The History Book Club discussion


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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 28, 2013 07:36AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
This is a thread to discuss the "history of technology". The history of any device or object may be discussed here.

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod

The History of Computers by Les Freed by Les Freed[

bookcover:Bit by Bit: An Illustrated History of Computers|1708082] (no cover) by Stan Augarten

Computing in the Middle Ages A View From the Trenches 1955-1983 by Severo M. Ornstein Severo M. Ornstein

Encyclopedia of Computer Science by David Hemmendinger David Hemmendinger

Computer A History of the Information Machine (The Sloan Technology Series) by Martin Campbell-Kelly Martin Campbell-Kelly

Eniac The Triumphs & Tragedies of the World's First Computer by Scott McCartney Scott McCartney

The Computer from Pascal to Von Neumann by Herman H. Goldstine Herman H. Goldstine

Father, Son & Co. My Life at IBM and Beyond by Thomas J. Watson Thomas J. Watson

The Maverick and His Machine Thomas Watson, Sr. and the Making of IBM by Kevin Maney Kevin Maney

Core Memory A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers by John Alderman John Alderman

message 3: by Jason (new)

Jason (jasonct) | 53 comments I'd be interested to hear peoples' thoughts on how long they think it will be until the "ebook" is the publishing standard?

Maybe I'm jumping the gun, but with the ubiquitous nature of the iPad, and ereaders that are out there now (and I'm sure more will come in time), I feel that the next 5-10 years will be all it takes.

What say you?

message 4: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Never, never, never! People will still want to hold a book, to go into a shop and browse through the titles, to feel paper under their fingers, this is just a passing fad :)
(I hope)

message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) I think the day of the ebook is coming. Florida has seen the light with High Schools there ditching textbooks for ebooks

message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Oct 16, 2010 08:02AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I think for a time there will be both.

Aussie Rick is correct; you cannot hold a tape in your hand and enjoy the craftsmanship of a cd or peek to preview. You can sample a chapter like Amazon offers, but it is not the same thing.

I think this is a little different than the cds replacing tapes or dvds replacing VHS tapes.

And primary sources are always important.

message 7: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig I read this fun book on the telegraph:

The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage Tom Standage Tom Standage

Publisher's weekly:

A lively, short history of the development and rapid growth a century and a half ago of the first electronic network, the telegraph, Standage's book debut is also a cautionary tale in how new technologies inspire unrealistic hopes for universal understanding and peace, and then are themselves blamed when those hopes are disappointed. The telegraph developed almost simultaneously in America and Britain in the 1840s. Standage, a British journalist, effectively traces the different sources and false starts of an invention that had many claims on its patents. In 1842, Samuel F.B. Morse demonstrated a working telegraph between two committee rooms of the Capitol, and Congress reluctantly voted $30,000 for an experimental line to Baltimore?89 to 83, with 70 abstaining "to avoid the responsibility of spending the public money for a machine they could not understand." By 1850 there were 12,000 miles of telegraph line in the U.S., and twice that two years later. Standage does a good job sorting through a complicated and often contentious history, showing the dramatic changes the telegraph brought to how business was conducted, news was reported and humanity viewed its world. The parallels he draws to today's Internet are catchy, but they sometimes overshadow his portrayal of the unique culture and sense of excitement the telegraph engendered?what one contemporary poet called "the thrill electric." News of the first transatlantic cable in 1858 led to predictions of world peace and an end to old prejudices and hostilities. Soon enough, however, Standage reports, criminal guile, government misinformation and that old human sport of romance found their way onto the wires.

message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
That does look interesting.

message 9: by Michael (last edited Oct 19, 2010 01:32PM) (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) Heres an interesting book about technology and it's use in the modern battlefield Wired for War The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P.W. Singer by P.W. Singer

message 10: by Michael (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) Here is a link for those amongst like myself have never let go of my childhood hobby of gaming. It's IGN's list of books every gamer needs to read.

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Thank you Michael for those adds.

message 12: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Due out in April, the review below is what is listed on goodreads.
Idea Man A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft by Paul Allen byPaul Allen

By his early thirties, Paul Allen was a world-famous billionaire-and that was just the beginning.

In 2007 and 2008, Time named Paul Allen, the cofounder of Microsoft, one of the hundred most influential people in the world. Since he made his fortune, his impact has been felt in science, technology, business, medicine, sports, music, and philanthropy. His passion, curiosity, and intellectual rigor-combined with the resources to launch and support new initiatives-have literally changed the world.

In 2009 Allen discovered that he had lymphoma, lending urgency to his desire to share his story for the first time. In this long-awaited memoir, Allen explains how he has solved problems, what he's learned from his many endeavors-both the triumphs and the failures-and his compelling vision for the future. He reflects candidly on an extraordinary life.

The book also features previously untold stories about everything from the true origins of Microsoft to Allen's role in the dawn of private space travel (with SpaceShipOne) and in discoveries at the frontiers of brain science. With honesty, humor, and insight, Allen tells the story of a life of ideas made real.

message 13: by Michael (last edited Feb 17, 2011 11:36PM) (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) Here is a great looking book
Reality is Broken Why Games Make Us Happy and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal by Jane McGonigal

A book I must get the wife to read, this book explains why computer games are good for us :)

Publisher Blurb
More than 31 million people in the UK are gamers.The average young person in the UK will spend 10,000 hours gaming by the age of twenty-one. What’s causing this mass exodus?According to world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal the answer is simple: videogames are fulfilling genuine human needs. Drawing on positive psychology, cognitive science and sociology, Reality is Broken shows how game designers have hit on core truths about what makes us happy, and utilized these discoveries to astonishing effect in virtual environments. But why, McGonigal asks, should we use the power of games for escapist entertainment alone? In this groundbreaking exploration of the power and future of gaming, she reveals how gamers have become expert problem solvers and collaborators, and shows how we can use the lessons of game design to socially positive ends, be it in our own lives, our communities or our businesses.Written for gamers and non-gamers alike, Reality is Broken sends a clear and provocative message: the future will belong to those who can understand, design and play games.

Here is an article by the author derived from the book

Practical Advice for Gamers by Jane McGonigal

Reality is Broken explains the science behind why games are good for us--why they make us happier, more creative, more resilient, and better able to lead others in world-changing efforts.

But some games are better for us than others, and there is too much of a good thing.

Here are a few secrets that aren’t in the book to help you (or the gamer in your life) get the most positive impact from playing games.

This practical advice--5 key quidelines, plus 2 quick rules--is scientifically backed, and it can be summed up in a single sentence:

Play games you enjoy no more than 21 hours a week; face-to-face with friends and family as often as you can; and in co-operative or creator modes whenever possible.

1. Don’t play more than 21 hours a week.

Studies show that games benefit us mentally and emotionally when we play up to 3 hours a day, or 21 hours a week. (In extremely stressful circumstances--such as serving in the military during war-time--research shows that gamers can benefit from as many as 28 hours a week.) But for virtually everyone else, whenever you play more than 21 hours a week, the benefits of gaming start to decline sharply. By the time you’re spending 40 hours or more a week playing games, the psychological benefits of playing games have disappeared entirely--and are replaced with negative impacts on your physical health, relationships, and real-life goals. So always strive to keep your gaming in the sweet spot: 7–21 hours a week.

2. Playing with real-life friends and family is better than playing alone all the time, or with strangers.

Gaming strengthens your social bonds and builds trust, two key factors in any positive relationship. And the more positive relationships you have in real life, the happier, healthier and more successful you are.

You can get mental and emotional benefits from single-player games, or by playing with strangers online--but to really unlock the power of games, it’s important to play them with people you really know and like as often as possible.

A handy rule-of-thumb: try to make half of your gaming social. If you play 10 hours a week, try to play face-to-face with real-life friends or family for at least 5 of those hours.

(And if you’re not a gamer yourself--but you have a family member who plays games all the time, it would do you both good to play together--even if you think you don’t like games!)

3. Playing face-to-face with friends and family beats playing with them online.

If you’re in the same physical space, you’ll supercharge both the positive emotional impacts and the social bonding.

Many of the benefits of games are derived from the way they make us feel--and all positive emotions are heightened by face-to-face interaction.

Plus, research shows that social ties are strengthened much more when we play games in the same room than when we play games together online.

Multi-player games are great for this. But single-player works too! You can get all the same benefits by taking turns at a single-player game, helping and cheering each other on.

4. Cooperative gameplay, overall, has more benefits than competitive gameplay.

Studies show that cooperative gameplay lifts our mood longer, and strengthens our friendships more, than competing against each other.

Cooperative gameplay also makes us more likely to help someone in real life, and better collaborators at work--boosting our real-world likeability and chances for success.

Competition has its place, too, of course--we learn to trust others more when we compete against them. But if we spend all our time competing with others, we miss out on the special benefits of co-op play. So when you’re gaming with others, be sure to check to see if there are co-op missions or a co-op mode available. An hour of co-op a week goes a long way. (Find great co-op games for every platform, and a family-friendly list too, at Co-Optimus, the best online resource for co-op gaming.)

5. Creative games have special positive impacts.

Many games encourage or even require players to design and create as part of the gameplay process--for example: Spore, Little Big Planet, and Minecraft; the Halo level designer and the Guitar Hero song creator. These games have been shown to build up players’ sense of creative agency--and they make us more likely to create something outside of the game. If you want to really build up your own creative powers, creative games are a great place to start.

Of course, you can always take the next creative step--and start making your own games. If you’ve never made a game, it’s easier than you think--and there are some great books to help you get started.

2 Other Important Rules:

* You can get all of the benefits of a good game without realistic violence--you (or your kids) don’t have to play games with guns or gore.

If you feel strongly about violence, look to games in other genres--there’s no shortage of amazing sports, music, racing, puzzle, role-playing, casual, strategy and adventure games.

*Any game that makes you feel bad is no longer a good game for you to play.

This should be obvious, but sometimes we get so caught up in our games that we forget they’re supposed to be fun.

If you find yourself feeling really upset when you lose a game, or if you’re fighting with friends or strangers when you play--you’re too invested. Switch to a different game for a while, a game that has “lower stakes” for you personally.

Or, especially if you play with strangers online, you might find yourself surrounded by other players who say things that make you uncomfortable--or who just generally act like jerks. Their behavior will actually make it harder for you to get the positive benefits of games--so don’t waste your time playing with a community that gets you down.

Meanwhile, if you start to wonder if you’re spending too much time on a particular game – maybe you’re starting to feel just a tiny bit addicted--keep track of your gaming hours for one week. Make sure they add up to less than 21 hours! And you may want to limit yourself to even fewer for a little while if you’re feeling too much “gamer regret.”

message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Michael, that is stretching it (lol).

message 15: by Michael (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) I am stuck on a theme at the moment. Here is another great book on gaming

Fun Inc. by Tom Chatfield by Tom Chatfield

Publisher Blurb
A timely and informed assessment of the rapidly growing gaming industry that is altering the world around us.
Despite the recession, video games continue to break records—and command unprecedented amounts of media coverage. The U.S. is the world’s biggest video games market and manufacturer, with a market now worth over $20 billion annually in software and hardware sales—more than quadruple its size in the mid 1990s. World of Warcraft now boasts over 11 million players worldwide, and over $1 billion per year in revenues. Gaming is flourishing as a career and a creative industry as well. 254 U.S. colleges and universities in 37 states now offer courses and degrees in computer and video game design, programming and art. Video games are increasingly for everyone: 68% of American households now play computer or video games, while the average game player is 35 years old and has been playing games for twelve years.

Against the popular image, too, 43% of online U.S. game players are female. The U.S. military alone now spends around $6 billion a year on virtual and simulated training programs, based around video games and virtual worlds. The budgets for developing the biggest games can now top the $100 million mark and are snapping up some of the biggest names in film—from Stephen Spielberg to Peter Jackson.

A detailed and engaging analysis on an increasingly influential medium. Even non-gamers may find themselves seduced. (Esquire [UK] )

Sparklingly intelligent and nuanced... fresh and engaging. (The Guardian )

A lively, thought-provoking and thoughtful read on an entertainment juggernaut many of us have failed to properly recognize. A good book, too, for parents, who might feel far more comfortably informed about a sector that can come across as—literally—an alien world their kids inhabit. (The Irish Times )

In exploring the potential of the medium, Chatfield covers much territory, briskly and with intent ... His conclusion on what the future could hold is in equal parts daunting and lip-smacking. It should be read by gamers and non-gamers alike. (Time Out London )

A thought-provoking read for those already won over to the delights of computer games, and an even more important introduction to them for those who remain skeptical. (The Observer [UK] )

Fun Inc. is the most elegant and comprehensive defence of the status of computer games in our culture I have read. The sheer pervasiveness of game experience—99 per cent of teenage boys and 94 per cent of teenage girls having played a video game—means that instant naffness falls upon those who express a musty disdain for the medium. In fact, as Fun Inc. elegantly explains, computer game-playing has a very strong claim to be one of the most vital test-beds for intellectual enquiry. (Independent [London] )

Whether or not you share Chatfield’s optimism, Fun Inc. should help to block the fear-mongering generalization—the riffing on prejudices—that has passed for insight on this topic in broadsheet comment pages. If critics of game-playing can’t bring themselves to enter these worlds themselves, to learn first-hand what they are talking about, they should at least read this insightful book. (Times Literary Supplement )

message 16: by Tom (new)

Tom Wasn't so sure where to put this, guess here should do.

I ran into this book that looked interesting.

Grace Hopper Admiral Of The Cyber Sea (Library of Naval Biography) by Kathleen Broome Williams by Kathleen Broome Williams

From Amazon:
One of the most important women in the history of computers and the U.S. Navy, Hopper was born Grace Murray in 1906. Her well-to-do family believed in educating daughters, as well as sons, and she ended up with a doctorate in mathematics in the 1930s. That qualified her for work as a WAVE officer on early computers during World War II. Her career survived a divorce, though she temporarily left the navy to help develop COBOL. She returned as a reserve officer and, before retiring in 1986 as a rear admiral and the oldest serving officer in the navy, did enough work for three people in bringing the navy into the computer age. Her indefatigability carried her through a great many barriers as if they had not existed, and her love for the navy let her make allowances for obstacles she could not surmount. Williams' book on her is well done, badly needed (though there have been several children's books on her), and a credit to the publisher's Library of Naval Biography series. Roland Green

Also a more recent one on her.

Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age (Lemelson Center Studies in Invention and Innovation) by Kurt W. Beyer by Kurt W. Beyer

from Amazon:
A Hollywood biopic about the life of computer pioneer Grace Murray Hopper (1906–1992) would go like this: a young professor abandons the ivy-covered walls of academia to serve her country in the Navy after Pearl Harbor and finds herself on the front lines of the computer revolution. She works hard to succeed in the all-male computer industry, is almost brought down by personal problems but survives them, and ends her career as a celebrated elder stateswoman of computing, a heroine to thousands, hailed as the inventor of computer programming. Throughout Hopper's later years, the popular media told this simplified version of her life story. In Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age, Kurt Beyer goes beyond the screenplay-ready myth to reveal a more authentic Hopper, a vibrant and complex woman whose career paralleled the meteoric trajectory of the postwar computer industry.

Hopper made herself "one of the boys" in Howard Aiken's wartime Computation Laboratory at Harvard, then moved on to the Eckert and Mauchly Computer Corporation. Both rebellious and collaborative, she was influential in male-dominated military and business organizations at a time when women were encouraged to devote themselves to housework and childbearing. Hopper's greatest technical achievement was to create the tools that would allow humans to communicate with computers in terms other than ones and zeroes. This advance influenced all future programming and software design and laid the foundation for the development of user-friendly personal computers

message 17: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Tom wrote: "Wasn't so sure where to put this, guess here should do.

I ran into this book that looked interesting.

Grace Hopper Admiral Of The Cyber Sea (Library of Naval Biography) by Kathleen Broome Williams by [author:Kathleen Broome W..."

Tom, great additions, thanks for posting these. Grace Hopper is an icon for women in the modern day technology industry.

message 18: by Tom (last edited Feb 24, 2011 09:34AM) (new)

Tom Michael wrote: "Heres an interesting book about technology and it's use in the modern battlefield Wired for War The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P.W. Singer by P.W. Singer"

Link to a talk by PW Singer on robots of war

- interesting

message 19: by Michael (new)

Michael Flanagan (loboz) Tom wrote: "Michael wrote: "Heres an interesting book about technology and it's use in the modern battlefield Wired for War The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P.W. Singer by [au..."

Thanks for the great link Tom

message 20: by Tom (new)

Tom I finished 'Wired for War' earlier this week. It is a good book, covering the the history of technology and warfare leading up to today's robotic systems. The book had a number of historical anecdotes that I liked. The uses of technology in Iraq discussed were very interesting. It covers a large number of subjects and raises a number of questions. It gives a glimpse of some of the possibilities in future wars and how they may be fought.

Wired for War The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P.W. Singer by P.W. Singer

message 21: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Hi Tom, thanks for the update on your book "Wired for War", it sounds like and interesting book for those who enjoy technology and its role in warfare.

Wired for War The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P.W. Singer by P.W. Singer

message 22: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig This looks interesting:

The Information A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick James Gleick

Publisher's Weekly:
Starred Review. In 1948, Bell Laboratories announced the invention of the electronic semiconductor and its revolutionary ability to do anything a vacuum tube could do but more efficiently. While the revolution in communications was taking these steps, Bell Labs scientist Claude Shannon helped to write a monograph for them, A Mathematical Theory of Communication, in which he coined the word bit to name a fundamental unit of computer information. As bestselling author Gleick (Chaos) astutely argues, Shannon's neologism profoundly changed our view of the world; his brilliant work introduced us to the notion that a tiny piece of hardware could transmit messages that contained meaning and that a physical unit, a bit, could measure a quality as elusive as information. Shannon's story is only one of many in this sprawling history of information. With his brilliant ability to synthesize mounds of details and to tell rich stories, Gleick leads us on a journey from one form of communicating information to another, beginning with African tribes' use of drums and including along the way scientists like Samuel B. Morse, who invented the telegraph; Norbert Wiener, who developed cybernetics; and Ada Byron, the great Romantic poet's daughter, who collaborated with Charles Babbage in developing the first mechanical computer. Gleick's exceptional history of culture concludes that information is indeed the blood, the fuel, and the vital principle on which our world runs.

message 23: by Jason (new)

Jason | 104 comments Bryan wrote: "This looks interesting:

The Information A History, A Theory, A Flood by James GleickJames Gleick

Publisher's Weekly:
Starred Review. In 1948, Bell Laboratories announced the in..."

Hi Bryan,

I recently read
The Information A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick by James Gleick and found that it is more the history of communication more than anything. It was good talking about everything from smoke signals to Google. Seems a little rushed at the end, but I would recommend for anyone who wants to learn about the history of technology. I believe this was on the best sellers non-fiction list when it came out.


message 24: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Great, Jason, thanks for your review; it does look interesting

message 25: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) With the passing of Steve Jobs this soon-to-be-released biography is garnering a great deal of interest.
Steve Jobs A Biography by Walter Isaacson by Walter Isaacson Walter Isaacson

message 26: by Jason (new)

Jason | 104 comments Alisa wrote: "With the passing of Steve Jobs this soon-to-be-released biography is garnering a great deal of interest.
Steve Jobs A Biography by Walter Isaacson by Walter IsaacsonWalter Isaacson "

Yes it is. They bumped up the release date by a month. I am going to be reading this one!

message 27: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I thought I recognized the author's name......he wrote that wonderful biography of Albert Einstein among others..
Einstein His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson Walter Isaacson Walter Isaacson

Not only is he a good writer but his book of this American giant is timely, although sadly so.

Steve Jobs A Biography by Walter Isaacson Walter Isaacson Walter Isaacson

message 28: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I think we should do a special spotlighted discussion of this book;it will be timely and important.

message 29: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Bentley wrote: "I think we should do a special spotlighted discussion of this book;it will be timely and important."

Bentley, that is not a bad idea, assuming there is interest. There are a LOT of books about Steve Jobs but I think this one will be quite good given the author's other works. I think this doesn't release for another month so maybe after the first of the year?

message 30: by Krystal (new)

Krystal (queenravenclaw) | 329 comments Agrees with Bentley even tho I've never owned anything by apple I've been watching that they are always the first to come up with something new. I think my next phone will be either a blackberry or an Iphone. Im always watching the news and there is always something with Apple being released.

message 31: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
We will play it by ear but I think this might be quite good given the timing and the period in the subject's life. I imagine he was more introspective and possibly thinking about his legacy. Which by the way is a great one.

message 32: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Early technology - the steam engine.

The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention

The Most Powerful Idea in the World A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention by William Rosen by William Rosen


If all measures of human advancement in the last hundred centuries were plotted on a graph, they would show an almost perfectly flat line—until the eighteenth century, when the Industrial Revolution would cause the line to shoot straight up, beginning an almost uninterrupted march of progress.

In The Most Powerful Idea in the World, William Rosen tells the story of the men responsible for the Industrial Revolution and the machine that drove it—the steam engine. In the process he tackles the question that has obsessed historians ever since: What made eighteenth-century Britain such fertile soil for inventors? Rosen’s answer focuses on a simple notion that had become enshrined in British law the century before: that people had the right to own and profit from their ideas.

The result was a period of frantic innovation revolving particularly around the promise of steam power. Rosen traces the steam engine’s history from its early days as a clumsy but sturdy machine, to its coming-of-age driving the wheels of mills and factories, to its maturity as a transporter for people and freight by rail and by sea. Along the way we enter the minds of such inventors as Thomas Newcomen and James Watt, scientists including Robert Boyle and Joseph Black, and philosophers John Locke and Adam Smith—all of whose insights, tenacity, and ideas transformed first a nation and then the world.

William Rosen is a masterly storyteller with a keen eye for the “aha!” moments of invention and a gift for clear and entertaining explanations of science. The Most Powerful Idea in the World will appeal to readers fascinated with history, science, and the hows and whys of innovation itself.

message 33: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) The Age of Edison
The Age of Edison by Ernest Freeberg by Ernest Freeberg

The late 19th century saw a surge of technological advancement, but probably nothing as important as Edison’s invention of the light bulb. Here, University of Tennessee history professor Freeberg, author of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist Democracy’s Prisoner, shows how radically the light bulb transformed America, freeing it from the stranglehold of the gas companies, turning it from a rural to an urban society and, as the electrical grid took over, drawing a sharp line between city and country, rich and poor. For history buffs and techies alike.

message 34: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) The Measure of Manhattan: The Tumultuous Career and Surprising Legacy of John Randel, Jr., Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor
The Measure of Manhattan The Tumultuous Career and Surprising Legacy of John Randel, Jr., Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor by Marguerite Holloway by Marguerite Holloway

John Randel Jr. (1787–1865) was an eccentric and flamboyant surveyor. Renowned for his inventiveness as well as his bombast and irascibility, Randel created surveying devices, designed an early elevated subway, and laid out a controversial alternative route for the Erie Canal—winning him admirers and enemies. In The Measure of Manhattan, Marguerite Holloway explores the science and symbolism of surveying, a craft that begat a surprising number of modern technologies. Tasked with “gridding” what was then an undeveloped, hilly island, Randel recorded the contours of Manhattan down to the rocks on its shores. In his precision he sought to tame the land; Holloway explores this philosophy as well as contemporary efforts to envision Manhattan as a wild island again. Illustrated throughout with historical images and antique maps, The Measure of Manhattan is about the ways we envision and inhabit the world, and is also an eye-opening biography of a man who was central to Manhattan’s development yet died in financial ruin.

message 35: by Frank (new)

Frank | 70 comments Wheels for the World Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress, 1903-2003 by Douglas Brinkley Douglas Brinkley Douglas Brinkley great book on the start of the Industrial Age .

message 36: by Frank (new)

Frank | 70 comments The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson Thunderstruck by Erik Larson Erik Larson Erik Larson are two great non fiction books that weave crime and technology of the times into a couple of great books

message 37: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Thanks Frank. Rare when there is no book cover but when that happens use the link and note no cover along with the rest of the citation.
Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress, 1903-2003 (no cover) by Douglas Brinkley Douglas Brinkley

Thanks for the additions.

message 38: by Frank (new)

Frank | 70 comments Does make more sense that way.

message 39: by Frank (new)

Frank | 70 comments One Good Turn A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw by Witold Rybczynski Witold Rybczynski I remembered this one after I went to bed. Great essay about why the screw was the greatest invention ever, better than even the wheel. He convinced me.

message 40: by Katy (last edited Apr 23, 2013 05:04PM) (new)

Katy (kathy_h) The New Digital Age

The New Digital Age Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business by Eric Schmidt by Eric Schmidt (no photo)

In an unparalleled collaboration, two leading global thinkers in technology and foreign affairs give us their widely anticipated, transformational vision of the future: a world where everyone is connected—a world full of challenges and benefits that are ours to meet and to harness.

Eric Schmidt is one of Silicon Valley’s great leaders, having taken Google from a small startup to one of the world’s most influential companies. Jared Cohen is the director of Google Ideas and a former adviser to secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. With their combined knowledge and experiences, the authors are uniquely positioned to take on some of the toughest questions about our future: Who will be more powerful in the future, the citizen or the state? Will technology make terrorism easier or harder to carry out? What is the relationship between privacy and security, and how much will we have to give up to be part of the new digital age?

In this groundbreaking book, Schmidt and Cohen combine observation and insight to outline the promise and peril awaiting us in the coming decades. At once pragmatic and inspirational, this is a forward-thinking account of where our world is headed and what this means for people, states and businesses.

With the confidence and clarity of visionaries, Schmidt and Cohen illustrate just how much we have to look forward to—and beware of—as the greatest information and technology revolution in human history continues to evolve. On individual, community and state levels, across every geographical and socioeconomic spectrum, they reveal the dramatic developments—good and bad—that will transform both our everyday lives and our understanding of self and society, as technology advances and our virtual identities become more and more fundamentally real.

As Schmidt and Cohen’s nuanced vision of the near future unfolds, an urban professional takes his driverless car to work, attends meetings via hologram and dispenses housekeeping robots by voice; a Congolese fisherwoman uses her smart phone to monitor market demand and coordinate sales (saving on costly refrigeration and preventing overfishing); the potential arises for “virtual statehood” and “Internet asylum” to liberate political dissidents and oppressed minorities, but also for tech-savvy autocracies (and perhaps democracies) to exploit their citizens’ mobile devices for ever more ubiquitous surveillance. Along the way, we meet a cadre of international figures—including Julian Assange—who explain their own visions of our technology-saturated future.

Inspiring, provocative and absorbing, The New Digital Age is a brilliant analysis of how our hyper-connected world will soon look, from two of our most prescient and informed public thinkers.

message 41: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age
Tesla Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson by W. Bernard Carlson

Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the twentieth century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and contributed to the development of radio and television. Like his competitor Thomas Edison, Tesla was one of America's first celebrity scientists, enjoying the company of New York high society and dazzling the likes of Mark Twain with his electrical demonstrations. An astute self-promoter and gifted showman, he cultivated a public image of the eccentric genius. Even at the end of his life when he was living in poverty, Tesla still attracted reporters to his annual birthday interview, regaling them with claims that he had invented a particle-beam weapon capable of bringing down enemy aircraft.

Plenty of biographies glamorize Tesla and his eccentricities, but until now none has carefully examined what, how, and why he invented. In this groundbreaking book, W. Bernard Carlson demystifies the legendary inventor, placing him within the cultural and technological context of his time, and focusing on his inventions themselves as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity. Drawing on original documents from Tesla's private and public life, Carlson shows how he was an "idealist" inventor who sought the perfect experimental realization of a great idea or principle, and who skillfully sold his inventions to the public through mythmaking and illusion.

This major biography sheds new light on Tesla's visionary approach to invention and the business strategies behind his most important technological breakthroughs.

message 42: by Katy (last edited May 08, 2013 03:45PM) (new)

Katy (kathy_h) Alisa wrote: "Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age
Tesla Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson by W. Bernard Carlson

Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution th..."

I saw that. Looks interesting. I love the line in the synopsis "Tesla was one of America's first celebrity scientists." We need more celebrities that are scientists.

message 43: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Kathy I could not agree more!

message 44: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google

The Big Switch Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google by Nicholas G. Carr by Nicholas G. Carr Nicholas G. Carr

The definitive guide to the cloud computing revolution.

Hailed as “the most influential book so far on the cloud computing movement” (Christian Science Monitor), The Big Switch makes a simple and profound statement: Computing is turning into a utility, and the effects of this transition will ultimately change society as completely as the advent of cheap electricity did.

"Magisterial…Draws an elegant and illuminating parallel between the late-19th-century electrification of America and today’s computing world."—Salon

message 45: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jul 28, 2013 06:47AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable

The Physics of Wall Street A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable by James Owen Weatherall by James Owen Weatherall James Owen Weatherall


After the economic meltdown of 2008, Warren Buffett famously warned, “beware of geeks bearing formulas.” But as James Weatherall demonstrates, not all geeks are created equal. While many of the mathematicians and software engineers on Wall Street failed when their abstractions turned ugly in practice, a special breed of physicists has a much deeper history of revolutionizing finance. Taking us from fin-de-siècle Paris to Rat Pack-era Las Vegas, from wartime government labs to Yippie communes on the Pacific coast, Weatherall shows how physicists successfully brought their science to bear on some of the thorniest problems in economics, from options pricing to bubbles.

The crisis was partly a failure of mathematical modeling. But even more, it was a failure of some very sophisticated financial institutions to think like physicists. Models—whether in science or finance—have limitations; they break down under certain conditions. And in 2008, sophisticated models fell into the hands of people who didn’t understand their purpose, and didn’t care. It was a catastrophic misuse of science.

The solution, however, is not to give up on models; it's to make them better. Weatherall reveals the people and ideas on the cusp of a new era in finance. We see a geophysicist use a model designed for earthquakes to predict a massive stock market crash. We discover a physicist-run hedge fund that earned 2,478.6% over the course of the 1990s.

And we see how an obscure idea from quantum theory might soon be used to create a far more accurate Consumer Price Index.

Both persuasive and accessible, The Physics of Wall Street is riveting history that will change how we think about our economic future.

message 46: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

Present Shock When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff by Douglas Rushkoff Douglas Rushkoff


This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, explains award-winning media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, but we don’t seem to have any time in which to live it. Instead we remain poised and frozen, overwhelmed by an always-on, live-streamed re­ality that our human bodies and minds can never truly in­habit. And our failure to do so has had wide-ranging effects on every aspect of our lives.

People spent the twentieth century obsessed with the future. We created technologies that would help connect us faster, gather news, map the planet, compile knowledge, and con­nect with anyone, at anytime. We strove for an instanta­neous network where time and space could be compressed.

Well, the future’s arrived. We live in a continuous now en­abled by Twitter, email, and a so-called real-time technologi­cal shift. Yet this “now” is an elusive goal that we can never quite reach. And the dissonance between our digital selves and our analog bodies has thrown us into a new state of anxiety: present shock.

Rushkoff weaves together seemingly disparate events and trends into a rich, nuanced portrait of how life in the eter­nal present has affected our biology, behavior, politics, and culture. He explains how the rise of zombie apocalypse fic­tion signals our intense desire for an ending; how the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street form two sides of the same post-narrative coin; how corporate investing in the future has been replaced by futile efforts to game the stock market in real time; why social networks make people anxious and email can feel like an assault. He examines how the tragedy of 9/11 disconnected an entire generation from a sense of history, and delves into why conspiracy theories actually comfort us.

As both individuals and communities, we have a choice. We can struggle through the onslaught of information and play an eternal game of catch-up. Or we can choose to live in the present: favor eye contact over texting; quality over speed; and human quirks over digital perfection. Rushkoff offers hope for anyone seeking to transcend the false now.

Absorbing and thought-provoking, Present Shock is a wide-ranging, deeply thought meditation on what it means to be human in real time.

message 47: by Katy (new)

Katy (kathy_h) The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

The Second Machine Age Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson by Erik Brynjolfsson (no photo)


In recent years, Google’s autonomous cars have logged thousands of miles on American highways and IBM’s Watson trounced the best human Jeopardy! players. Digital technologies—with hardware, software, and networks at their core—will in the near future diagnose diseases more accurately than doctors can, apply enormous data sets to transform retailing, and accomplish many tasks once considered uniquely human.
In The Second Machine Age MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee—two thinkers at the forefront of their field—reveal the forces driving the reinvention of our lives and our economy. As the full impact of digital technologies is felt, we will realize immense bounty in the form of dazzling personal technology, advanced infrastructure, and near-boundless access to the cultural items that enrich our lives.

Amid this bounty will also be wrenching change. Professions of all kinds—from lawyers to truck drivers—will be forever upended. Companies will be forced to transform or die. Recent economic indicators reflect this shift: fewer people are working, and wages are falling even as productivity and profits soar.

Drawing on years of research and up-to-the-minute trends, Brynjolfsson and McAfee identify the best strategies for survival and offer a new path to prosperity. These include revamping education so that it prepares people for the next economy instead of the last one, designing new collaborations that pair brute processing power with human ingenuity, and embracing policies that make sense in a radically transformed landscape.

A fundamentally optimistic book, The Second Machine Age will alter how we think about issues of technological, societal, and economic progress.

message 48: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Thank you all of keeping up the technology thread - tremendous adds Kathy and Bryan.

message 49: by Katy (new)

Katy (kathy_h) Race Against the Machine

Race Against The Machine How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy by Erik Brynjolfsson by Erik Brynjolfsson (no photo)


Why has median income stopped rising in the US?

Why is the share of population that is working falling so rapidly?

Why are our economy and society are becoming more unequal?

A popular explanation right now is that the root cause underlying these symptoms is technological stagnation-- a slowdown in the kinds of ideas and inventions that bring progress and prosperity. In Race Against the Machine, MIT's Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee present a very different explanation. Drawing on research by their team at the Center for Digital Business, they show that there's been no stagnation in technology -- in fact, the digital revolution is accelerating. Recent advances are the stuff of science fiction: computers now drive cars in traffic, translate between human languages effectively, and beat the best human Jeopardy! players.

As these examples show, digital technologies are rapidly encroaching on skills that used to belong to humans alone. This phenomenon is both broad and deep, and has profound economic implications. Many of these implications are positive; digital innovation increases productivity, reduces prices (sometimes to zero), and grows the overall economic pie.

But digital innovation has also changed how the economic pie is distributed, and here the news is not good for the median worker. As technology races ahead, it can leave many people behind. Workers whose skills have been mastered by computers have less to offer the job market, and see their wages and prospects shrink. Entrepreneurial business models, new organizational structures and different institutions are needed to ensure that the average worker is not left behind by cutting-edge machines.

In Race Against the Machine Brynjolfsson and McAfee bring together a range of statistics, examples, and arguments to show that technological progress is accelerating, and that this trend has deep consequences for skills, wages, and jobs. The book makes the case that employment prospects are grim for many today not because there's been technology has stagnated, but instead because we humans and our organizations aren't keeping up.

message 50: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4374 comments Mod
Fearless Genius: The Digital Revolution in Silicon Valley 1985-2000

Fearless Genius The Digital Revolution in Silicon Valley 1985-2000 by Doug Menuez by Doug Menuez Doug Menuez


In the spring of 1985, a technological revolution was under way in Silicon Valley, and documentary photographer Doug Menuez was there in search of a story—something big. At the same time, Steve Jobs was being forced out of his beloved Apple and starting over with a new company, NeXT Computer. His goal was to build a supercomputer with the power to transform education. Menuez had found his story: he proposed to photograph Jobs and his extraordinary team as they built this new computer, from conception to product launch.

In an amazing act of trust, Jobs granted Menuez unlimited access to the company, and, for the next three years, Menuez was able to get on film the spirit and substance of innovation through the day-to-day actions of the world’s top technology guru.

From there, the project expanded to include the most trailblazing companies in Silicon Valley, all of which granted Menuez the same complete access that Jobs had. Menuez photographed behind the scenes with John Warnock at Adobe, John Sculley at Apple, Bill Gates at Microsoft, John Doerr at Kleiner Perkins, Bill Joy at Sun Microsystems, Gordon Moore and Andy Grove at Intel, Marc Andreessen at Netscape, and more than seventy other leading companies and innovators. It would be fifteen years before Menuez stopped taking pictures, just as the dotcom bubble burst. An extraordinary era was coming to its close.

With his singular behind-the-scenes access to these notoriously insular companies, Menuez was present for moments of heartbreaking failure and unexpected success, moments that made history, and moments that revealed the everyday lives of the individuals who made it happen. This period of rapid, radical change would affect almost every aspect of our culture and our lives in ways both large and small and would also create more jobs and wealth than any other time in human history. And Doug Menuez was there, a witness to a revolution.

In more than a hundred photographs and accompanying commentary, Fearless Genius captures the human face of innovation and shows what it takes to transform powerful ideas into reality.

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