Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Robbie Posted by Picasa
Technology Matters: Questions to Live With
by David E. Nye
The MIT Press

Technology, historian David Nye writes, is a very recent word, in the sense we use it today--perhaps routinely used only since the 1930s. But what our machines are doing to us has been a deep concern ever since there were machines. Leo Marx wrote beautifully about its impact on the thinking of American writers like Hawthorne and Thoreau in The Machine in the Garden. (Nye cites the author though not this work.) Machine dreams and machine nightmares became central to a lot of English literature from Mary Shelley through Dickens to H.G. Wells, and into the 20th century.

David Nye writes clearly and succinctly about many of the issues that technology raises, from an early 21st century historical perspective. He examines the relationship of technology to nature, cultural diversity, economics and human consciousness and intelligence. You may not always agree with his point of view, but he provides a sound basis for discussion, as well as a fascinating reading experience.

This is a book for more than a season. It goes on my shelf of books on this subject I will return to and refer to for years.