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Faster
 
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James Gleick
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Faster

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3.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,410 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
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 ...more
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Published May 7th 2007 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 1999)
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Paul
Mar 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This book is great. The acceleration of society/culture by way of technology is a subject that interests me greatly, maybe more than any other, so this book was right up my alley. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Faster is, despite its being almost a decade old, it's still entirely relevant. Aside from the lack of talk about iPods an iPhones, it doesn't seem dated at all. This is especially noteworthy considering the book's premise, which claims that a decade, these days, is an eternity.

If t
...more
David Cerruti
Aug 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
After reading Gleick’s Chaos in 1989 and The Information this year, I was anticipating Faster. What a letdown. Chaos and The Information rocked. Faster just plodded along.

In his profile, David Giltinan cites 10 common sources of disappointment in a book. The first is “Failed to match brilliance of author's previous work.” That was certainly the case here. Another distraction is this edition is an audio book, read by Gleick. His reading wasn’t engaging.

The other GR reviews cover the content, ho
...more
Tessa
Jan 07, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An OK book. It's written for a somewhat pop audience and contains few revelations. However there is an interesting section towards the end where he discusses the limits of speed and uses the example of the disabled "close door" buttons on newer skyscraper elevators which exist only so that people can press them and believe that they are causing the doors to close faster when they stay open for the same time regardless.
Lisa
Aug 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: partly-read
Ironically, by the time I read this book it was quite dated and I skimmed it...to save time.
Nick Davies
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Disappointing. I enjoyed 'The Information' by the same author, which I found well-rounded and offering depth and variety. This earlier offering by the American author failed to hold my interest and failed to really deliver on the theme set up quite adequately in the opening fifty or so pages. Gleick speaks at length about the increasing pace of modern life, but doesn't really make a coherent or particularly interesting point about it - it just comes over as a list of examples and facts about how ...more
JefferyG
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Author’s note: This article appeared in the December 1999 issue of Cutter IT Journal.)

Those who could learn the most from James Gleick’s Faster: The Acceleration of Just about Everything are those least likely to learn anything from it, let alone read it. It is unfortunate that Faster is a book which can be read, well—quickly. It brings to mind Francis Bacon’s observation that there are three kinds of books. In the first category are those ephemeral books which need only to be tasted, then the
...more
Thomson Kneeland
This was a great, quick read, and though written in 1999, the ideas and issues presented are as pertinent as ever. An easy essay read on various facets of how technology is shaping society with mutitasking, emails, information overload and a sheer feeling of lack of time as our everyday pace quickens. Ten years later, the world has accelerated far more than even this book portends with flash trading, texting, twitter, digital downloads, and the enormous capacity of the web. But in essence, it is ...more
Cara
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started out not quite impressed with this book. It looked like it was going to be vacant navel-gazing - reminiscing about a time in the past when things were "slower" and therefore better. But I'm glad I stuck with it, because it turned into a very thought-provoking story of what time means to us now. Lots has been written on the increasing speed of technological innovation and how this changes society, but much less has been written about what the effect is of moving fast. The author doesn't ...more
ActionScientist
Oct 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book during a week holiday in the Okavango Swamps (Botswana) at the turn of the Millennium ... after a decade of burning the candle at both ends and living Internet years.

Gleick is one of the small handful of popular science writers able to spin a delightful series of yarns to make his point.

His final big bit of advice: our species needs to learn how to squander copious amounts of time, again. A profound bit of advice, if one can find the time to think about it, let alone implement
...more
Knibbs
Oct 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
At the end I'm not really sure that it said much... But it was a reasonably interesting and engaging read. Inevitable dated parts. Could really have just stuck to the Brainpickings summary but it was a pleasant enough read.
Jeroen
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a certain irony to the short chapters sporting catchy headings in FSTR – as the book cover popularly (or smugly?) has the title. “Prest-o! change-o!” and “On Your Mark, Get Set, Think” are as punny as they come; I'd almost argue they are Buzzfeed titles avant la lettre. In the afterword Gleick assures us that this is a book and, as such, a “slow device”, but you can't help but feel that he has been influenced in its design and structure by the subject matter. I guess there's no helping ...more
Cassie Sands
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Faster is a great compilation and discussion of the ways in which our world is changing, and our perception of our own personal time is changing along with it. Though I read this almost 20 years after it was written, the themes are very much still applicable and this would have been state of the art in 1999.

Sprinkled throughout the text you can see portions that are interrelated, though not necessarily redundant to some of his other works. Some passages are inspired by Chaos, and others I can s
...more
Cara W
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting treatise on time, from how societies starting using time, telling time - then how time became standardized.

Then how societies worked and how everyone is TOO busy - that time is precious and no one gets more of it. How time "saving" and management really came about in 1980's as an overall societal self help phenomena.

All trends still consistent - research mid to late 1990's, published in 1999 - seems a little dated compared to how much "worse" it is with all the digital and electr
...more
Sam
Jan 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pseudointellectual trash. Gleick can and has written much better. Huge disappointment, ranges from preachy to just plain factually wrong at a few points (even after considering the technological developments since it was first published). Would have expected much better from the author of Chaos.
Anita
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even though it was written before smartphones, tablets, facebook, twitter, snapchat and netflix, it is still a very actual description of how we all have gotten so busy. How everything is being time-economized.
Anne-Marie
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People currently alive. And Benjamin Franklin, just because.
Recommended to Anne-Marie by: Found it on a shelf.
Science writing at its finest. This book explains our perception of time, and the ways in which time - or at least our perception of it - has accelerated in the modern age. By the end of the book I was consciously trying to slow things down in my day: simply eat a meal without simultaneously reading or looking at my phone, sit there and do nothing but listen to music, knit quietly, even (gasp!) do nothing for a little bit. It really does make you feel more grounded. Whipping out your phone when ...more
Cynthia K
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I had finished one audio book but was still waiting for another that I had placed on hold. I spotted this at my local library and thought I could use it as part of the 2017 Read Harder Challenge. It met the requirements for task #13 - Read a nonfiction book about technology.
The chapter on the history of watches was quite interesting. Of course, as Gleick moved toward the then-current descriptions of watches circa 1999, I was amused that he accurately predicted the future of timepieces, speculati
...more
Jay
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, 2013
I read this book while eating various meals, while sitting in the car waiting for a school bus to arrive, while brushing my teeth (even while flossing), while also being a spectator at various events, and to fill in many many different odd moments that came along (for I am never without a book). I layered the reading of this book with many different experiences, making more of my minutes and seconds since I can't erase any more of my free time... there just isn't any left. While reading this boo ...more
Emily
Feb 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I made my piece about the Heart, I read a lot of books about it and enjoyed little bits of all of them. Then, I read one that summed it all up and seemed to get at exactly many of the things I wanted to explore. (Louisa Young's Book of the Heart, just in case you're curious) Faster is THAT book but for Time.
In pretty much every chapter I found myself thinking, "Yes! That's - yes! I hadn't thought of things quite like that. Damn!" All this time I was thinking I wanted to make a piece about
...more
Chelsea
I just finished reading Faster: The Acceleration of Just About
Everything by James Gleick. (Ironically enough, not a quick read.) The basic thesis of the book is that our modern culture is obsessed with the notion of speed and the acceleration of everyday actions is a driving force in our technological and even political developments. Each chapter takes an aspect, object or idea and examines its development in context. Elevators, watches, cars, commercials, almost everything is touched on. He dis
...more
David Everling
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tom Everling
On time, our experience and measure of it, and particularly our accelerating life perspective, propelled by equally exponential technological advance. Written in 1999, the book loses little strength of argument since the reader can easily mentally update the most recent exemplar technologies and statistics (e.g. # of websites on topic x). Indeed, the intervening decade actually bolsters Gleick's point on progress, as the trends described herein have proven relatively robust and astute, becoming ...more
Chris Overstreet
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starts off very interesting, but then sort of drags and gets a bit repetitive (began with a 5 star rating; then fell to a 3 due to my waning interest; hence 4 stars). It did make me stop and think about time, though. Like, really philosophically think about it. How do I (or we as society) allocate it? How does our culture view time compared to others around the world? Is leisure time a passive or active thing? Should we really brag about working long hours?

The main take-away I took from the auth
...more
Joe
Oct 18, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics
I was tricked! I thought this was a book about physics (with the alluring word "acceleration" in the title), but it turned out to be more social and behavioral science than anything else. I still really enjoyed it though, as James Gleick once again proved his versatility as a writer.

All the little nuances, the winks and nods to the quirkiest of human predilections and paranoias, were what made this book such a joy to read. And that seems to be Gleick's style, which works in any genre.

My inner j
...more
Summer
Jan 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Although some sections of the book were dated to the point of irrelevance, the majority of the book was thought-provoking and still applicable. There is even an author's note at the end stating that a book about our ever increasing dependence on technology and increasing the speed of our lives became outdated in the months between the time it was written and the time it was published. Still, I found the ideas the author discussed- about our culture's need for speed and how it has spawned our col ...more
Liz
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite this book showing its age in a manner I did not strictly anticipate (though obviously should have), I really enjoyed Gleick's examination of the role of time in our lives. And, I admit, there was something strangely fun about imagining the world before the turn of the millenium and 9/11 and the rebirth of Apple and the smartphone and...you get the idea. It made extrapolating his points all the more exciting, because you could see how his thoughts relate to the future as it is now.
Also, G
...more
Theron
Gleick catalogs numerous ways in which western culture is driven by go, go, Go! Some meme are quite funny, and insightful. Others, upon self reflection, are sad. "So what," you might say after reading this book, just as I did. His conclusion, maybe lacking but I took away a few things. Every generation sees the symptoms of mania (rapid speech, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, hypersexuality, euphoria, impulsiveness, grandiosity, and increased interest in goal-directed activities) in th ...more
Jeff Gabriel
Still interesting if a little dated. An afterword in the book indicates that the book was dated before it hit shelves, so putting another 15 years on it doesn't help. In any event if you can skip references the wonders of blazing fast 500Kb internet and heavy increase in the use of fax machines and alt.net newsgroups - then there is something here for you. I enjoyed the philosophical discussion over the increase of information in our society and how that leads to an increase in a sense of time c ...more
Dave Gaston
Sep 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, invention
I loved it. A straight forward, brief and insightful history of time. A refreshing view — to look at a measure that man invented and then obsessed upon. Prior to this read, it was too easy to think of time as a thing of nature. Gleick’s topic, is really his canvas. On it, he paints the history of progress aided by man’s inventions. For example, time from town to town was never in sync down to the minute until railroad schedules and the telegraph made it an obvious necessity. One of the optimisti ...more
Derrick Trimble
James Gleick is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. His skill in presenting a thematic read is enjoyable through and through. Turns on phrases, quips and quotes, matched by insightful expertise augment a rich educational journey. As evident by the subtitle, 'The Acceleration of Just About Everything,' the world has raced on since the book was first released in 1999.

Many of the references are now defunct, obsolete,...invalid. The world has not slowed down over the past fifteen years markin
...more
Barry
Apr 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-misc
Mr. Gleick throws out a topic of interest to his readers: people are trying to cram more things into their day, and he looks at some of the reasons for this as well as the consequences of it. Faster is a really neat idea, but it has a tendency to read like an essay (or investigative newspaper article) that has been filled out to book length. There is nothing inherently wrong with doing that, but the chapters tend to start fast and then plod along, straying from the theme of the chapter and book. ...more
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James Gleick (born August 1, 1954) is an American author, journalist, and biographer, whose books explore the cultural ramifications of science and technology. Three of these books have been Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalists, and they have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Born in New York City, USA, Gleick attended Harvard College, graduating in 1976 with a degree in
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“When the Lilliputians first saw Gulliver's watch, that "wonderful kind of engine...a globe, half silver and half of some transparent metal," they identified it immediately as the god he worshiped. After all, "he seldom did anything without consulting it: he called it his oracle, and said it pointed out the time for every action in his life." To Jonathan Swift in 1726 that was worth a bit of satire. Modernity was under way. We're all Gullivers now. Or are we Yahoos?” 10 likes
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