Tempo Review on BoingBoing by Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow has a thoughtful review of the book up at BoingBoing.

But I’ve just picked it up again, and finished it. Why? Because I kept on referring to it in discussions — all sorts of discussions. A critical analysis of a friend’s manuscript for a new book on security; a talk with my agent about the plot of an upcoming novel; a discussion of economics and bubbles; a practical political planning session for an upcoming debate at a party conference. Tempo had stimulated a lot of thinking for me, and I thought it deserved finishing.

So I’ve finished it, and while I very rarely bother to post about books that I can’t wholeheartedly recommend (see “life’s too short,” above), I find myself driven to post a rare mixed review. Tempo may be the most fascinating book whose thesis I couldn’t entirely grasp and whose author I couldn’t wholly follow that I’ve ever read.

Like many other readers, Cory appears to have found the book rather dense, but worth finishing.

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About Tempo


  1. My experience was similar to Doctorow’s – it didn’t quite gel.

    Also, one of the comments – “it’s an 800 page book in 150 pages” – was dead on.

    One other disappointment – your blog “voice” – which I quite enjoy – did not really come through in the book. In book form, your style was more dry and academic, which made the reading harder.

    However, reading Tempo inspired me to read the Boyd autobiography, and now Tempo makes a _little_ more sense.

    Also, I now recognize that my multi-year struggle learning to play the guitar looks like a Freyteg Triangle, where I keep getting stuck in the Heavy Lift.

    So some of it has sunk in, and I’ll probably read it again. And I keep reading the blogs, too.

  2. Venkat – I was looking at your blog a lot a while back and then, somehow forgot about it. I’m meeting Dan Pink tomorrow, as it turns out, and my research on his book “Drive” brought me back to Ribbonfarm. The point of my comment is this, Doctorow’s description of your book as one “whose thesis I couldn’t entirely grasp and whose author I couldn’t wholly follow” described my own experience reading your writing/thinking, which I find both profound and puzzling. Keep up the good work, comrade!