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Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte

Being Digital (original 1995; edition 1996)

by Nicholas Negroponte

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1,400177,927 (3.49)5
Title:Being Digital
Authors:Nicholas Negroponte
Info:Vintage (1996), Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library

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Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte (1995)



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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
This guy absolutely nails it. Written in 1995, and absolutely as relevant today as it was then. Everything he talks about has come to fruition. It's worth reading again every 5-10 years. ( )
  heradas | May 31, 2015 |
From OCLC WorldCat
In lively, mordantly witty prose, Negroponte decodes the mysteries--and debunks the hype--surrounding bandwidth, multimedia, virtual reality, and the Internet, and explains why such touted innovations as the fax and the CD-ROM are likely to go the way of the BetaMax. "Succinct and readable. ... If you suffer from digital anxiety ... here is a book that lays it all out for you."--Newsday.
  COREEducation | Jan 14, 2015 |
"Mass media will be redefined by systems for transmitting and receiving personalized information and entertainment. Schools will change to become more like museums and playgrounds for children to assemble ideas and socialize with other children all over the world. The digital planet will look and feel like the head of a pin." (6)

"As we interconnect ourselves, man of the values of a nation state will give way to those of both larger and smaller electronic communities. We will socialize in digital neighborhoods in which physical space will be irrelevant and time will play a different role. Twenty years from now, when you look out a window, what you see may be five thousand miles and six time zones away. When you watch an hour of television, it may have been delivered to your home in less than a second." (7)

There is hope for optimism.

"The access, the mobility, and the ability to effect change are what will make the future so different from the present." (231)
  yapdates | Nov 19, 2014 |

I recall buying this as soon as it came out in paperback, loving it at the time, and starting to call myself a “cybrarian” (what can I say: I was at Library School at the time). This book was written just as the digital revolution was starting off. As a point of comparison, at this stage I had my own email account, had text-only internet access at University, and was a member of a few listservs. Negroponte was at the MIT Media Lab, working on cutting edge technology. In this book, he set out his stall as to the uses of the digital features that were just then being developed, and predicted the near and far future. This book had a big effect on me, helping me embrace “digital” more in a world where library studies were being pulled in two directions.

I guessed it would be a very different reading experience now, and so it was. But fascinating!

So, what didn’t happen? Negroponte’s computers-in-a-watch … well, that is not ubiquitous, but the computers in our mobile phones are analogous, I think. And we still don’t have nine-inch hologram personal assistants running around on our actual desktops (what a shame – although mine would trip over the piles of paper and books on my desk!). And I think CD-Roms probably disappeared a bit more quickly than he thought.

He predicted ebooks, but thought they would be on actual paper, and predicted newspapers in that format, too (also, oddly, I recall distinctly reading about e-ink that switched round to present new words on flexible pages when a chip was inserted into an ebook spine. Couldn’t find that in the book this time, even after going through the index. I wonder if I read that in an article he wrote). And the iPad – “multimedia will become more book-like, something with which you can curl up in bed”. He accurately predicted in-car GPS systems, although doubted that they would have voice commands, owing to the fear of litigation (they do have voice commands in the US, right?). And the most important one, to my mind, was his prediction of borderless, 24-hour working. That’s certainly come true for me!

What’s changed? Remember dial-up? It was amazing in 1996 to have a list of numbers allowing you to connect to the Net from any country in the world. Yes, a list of phone numbers, and 90 different phone jacks with which to connect your computer in different countries. Hotel guides were starting to publish information on which chains didn’t allow you to unplug their phones and plug in your modems! That feels like another world, doesn’t it!

And what hasn’t changed. Amusingly, he talks about people claiming they are not “computer literate” after the “debilitating” battle to print a document off. Well, has that really changed … ?!

It was truly fascinating to read this from the other side of the digital revolution, and I am so glad I did so. ( )
1 vote LyzzyBee | Oct 2, 2012 |
15 years on, this is an interesting read if only to see how many predictions came to fruition. Almost spooky really. Not gonna spoil it by saying which ones, but would recommend to geeks & historians alike. ( )
  TeeMcp | Apr 20, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679762906, Paperback)

As the founder of MIT's Media Lab and a popular columnist for Wired, Nicholas Negroponte has amassed a following of dedicated readers. Negroponte's fans will want to get a copy of Being Digital, which is an edited version of the 18 articles he wrote for Wired about "being digital."

Negroponte's text is mostly a history of media technology rather than a set of predictions for future technologies. In the beginning, he describes the evolution of CD-ROMs, multimedia, hypermedia, HDTV (high-definition television), and more. The section on interfaces is informative, offering an up-to-date history on visual interfaces, graphics, virtual reality (VR), holograms, teleconferencing hardware, the mouse and touch-sensitive interfaces, and speech recognition.

In the last chapter and the epilogue, Negroponte offers visionary insight on what "being digital" means for our future. Negroponte praises computers for their educational value but recognizes certain dangers of technological advances, such as increased software and data piracy and huge shifts in our job market that will require workers to transfer their skills to the digital medium. Overall, Being Digital provides an informative history of the rise of technology and some interesting predictions for its future.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:14 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In lively, mordantly witty prose, Negroponte decodes the mysteries--and debunks the hype--surrounding bandwidth, multimedia, virtual reality, and the Internet, and explains why such touted innovations as the fax and the CD-ROM are likely to go the way of the BetaMax. "Succinct and readable. ... If you suffer from digital anxiety ... here is a book that lays it all out for you."--Newsday.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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