Monday, October 25, 2010

Kevin Kelly's "What Technology Wants"

This was a fine read, but a little oversold by reviewers I'd trusted in the past. Certainly an important read and a valued perspective (Kelly is a former Wired editor, and has a long history of exploring human-technology co-evolution), it's just not as compelling and 'disruptive' as I'd expect from a tech/cultural studies text so highly praised.

In short/more or less, Kelly's hypothesis is that technology precedes and is an extension of our own evolution, with its own trajectory and imperatives. We can help shape this to some modest extent, and must embrace this role. While well argued, he speaks in broader terms than I'd have liked. The text connected most through a chapter on the use of technology by the Amish. Their rationales are far more diverse, complex, nuanced and in flux and than I'd appreciated before, and the book is worth the read for this chapter alone (e.g pneumatic power ok, electricity not ok, cell phones and automobile vans ok under some circumstances). While impressive, his chapters on larger scale dynamics (e.g. the evolution of the cosmos, Moore's law, etc.) left me wanting for a loop to be closed, or a tighter argument.

I was really hoping for something as impressive as Kuhn's 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions'... one of the best and most important books of the 20th C.

Still, high-end steak knives...

From Amazon (link also embedded in image):

No comments: