Sign up to the musicMagpieStore to be the first to hear about the latest offers, competitions and product information!Sign up now
We are quick to acknowledge that our lives have been transformed by technology over the last ten years - that virtual reality has become as permanent a fixture in our lives as material reality; but the arrival of the electronic world over the last ten years was not a single invention, nor a single event; it could not be encompassed in a single moment. The last ten years can be characterized in three ways: the speed, the hysteria and the remarkable range of devices, aspects, and larger ramifications of what happened. Everyone knows about the accelerated pace of our lives. Everyone recognizes that the clamour has become unprecedented, but as much as we have all lived through the last ten years, it is hard to grasp the extent and expanse of what has happened. In 'Bits in the Ether', Jim Gleick sets down in chronological order the swirling bits and pieces of change: the new gadgets and the old that now have been given new power and new life - the resources - how the old resources have suddenly been enlivened by instant availability.
James Gleick was an editor and reporter at the NEW YORK TIMES for ten years. He is the author of GENIUS, CHAOS, which was nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, FASTER, and WHAT JUST HAPPENED.
What Just happened is a book of previously published essays by the author of Chaos and Faster is an eclectic chronicle of the information revolution's first 10 years. "The last decade of the twentieth century came as a surprise", writes James Gleick. What Just Happened shows how surprising it was: in the book's first piece, from 1992, Gleick notes that "a relatively small number of personal computer users use Windows". (He's a good sport about it, too, poking fun at himself in an introduction for making such an obsolete observation.) A longish piece on Microsoft from 1995 seems to correct the problem when Gleick comments on "the ever-advancing boundary of Microsoft's Windows package". Then it goes on to get something really right: "Microsoft's own power poses a threat, too--the threat that comes with the self-fulfilling destiny of any monopolist." That's a prescient observation, considering the antitrust actions taken against the company since those words were written.
The closing chapter of the book is fascinating and forward-looking; it's not about what just happene