The whole Object Lessons series has intrigued me since it was first announced. Both the organizing conceit of aesthetic essays on mundane objects and the approach to the books themselves as objects—the cover designs, the format, etc.—were appealing to me. Rothstein’s Drone is the first of the series I’ve read. I am impressed by the light touch with which he brings contemporary Science and Technology Studies perspectives into a very readable exploration of the role of unmanned aircraft in our culture. I wonder if the drone really is the paradigmatic visual technology of our time. I don’t dispute the notion that the disembodied perspective from above is characteristic. (I spend far too much time revisiting old neighborhoods with Google Earth mapping not to relate to that argument.) It seems that more people experience this perspective through satellite imagery. I suspect the answer is that were are approaching a transition where the increased flexibility and availability of drones over satellites will mark a transition in this regard.
Discovered this afternoon-in-the-life-of-a-hitman short story as a Kindle single while reading through Robin Sloan’s Amazon.com reviews. I agree with Sloan’s take that it’s a wonderful bit of LA writing. It’s also enjoyably brutal, repulsive, and readable.
The first volume of this hadn’t quite caught me, but now that the post-apocalypse world has gained some maturity, I’m in. I guess that confirms that my initial reaction that I didn’t care much about the characters but was excited by the potential of the world-building has held.
All of the elements of Coupland’s work that I appreciate—the juxtaposition of technical jargon and humane empathy, non-linear experimentation, obsession with systems—are here. These formal and thematic traits also happen to make his approach to the medium of the biography a great match for McLuhan’s work. While he clearly feels an intellectual and personal sympathy with McLuhan, there is also critical analysis of the effects of his work. Having been planning on finally reading more than excerpts of McLuhan myself, this was a great way to whet my appetite.