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How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made…
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How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World (2014)

by Steven Johnson

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Through the history of Glass, Cold, Sound, Clean, Time and Light, the author helps us to see behind our everyday conveniences. He used the history of these things to show how ideas take root and how they lead to products and inventions never dreamed of by the original inventor. I found this a very interesting read, tracing the history of things we take for granted now and finding the little threads of ideas which brought us to where we are.

"You don't need to know any of these things to tell the time now, but that's the way progress works; the more we build up these vast repositories of scientific and technological understanding, the more we conceal them. Your mind is silently assisted by all that knowledge each time you check your phone to see what time it is, but the knowledge itself is hidden."

I think that is a very important statement of the human experience and how much our future is determined by the past. In addition to making me say, "Wow!" this book also led me to think and ponder on the human condition without leading me to conclusions, something I always enjoy. ( )
  MrsLee | Jan 22, 2017 |
Excellent way to look at history. Johnson takes sic topics; glass, cold, sound, clean, time and light and develops their empact on earth from beginnings to now. Each topic moves through the inventors and thinkers who developed or enhanced their role. Example would be the whale oil dug out of the brains of sperm whales in the 1800 for produce a better candle and light and now unused so that the whale continues to be .Wonderful way to look at the history of humans. Recommended for both teenagers and adults. ( )
  oldbookswine | Jan 15, 2017 |
Glass, cold, sound, clean, time, and light - these are the six innovations that Steven Johnson describes in his book about how we got to now. These aren't the innovations that first popped to my mind when I started listening to this book, but Johnson deftly shows how inventions like cold or time enabled so many other seemingly unrelated inventions. ( )
  porch_reader | Nov 18, 2016 |
This book reminded me of Connections, the PBS series by James Burke in (I just looked it up) 1978. (I can't believe it was that long ago.) Apparently, How We Got to Now is also a TV series. (I didn't know this when I picked up the book. I pretty much gave up on TV about 15 years ago. Books are SO much better - and there's no commercials.) Anyway, like Burke's Connections, this book shows how certain inventions led to others, and ended up changing the world. It's informative and entertaining. I learned stuff. That, along with the good writing, earns it full marks from me. ( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
A concise and fascinating history of glass, cold (not just refrigeration), sound, clean, time and light. And up there with Bill Bryson's Home for an amazing amount of info about things I just take for granted. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
While we appreciate it in the abstract, few of us pause to grasp the miracles of modern life, from artificial light to air conditioning, as Steven Johnson puts it in the excellent How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, “how amazing it is that we drink water from a tap and never once worry about dying forty-eight hours later from cholera.” Understanding how these everyday marvels first came to be, then came to be taken for granted, not only allows us to see our familiar world with new eyes — something we are wired not to do — but also lets us appreciate the remarkable creative lineage behind even the most mundane of technologies underpinning modern life.
 
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For Jane, who no doubt expected a three-volume
treatise on nineteenth-century whaling
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(Introduction) A little more than two decades ago, the Mexican-American artist and philosopher Manuel De Landa published a strange and wonderful book called War in the Age of Intelligent Machines.
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