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Win a copy of Nobody and Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (ends 2/20)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Andy Marino on Technology + Unison Spark Contest

"Andy Marino was born and raised in upstate New York. He spent his childhood orchestrating Lego pirate battles, drawing detailed maps of imaginary video games, and cheating death in Choose Your Own Adventure books. Profoundly influenced by the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and the movie Bloodsport, he started writing his first novel at the age of eleven. Tragically, THE RUNES OF ILLIARM was never completed."

Unison Spark in his first book. It was just recently released!

You can visit Andy at his website or you can follow him through his twitter account!

social stratification at one point, but
how much of it has changed
"With new technology becoming available every year and changing living conditions, do you foresee a growing gap between lower, middle, and upper classes in society? Or do you believe that the price of technology will continue to decrease until the population majority can afford it such as PCs. Or, in the worse-case scenario, will the lower class will be wiped out because they were unable to adapt?"
I love this question because I’m used to thinking about the ever-widening gap between rich and poor in terms of good old buying power and basic household economics—being able to get the things you need to live without going broke. But the breakneck speed of technological advancements has really shaken things up.

information at your fingertips
...if you have the technology
Your question made me think about what it really means to be information-rich. Right now, a homeless person can walk into a public library in most places and explore the internet for free. It’s theoretically possible for a human being who has no possessions, no source of income, no credit, and no home to have a thriving Facebook account, a lively Twitter feed, an active blog, and an email address. The Facebook login page proudly proclaims: It’s free and always will be.

The democratization of the internet (the idea that everyone can contribute) is really cool and important, but what really counts—and what rich and middle-class Americans almost never have to worry about—is access. If you are a rich American in 2011, with the latest gadgets and digital efficiencies at your fingertips, you are automatically information-rich. Everything floating around in cyberspace is yours for the taking, the viewing, the listening. If you are a middle-class American in 2011 your mileage may vary, but chances are you’d have to make a conscious decision to disconnect if you want to make yourself less information-rich. You probably never even think about access problems, except for those times when you forget to charge your battery.

the ripple effects of libraries closing;
not just an inaccessibility of the internet
But consider what it’s like to have to scrounge for access. Libraries and schools close, internet cafes and copy centers charge by the minute. Public wi-fi is everywhere, but it’s useless without a laptop or mobile device.

UNISON SPARK is set in Eastern Seaboard City, the connected sprawl of several present-day cities divided into upper and lower sections by a vast canopy. Residents of the subcanopy slums where Mistletoe (one of the main characters) lives are literally denied access to the signal that allows people to go online and experience Unison, the fabulous and all-encompassing social network. Pirate signals and hand-me-down technology have allowed some people to adapt, but the technology gap is just as wide as the economic gap. Subcanopy residents are information-poor.

the blue-haired Mistletoe
The city in the book might seem like an extreme reflection of our society, but think about what things are like in 2011. The wealth of online information doesn’t mean much if you can’t keep your power on. And hot new gadgets always seem to become more affordable, but that doesn’t matter if you’re going to bed hungry.

Thank you so much Andy! I wasn't expecting such a well-thought out guest post, but it's given me tons to think about.

Now for the fun(er) part, the giveaway! Again, it's rafflecopter so you need to be viewing this specific post to be able to view the form.

Be on the lookout for my review on Unison Spark, which hopefully will be up before the end of today!


  1. This was a very thoughtful and relevant guest post that applies so well with times today. I agree a lot with this post when Andy says that the internet isn't much useful when there's no electricity and power. And what's so terrible about it is that no one is trying to move away from that. Now news agencies, governments, schools and universities are all taking on communication by online access only. It isn't that fair to people without all the proper resources.

  2. Very interesting ideas! I personally don't think that poor w/ no technology will b wiped out, they will have more struggles to overcome. I just recently got a computer and before that I usually spent a lot of time using my schools computers and the libraries. I think the idea that the internet is restricted to the rich is a clever idea!

  3. Super interesting post. I hadn't thought about a lot of these points Andy made, but it's very timely considering all the Occupy Wall Street protests happening around the country. It's all about the dissemination of information/collateral, and that probably has the Powers That Be running scared that they aren't the gatekeepers any longer when it comes to information.


  4. As a whole do believe technology has improved our lives.

    So much knowledge though at one point has to be taken into consideration of whether we're going to far.
    ~ Cassandra Ruiz