranked as a literary classic, but it’s entertaining nonetheless (think hardy boys…) . it’s murder mystery story following the story of a dot.com startup during the 1990s Internet bubble as it eventually turns into a dot bomb. Anyone who was there during the craziness will be able to visualize the scenarios of stupid funding, dubious sales tactics, and moronic guidance from bankers and lawyers. The fact that Tom was able to write about all this so well is a testament to his deep experience in the internet wars. The writing is great in that respect.
Where I had difficulty was in trying to keep myself excited enough to just wait around for the next episode. Hackoff.com was delivered as an RSS feed. Each day another episode was delivered with an average of 7 or so episodes making up a chapter. So basically, even if I did read the story one episode per day at a time, it would take over 3 months to finish. I just couldn’t do it! The books is great, but I would probably read a story like this in a week or maybe 2 – so, many times, i was excited to get to the next episode but because it wasn’t available, I’d start reading something else and eventually the thrill wore thin and I lost interest. I eventually didn’t care anymore about what happened to the jackass CEO or his self-righteous co-workers.
But this time around when I read it, I was buried in the story right to the end, although my eyes were killing from staring at the screen for so long and from rolling them at the overly stereotypical references to the mideast (the BBC even took a pot shot…).
I guess some people might think that RSS fiction books are the future, but for me, I’ll stick with the ol’ skool paper ones – they’re easier to read in bed too… now that this one is available in hardcopy, I recommend it!