Jonathan Coe is the author of "The Rotters Club," "The Rain Before It Falls," and numerous other books. In "The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim," Coe explores the life of a man who is hooked up to all the latest communication tools but finds himself more or less alone. He travels as a sales rep for a toothbrush company, his wife has left him, his father lives in Australia (which isn't the only way in which he is remote). So Max gets by with acquaintances and the company of the voice on his car's GPS device.
Coe says he wanted to explore the idea of whether the mechanisms by which we connect to each other make us more connected. He came to believe that if you're the same person online as you are off, then no, probably not. But in the book, Maxwell Sim creates a new self, a female self in fact, to visit an online discussion board his wife frequents. He finds her more willing to open up to him in that digital female form than she was with Maxwell as an actual guy.
Also in this program, the iPad 2 officially launches today and so does Austin's South by Southwest Festival. Apple knows opportunity when it sees it. The company has opened a temporary retail store selling iPad 2s.