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Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything (1999)

by James Gleick

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Funny. Funny. Funny. From the moment Gleick started talking about fast-working medication for a yeast infection (because only slackers have time for one of those) I knew I would be in for a fun ride. He may go on and on about a topic (the impatience one feels one when the elevator doors do not close fast enough, for example) but his points are valid. It's as if he is holding up a huge mirror and asking us to really look at how we behave when impatience or boredom sets in. Exactly how long does it take before YOU push the "door close" button in an elevator? It's an interesting test.

And when Gleick says "the acceleration of just about everything" he means everything.
A cool element to Faster! is that each chapter is independent of each other and therefore do not need to be read in order. But, something to be aware of - the subject material is a little dated. If he thinks the conveniences of microwaves, television remote controls and synchronized watches are indications of our need-it-now society,what does he now think of what the 21st century has been up to with our texting, smart phones, Twitter accounts and 65 mph toll booths (because who needs to stop driving incessantly on those long road trips?). He mentions computer watches (a la Dick Tracy). Funny how Apple just released their version this past year. Gleick moves on to talk about computer chips embedded in the human body, and why not? We are already comfortable with metal piercing our bodies in the oh so most interesting of places. Why not a computer chip? Gleick brings up photography and the need to see our pictures within the hour. How about the ability to take a picture and share it with the world within seconds ala Instagram and FB? There are so many examples of our world getting faster. What about the need for speed for athletic competition? Doping. Amphetamines. And speaking of drugs, what's that saying about liquor being quicker? It was interesting to think of hard liquor coming about because wine was too slow for the desired reaction to consumption. The list goes on. This was a great eye-opening read & I would love to know what Gleick would say about our need for speed these days. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Aug 13, 2015 |
Funny. Funny. Funny. From the moment Gleick started talking about fast-working medication for a yeast infection (because only slackers have time for one of those) I knew I would be in for a fun ride. He may go on and on about a topic (the impatience one feels one when the elevator doors do not close fast enough, for example) but his points are valid. It's as if he is holding up a huge mirror and asking us to really look at how we behave when impatience or boredom sets in. Exactly how long does it take before YOU push the "door close" button in an elevator? It's an interesting test.

And when Gleick says "the acceleration of just about everything" he means everything.
A cool element to Faster! is that each chapter is independent of each other and therefore do not need to be read in order. But, something to be aware of - the subject material is a little dated. If he thinks the conveniences of microwaves, television remote controls and synchronized watches are indications of our need-it-now society,what does he now think of what the 21st century has been up to with our texting, smart phones, Twitter accounts and 65 mph toll booths (because who needs to stop driving incessantly on those long road trips?). He mentions computer watches (a la Dick Tracy). Funny how Apple just released their version this past year. Gleick moves on to talk about computer chips embedded in the human body, and why not? We are already comfortable with metal piercing our bodies in the oh so most interesting of places. Why not a computer chip? Gleick brings up photography and the need to see our pictures within the hour. How about the ability to take a picture and share it with the world within seconds ala Instagram and FB? There are so many examples of our world getting faster. What about the need for speed for athletic competition? Doping. Amphetamines. And speaking of drugs, what's that saying about liquor being quicker? It was interesting to think of hard liquor coming about because wine was too slow for the desired reaction to consumption. The list goes on. This was a great eye-opening read & I would love to know what Gleick would say about our need for speed these days. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Aug 13, 2015 |
About how everything goes faster and faster. I found the book disappointing. Some people's obsession with having accurate watches is different from being in a hurry. Gleick criticizes value of time calculations, but what is the alternative when evaluating the costs of seatbelts, road safety, etc? He validly criticzes a confusion between saving time and doing more on the part of other authors. Even though the benefits of the accelaration is mentioned at times, they should have figured more prominently. E.g. many of us wants to do more. ( )
  ohernaes | Jun 6, 2014 |
James Gleick considers our modern obsession with time, with subdividing the hours and minutes into smaller and smaller pieces, with cramming as much as possible into every moment, with saving time and spending time. Which is a potentially very interesting subject, but I found this book kind of disappointing. It's jumpy and unfocused, flitting around from topic to topic in a rather superficial way. Possibly this is Gleick attempting to capture the nature of his subject material by echoing it in his writing style, but whatever the motivation, I found the result unsatisfying and often rather tiring. He also, frankly, leaves me with the impression that he cares more about sounding clever and zippy than he does about conveying information or making any kind of coherent point.

Oddly enough, I think the most interesting thing about this volume is in the way that it's dated -- it was originally published in 1999. Some of the social and technological topics it touches on just seem rather quaint now, but it's surprising how often I had the feeling that I was getting a glimpse back at the early days of many trends that have become fundamental parts of our current Internet Age, with all that that's meant for the acceleration of our society and our lives. ( )
1 vote bragan | May 24, 2013 |
A decent read. A few conspicuous anachronisms really dated the writing. As far as I'm concerned James Gleick could write about the mating habits of obscure Amazonian birds and it'd still be worth the effort. The man can write. ( )
  chaosmogony | Apr 27, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
[W]hile the book excels descriptively, it falls short analytically and prescriptively.
added by Katya0133 | editChristian Century, David R. Stewart (Feb 28, 2001)
 
[W]hile it is fascinating to crawl through the fine points of MTV video cutting, even the most sympathetic reader will begin to wonder whether he has anything else to tell us.
added by Katya0133 | editVirginia Quarterly Review (Mar 1, 2000)
 
Gleick doesn't alight long enough on any subject to give it depth.
added by Katya0133 | editTechnology Review, Wade Roush (Jan 1, 2000)
 
In this intelligent and thought-provoking book he addresses the ways in which the modern world saves time, spends it and keeps track of it down to tiny fractions of a second.
added by Katya0133 | editEconomist (Dec 4, 1999)
 
James Gleick's ''Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything'' is nimble, smart, often funny, and -- best of all -- fast.
added by Katya0133 | editNew York Times Book Review, Barbara Ehrenreich (Sep 12, 1999)
 
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Book description
Tegenwoordig moet alles steeds sneller en dankzij de voortschrijdende technologie kán alles ook sneller. Vernuftige uitvindingen als de afstandsbediening, de herhaaltoets op de telefoon, internet en e-mail leveren veel tijdwinst op. Toch houden we steeds minder tijd over - en krijgen we vooral minder rust. De moderne mens gaat gejaagd door het leven, terwijl hij klaagt over tijdgebrek en over wachten. Aan het begin van het nieuwe millennium regeert de haast. In 'Steeds sneller' beschrijft de wetenschapsjournalist James Gleick de paradox van onze tijd: dankzij de techniek zouden we meer tijd moeten krijgen, terwijl we ervaren dat we er steeds minder van hebben. In korte hoofdstukken - want we besteden nog maar 16 minuten per dag aan lezen - belicht Gleick het ontstaan, de gevolgen én de bijwerkingen van een samenleving in de hoogste versnelling. Gleick houdt de moderne maatschappij een spiegel voor en legt haar obsessie met het fenomeen tijd bloot. Want, zo waarschuwt hij, als we niet in staat zijn dit fenomeen te leren begrijpen, eindigen we als slaven en slachtoffers van de tijd.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067977548X, Paperback)

From the bestselling, National Book Award-nominated auhtor of Genius and Chaos, a bracing new work about the accelerating pace of change in today's world.

Most of us suffer some degree of "hurry sickness." a malady that has launched us into the "epoch of the nanosecond," a need-everything-yesterday sphere dominated by cell phones, computers, faxes, and remote controls. Yet for all the hours, minutes, and even seconds being saved, we're still filling our days to the point that we have no time for such basic human activities as eating, sex, and relating to our families. Written with fresh insight and thorough research, Faster is a wise and witty look at a harried world not likely to slow down anytime soon.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:47 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Presents a study of the human fascination with time from a psychological, biological, and cultural perspective, tracing the development of measuring time and exploring ways in which we try to stretch our allotted time.

» see all 4 descriptions

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