Cutting-edge technology watchdog Kevin Kelly has done it again. It is no longer silly to think of technology as having a pulse, and the former editor of Wired magazine certainly has his finger on it. In this compelling new view of the many parallels between biological development in humans and humans' development of technology, the interconnectedness of the biosophere and the technium has never been so clear. Supergeeks rejoice, not only for this exciting speculation on what our future holds, but also for the fact that it is narrated by the one and only Paul Boehmer, a terrific Shakespearean actor better known for his role as stranded Vulcan in one of the most beloved eipsodes of Star Trek: Enterprise.
Boehmer gives voice to this deep scientific inquiry with energy and precision. Kelly is keen on researching a breadth of evidences to secure his theory about what technology wants from us, and Boehmer steps lightly through the many lists of supporting examples in a tone that shows just how captivating they are. Did you know that rock ants have a system for calculating the volume of a room, in order determine the appropriate dimensions of the nest they want to build? Did you know that the Amish are in a heated debate over the possible adoption of cell phones? Did you know that a toaster makes decisions? The scope of Kelly's considerations is astounding.
This comprehensive look at technology as a near-living system will shock and delight both luddites and technophiles alike. Kelly's previous major work, Out of Control, was at the top of the Wachowski brothers' required reading list for actors in their Matrix film trilogy. This time around, the first few chapters are almost like watching the evolutionary montage that opens Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Perhaps the futuristic trajectory of Kelly's book is slightly more optimistic and his conclusion somewhat more scientific, but given the mirror of Kubrick's film, Trekkie Paul Boehmer is the perfect choice of narrator for this weirdly wonderful book. Megan Volpert
This provocative book introduces a brand-new view of technology. It suggests that technology as a whole is not a jumble of wires and metal but a living, evolving organism that has its own unconscious needs and tendencies. Kevin Kelly looks out through the eyes of this global technological system to discover "what it wants." He uses vivid examples from the past to trace technology's long course and then follows a dozen trajectories of technology into the near future to project where technology is headed.
This new theory of technology offers three practical lessons: By listening to what technology wants, we can better prepare ourselves and our children for the inevitable technologies to come; by adopting the principles of proaction and engagement, we can steer technologies into their best roles; and by aligning ourselves with the long-term imperatives of this near-living system, we can capture its full gifts.
Written in intelligent and accessible language, this is a fascinating, innovative, and optimistic look at how humanity and technology join to produce increasing opportunities in the world and how technology can give our lives greater meaning.
©2010 Kevin Kelly (P)2010 Tantor
I think the most interesting chapter by far was on Amish hackers, a seemingly contradictory phrase the author invokes to describe some original research he's done interviewing various Amish on how they decide whether to use or reject a particular portion of technology.A disappointing pastiche of New Age ideas layered on regurgitated Jacob Bonowski, Richard Dawkins and James Burke, occasionally invoking flawed logic on pop-science as well. The author enjoys making up new words, such as "technium" for the aggregate of all technology currently in use, as a substitute for actual insight. Ultimately, there really isn't much of a conclusion beyond "think about what technology you decide to embrace".
I'd also like to say... that I found the narrator... especially annoying,... speaking slowly... with lengthy pauses between phrases... in a tone that suggests.... an overdose of Valium. Like daddy reading patiently to a small child. I had to crank the playback up to 2x speed just to avoid falling asleep between sentences.
Small Business Coach and Consultant
This book provides a basic understanding of what technology is and where it's going. In terms of impact on my thinking, it rates in the top dozen books I've read and my personal business library exceeds 800 books at this point. If you are a thinking person who wonders where humanity is going in the short term as well as the long term, I think you'll enjoy this book.
Many insights into the characteristics of technology. Mr. Kelly does a superb job of depicting technology as it's own beast, of having it's own direction. His comparisons of similiar independent inventions and parallels with biological convergent evolution were fascinating. I read this book shortly after reading Nonzero, by Robert Wright, and I felt like the two books were lines exploring the same phenomenon from different angles. The narration was a little strange, it didn't really distract from the ideas in the book, though I think I would have liked it more in print version, or even if the author had read it himself.
The book presents information that is essential for one to understand what is happening. It puts everything (or almost everything) into perspective.
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