Magazine article The New Yorker

On the Dot

Magazine article The New Yorker

On the Dot

Article excerpt

The rise of the information age looked like a revolution partly because it created an elite from the previously unheralded ranks of programmers and gamers. Shawn Fanning, who spent part of his childhood in the welfare system and part in a foster home before inventing the file-sharing software Napster as a Northeastern University undergraduate, is the unlikely hero of Joseph Menn's ALL THE RAVE: THE RISE AND FALL OF SHAWN FANNING'S NAPSTER (Crown). Menn's Fanning, bright and soft-spoken, displays admirable loyalty to those who supported him early on, and sometimes too much loyalty--his uncle John, a surrogate father who gave him his first computer, managed to grab a seventy-per-cent stake in the company and foiled any possible settlement with the record industry.

John Romero, one of the minds behind the popular combat video games Doom and Quake, was also shaped by an early experience with a father figure: when he was eleven, his stepfather discovered him at a pizza parlor playing video games and smashed his face into the machine. …

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