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Thursday, November 09, 2006
Snip: The Diamond Age
Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age was very good, but I left it incomplete and should pick it up again, if the following paragraph from Wikipedia on a hive-mind technology described in the novel is anything to go by:

Hackworth's life in the meantime also has become more complicated. Upon his arrival in North America, he had been led to an underwater system of tunnels, the abode of the "Drummers," a society whose life consists of drugged trances accompanied by drumbeats. The nano-particles that induce the ecstatic trances actually carry bits of information among the individual Drummer's brains to form an immense network of human thinking capacity that—if used to such purpose—would exceed the capabilities of any existing computer system. The nano-particles pass from body to body through sexual intercourse performed in an orgiastic ritual in which a large number of men pass their semen into a single woman. As a result of the excessive heat-producing nano-activity, the woman's body bursts into flame and is in turn ingested as part of a drink passed around the remaining Drummers to keep the information flowing. After ten years with the Drummers, exactly the duration of his sentence, Hackworth emerges from the underworld of the Drummers and returns to Atlantis/Shanghai. His wife has divorced him, but he is able to re-establish his relationship to his now grown daughter, as he is still looking for the Alchemist. Eventually he discovers that he himself is the mysterious Alchemist, and that he had been sent to the Drummers to utilize their collective mind and to develop the Seed. However, he had stopped shortly before finishing the discovery, and the book leaves the question of the Seed open in the end.
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