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One Digital Day: How the Microchip is Changing Our World [Hardcover]

Rick Smolan
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 28 1998
No invention in history has spread so quickly throughout the world, or revolutionized so many aspects of human existence, as the microchip. Little more than a quarter century since its invention, there are now nearly 15 billion microchips in use worldwide -- the equivalent of two powerful computers for every man, woman, and child on the planet.  The microprocessor is not only changing the products we use, but also the way we live, and, ultimately, the way we perceive reality.

ONE DIGITAL DAY is the result of a unique project designed to make people aware of the thousands of microprocessors we unknowingly encounter every day. Rick Smolan, creator of the award-winning Day in the Life photography books and the bestseller 24 Hours in Cyberspace, sent 100 of the world's most talented photojournalists around the globe on July 11, 1997. Their mission: to depict intimate and emotional stories of how this tiny chip -- a square of silicon the size of a fingernail, weighing less than a postage stamp -- has transformed our human culture forever.

The book features more than 200 compelling photographs, taken on that single day, revealing a world that only science-fiction writers once dared envision. Thanks to microchips, it is a world where science, entertainment, business, health, sports, education, and countless other fields are progressing faster than we can imagine.

How pervasive is the microchip?  If you took the microchips out of every application in which they are now used, the results would be stunning and frightening. Microwave ovens, dishwashers, and many other kitchen appliances would stop working. Televisions and VCRs would fade to black; stereos would grow mute; and most clocks would stop. Cars wouldn't start, and airplanes would be unable to leave the ground. The phone system would go dead, as would most streetlights, thermostats, and, of course, a half-billion computers. And these are only the most obvious applications. Every factory in the industrial world would also shut down, as would the electrical grid, stock exchanges, and the global banking system. Pacemakers would stop, too, as would surgical equipment and fetal monitoring systems in obstetrics wards.

This infinite variety of applications is vividly illustrated by the images captured in ONE DIGITAL DAY.  A brief sample of what the hundred photographers came back with:

Johannesburg, South Africa -- Once on the verge of extinction, cheetahs at the DeWildt Center are implanted with microchips that contain genetic information. This information, read by a scanner, is crucial to the center's efforts to build up the world population, because in-breeding is a big threat to the genetic strength of the cats.

Hollywood, California -- The Jurassic Park River Adventure roller coaster is a completely automated ride which was designed with the help of paleontologists and robotics engineers, at a cost of $100 million. This completely automated ride includes "animatronic" dinosaurs which roar, lunge and even spit at riders in passing boats.

Bury, England -- Ida Schofield, a 69-year-old grandmother, had never touched a computer or thought she had any need for one until she volunteered as a "guinea pig" for a state-of-the-art desktop system, with video-conferencing. She now uses it to communicate with family members around the world.

Lacey, Washington -- Sprinter Tony Volpentest, born with no hands or feet and only partially formed arms and legs, uses ultra-light artificial feet designed with the help of sophisticated computer modeling programs.  He now runs the 100-meter dash only 1.5 seconds slower than the world record holder.

Singapore -- The foul-smelling but delicious tropical fruit known as durian is adored throughout Asia, but devotees dread carrying it home in their cars or keeping it around the house. Now connoisseurs of the odoriferous delicacy can order it online from 717 Trading Company and have it delivered just when they're ready to eat it. Since 717 launced its Web site in early 1996, about 20 percent of its sales have come from customers shopping online.

Fort Bragg, NC and Sarajevo, Bosnia -- U.S. Army Lieutenant Frank Holmes, stationed 5,000 miles from home in Bosnia, gets his first look at his six-week-old daughter, Morgan, by using a pc-based videoconferencing system.  The smooth images that reunited Frank, Morgan, and mom Andrea ran over normal phone lines between computers running ProShare Technology.  Frank's commanding officer notes that videoconferencing is "the single greatest morale boost for my troops in a long time." (Photos: Lori Grinker and Cindy Burnham)

As Andrew S. Grove, Chairman of Intel Corporation, writes in his foreword, "As you turn these pages, you'll see a world being reshaped by technology in ways previously unthinkable." ONE DIGITAL DAY makes it fascinatingly clear that there is no place on, above, or below the earth, that the microprocessor hasn't touched.

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Product Description

From School Library Journal

YA-Sponsored by the Intel Corporation, this series entry is written in veneration of the microprocessor. More than just a humble chip of silicon, it has become a sometimes invisible but indispensable feature of daily life in the global community. According to the introduction, "Today there are nearly 15 billion microchips of some kind in use-the equivalent of 2 powerful computers for every man, woman and child on the planet." Photos illustrate their uses in everything from laptop computers to automobiles, from telephones to refrigerators. One interesting picture shows illiterate elderly South Africans receiving government pensions following identity verification by fingerprint scan. Another shows businessmen in traffic-strangled Bangkok completing their work in mobile taxicab offices, then delivering finished products by cellular-dispatched motorcycle messengers. The volume records countless other uses for the microchip from entertainment to medicine, with more advances being developed hourly. With such a dizzying rate of technological evolution, this beautiful photo-essay will soon become little more than a glimpse into the archaic past. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating and thought-provoking glimpse.
Robin Deffendall, Bull Run Regional Library, Manassas, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Photojournalist Smolan and partner Erwitt (creators of the "Day in the Life" series and 24 Hours in Cyberspace, LJ 11/1/96) are back for a bow with One Digital Day, born on July 11, 1997, when 100 professional photographers scoured the globe to document how the microchip has transformed human culture with great speed and pervasiveness. Smolan and Erwitt have achieved their goal in grand style, using many full-page photos and spare text to ease that premise home. Favorite moments include the electronic dressing rooms of the New World Department Store in Shanghai and the amazing and very bionic Oklahoma City volunteer fire chief Ken Whitten, but for pure glee nothing quite matches the shot of Army Lieutenant Frank Holmes, mugging for his wife and newborn, linked by computer from his station in Bosnia to the desktop of his loved ones in North Carolina. Recommended for all public libraries.?Geoff Rotunno, "Tri-Mix" Magazine, Goleta, CA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
It's been said a picture is worth a thousand words. If that's true, then perhaps the 200 photographs in ONE DIGITAL DAY: HOW THE MICROCHIP IS CHANGING OUR WORLD by Rick Smolan are worth millions of microchips.
In 24 hours, Smolan's team of the world's best photojournalists canvassed the world and captured pictures and accompanying stories which illustrate just how one little microchip -- something that didn't exist 30 years ago -- has changed, influenced and altered our world.  In so doing, the invention of the tiny microchip has succeeded in bringing the globe to us inside our homes and offices.
In the introduction, Michael Malone gives us a rundown on the microchip and how it is moving closer and closer to "the center of our lives." Malone estimates close to 15 billion microchips are currently in use.
Malone reminds us that, even though we might not have a PC in our home, should the microchips we use daily be stricken from our lives, we would be dumbfounded. Quite simply, we take their existence in our lives for granted in many ways.
Got a microwave? A telephone? A television for watching that Sunday football game? How about that streetlight outside? Without the microchip, your car wouldn't even start, writes Malone. Pretty amazing for a "tiny square of silicon the size of a fingernail," indeed.
What's it all about, Alfie? For all its wonder, the microchip is made up of metal, fire, crystal and water. During manufacturing, Malone notes a single speck of dust can mean disaster. In fact, he writes, the water used to rinse the surfaces of finished chips is more pure than water used for open heart surgery!
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5.0 out of 5 stars From Kirkus Reviews June 10 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
From Kirkus: The ubiquitous microchip is celebrated in some 200 color photographs, taken in the course of one day (July 11, 1997) by approximately 100 photojournalists scattered around the globe. While we may take it for granted that the microprocessor has infiltrated and altered almost every element of life having to do with technology, it's still startling to see how pervasive its influence is. A portrait of Thai monks gathered `round a computer to study the teachings of the Buddha, of a Chinese sailor steering his junk and blithely chatting on a cellular telephone, or of a group of rural South African pensioners lining up at a computer that will identify them by their fingerprints before issuing a monthly check are likely to surprise even a jaded technophile. Much of the book, however, focuses on the specific ways in which the microchip is expanding life's possibilities, with a heavy stress on how microchip-driven technology is helping to cure disease and enhance the lives of those with a variety of disabilities. The upbeat message throughout is hardly surprising, given that the project was sponsored by the Intel Corporation. Still, as a primer on cutting edge work in health, the environment, And other sciences, and as a vivid tour of the world's obsession with all things technological, One Digital Day is breezily effective. (First serial to Fortune, CNN TV special) -Kirkus Reviews END
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5.0 out of 5 stars The San Diego Union-Tribune May 22 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The San Diego Union-Tribune 05/12/98 by Robert Hawkins
Real miracle of microchips: What people do with them
I remember when my father first brought a handful of microprocessors home. He was the new engineer responsible for improving their production. They weren't attached to anything, just processors. Defective ones at that. At the dinner table, my father excitedly traced the circuitry paths through the bed on which the microchip -- the "brains" -- would lie, explaining to me just what it was a microprocessor did, from an engineering perspective.
And it was impressive. But it also seemed so right, so natural, so logical, so within the reach of the bright minds of science. Impressed, yes. But I was not awed.
I've always had great faith in the technological process, how things are accomplished. I find it interesting that a single microchip today can hold 20 million transistors. And I'm fully confident that the number will continue to rise until it runs smack into the laws of physical nature. So be it.
There are now 15 billion microchips in use today around the world. OK, that's interesting. But what does it mean?
Over this past weekend I learned the answer, or part of it.
It means that Army Lt. Frank Holmes, stationed in Sarajevo, Bosnia, can talk face to face with his wife, Amanda, and baby daughter, Morgan, 5,000 miles away at Fort Bragg, N.C.
It means that 320,000 itinerate and functionally illiterate pensioners in the KwaZulu region of South Africa will get their monthly checks because a computer can read their fingerprints.
It means that 5-year-old Amy Stewart, blind since birth, can keep up with other students in her first-grade class because a computer converts her lessons into Braille.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Now that the hype is gone... Sept. 9 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Released as the Internet boom was accelerating upwards, One Digital Day now seems like a work from another era. Picking it up today, one can't help but think it rather irrelevant, and one can't help but think of the shattered California economy that is the remnant of the corporate hubris of the boom times. Still, it is a very nice book to look at, which is the whole point of course. A wag has put up a parody web site at anotherdigitalday-dot-com.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The San Diego Union-Tribune May 22 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The San Diego Union-Tribune 05/12/98 by Robert Hawkins
Real miracle of microchips: What people do with them
I remember when my father first brought a handful of microprocessors home. He was the new engineer responsible for improving their production. They weren't attached to anything, just processors. Defective ones at that. At the dinner table, my father excitedly traced the circuitry paths through the bed on which the microchip -- the "brains" -- would lie, explaining to me just what it was a microprocessor did, from an engineering perspective.
And it was impressive. But it also seemed so right, so natural, so logical, so within the reach of the bright minds of science. Impressed, yes. But I was not awed.
I've always had great faith in the technological process, how things are accomplished. I find it interesting that a single microchip today can hold 20 million transistors. And I'm fully confident that the number will continue to rise until it runs smack into the laws of physical nature. So be it.
There are now 15 billion microchips in use today around the world. OK, that's interesting. But what does it mean?
Over this past weekend I learned the answer, or part of it.
It means that Army Lt. Frank Holmes, stationed in Sarajevo, Bosnia, can talk face to face with his wife, Amanda, and baby daughter, Morgan, 5,000 miles away at Fort Bragg, N.C.
It means that 320,000 itinerate and functionally illiterate pensioners in the KwaZulu region of South Africa will get their monthly checks because a computer can read their fingerprints.
It means that 5-year-old Amy Stewart, blind since birth, can keep up with other students in her first-grade class because a computer converts her lessons into Braille. It means that Sigrid Cerf was able to phone her husband and hear his voice for the first time in their 35-year marriage because research she conducted on the Internet led to a cure for the hearing ! impairment she's had since childhood. (Ironically, her husband is Vint Cerf. He co-wrote theTCP/IP protocol, earning the title "father" of the Internet.) It means that Mike Ward, an Intel engineer, was able to design a computer system that would enable him to continue working as his body gradually deteriorated from Lou Gehrig's disease.
See? This is what I get excited about. Not how a microchip works, but what it can do. And to what new uses our imaginations can put it. These examples and hundreds more are found in a new book that will be available May 28. It is called "One Digital Day: How the Microchip is Changing the World."
If you are familiar with Rick Smolan's hugely popular coffee-table books, the "Day in the Life" series, you'll grasp the nature of this one. Smolan's specialty is assembling hundreds of the best photographers in the world and throwing them at a single subject for one intense shutterbugging day. California, Japan, Hawaii, America, Vietnam have all been topics. Smolan sent 100 photojournalists out into the field for this one on July 11, 1997. Their objective was "to depict intimate and emotional stories of how this tiny chip -- a square of silicon the size of a fingernail, weighing less than a postage stamp -- has transformed our human culture forever.
And, yes, the project was underwritten by the largest maker of microprocessors in the world, Intel Corp., to celebrate its 30th birthday. But so what? In 30 years I've never heard a soul complain about the way Absolut Vodka has corrupted, commercialized and trivialized the art world with its "masterpiece" bottle ads.
"One Digital Day" is a brilliant illumination. It is both an explication and a justification of digital technology. The argument it presents, that our lives have been irrevocably changed by microprocessor technology is nearly impossible to refute.
Evidence? Check out Philip Quirk's photo of an aboriginal woman in ! the Australian Outback using a hand-held ATM machine. Or Lori Adamski-Peek's photo of an implant pump, smaller than a contact lens, that can dispense medication with precision.
One of the most celebrated of recent technological feats is featured: Sojourner, the 22-pound Mars rover with the ancient Intel 80c85 processor and 9,600 baud modem. This mighty little robot sent back spectacular pictures of the Mars terrain.
Anyone who insists that they have nothing to do with computers should take a close look at Peter J. Menzel's composition of a San Anselmo, Calif.,home. All of the products from within the house which run on microchips are spread across the front lawn. It is a very crowded front lawn. Menzel's photo is both whimsical and sobering.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Digital Day "optically elegant, a feast for the eyes." Feb. 10 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It's been said a picture is worth a thousand words. If that's true, then perhaps the 200 photographs in ONE DIGITAL DAY: HOW THE MICROCHIP IS CHANGING OUR WORLD by Rick Smolan are worth millions of microchips.
In 24 hours, Smolan's team of the world's best photojournalists canvassed the world and captured pictures and accompanying stories which illustrate just how one little microchip -- something that didn't exist 30 years ago -- has changed, influenced and altered our world.  In so doing, the invention of the tiny microchip has succeeded in bringing the globe to us inside our homes and offices.
In the introduction, Michael Malone gives us a rundown on the microchip and how it is moving closer and closer to "the center of our lives." Malone estimates close to 15 billion microchips are currently in use.
Malone reminds us that, even though we might not have a PC in our home, should the microchips we use daily be stricken from our lives, we would be dumbfounded. Quite simply, we take their existence in our lives for granted in many ways.
Got a microwave? A telephone? A television for watching that Sunday football game? How about that streetlight outside? Without the microchip, your car wouldn't even start, writes Malone. Pretty amazing for a "tiny square of silicon the size of a fingernail," indeed.
What's it all about, Alfie? For all its wonder, the microchip is made up of metal, fire, crystal and water. During manufacturing, Malone notes a single speck of dust can mean disaster. In fact, he writes, the water used to rinse the surfaces of finished chips is more pure than water used for open heart surgery!
Past the fascinating introduction, readers will find a graphic photograph of just how many microchip-related items we could find in our homes if we tried. One family's home in San Anselmo, California is emptied, literally on the front lawn, and featured in a two-page layout with the home in the background and various
possessions, appliances and electronics, etc. are displayed on the lawn.
From Hong Kong, China to Bristol, Connecticut or from Rostov, Russia to Memphis, Tennessee, it doesn't really matter which country you choose or even what city or town -- you'd be hard-pressed to find a spot that the microchip hasn't touched.
In bold, dashing fashion, DIGITAL DAY takes the reader on a virtual tour<pun intended> of each place in rapid succession. The photographs are so clear, the captions so informative, you could easily lose hours poring through this book.
For instance, in Tokyo, Japan we discover there is a word for computer-crazed youths who can't get enough of technology: otaku. One photo features an otaku by the name of Masakazu Kobayashi, who clearly has his cyberlife wired to the max.
His microchip-driven bounty includes not one PC, but seven networked PCs, six video game systems, a palmtop, a laptop, and a motherlode of peripherals to boot.  Instead of having a room littered with comic books, magazines, CDs and other youth-driven materials,Kobayashi's room reeks of technology run amok.
But microchips and PCs aren't all for fun or convenience -- sometimes those thin slivered devices can mean the difference between life and death. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, DIGITAL DAY photos introduce the reader to new helmets worn by the city's firefighters.
These helmets, equipped with small digital video screens and infrared sensors, actually allow
firefighters to see through smoke.  When searching for victims amid smoke, unbearable heat and soaring flames, these helmets can mean saving lives instead of searching frantically in near-blinding conditions.
Worlds away, in South Africa, readers are captured in a surreal moment as a cheetah is scanned for identification purposes. Yes, scanners aren't just for groceries and department store purchases anymore!
More poignant, yet just as thrilling, is the photograph taken on Father's Day, 1997, of a young mother and her child making a video conference connection with the husband/father, a jubilant Army lieutenant stationed in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
Whether in the field of sports, business, science, health, or in your own backyard (situated in Bangor or Bangalore), this book makes clear through stunning, meticulous photographs,how microchips and technology coexist peacefully and practically amid our daily routine. 
At the end of DIGITAL DAY, readers will find a bonus in the section which introduces each of the book's photographers and offers a biography for each. It's rewarding not only to see the magnificent photos they've taken, it's equally as rewarding to read about the person, the artist, behind the photograph.
DIGITAL DAY is more than a dormant coffee table book. It's a book you'll find yourself going back to over and over -- and taking to work to show your friends. It's crisp, fresh, hip, blazing with color and vibrancy as this 24-hour microchip-laden tale is recounted for the reader.
If you're looking for a classy addition to your book collection that mixes modern tech with classic photography, DIGITAL DAY is the book for you.
The information and pictorial displays housed within make for a virtual feast that's fascinating, optically elegant and intellectually easy to digest.
3.0 out of 5 stars Pictures from the revolution Sept. 20 2006
By Newton Ooi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Of all the things changing in the world today, few are as accepted globally by more people than the microchip and the electronic devices powered by microchips. Yes there are those we do not own a computer, and vow never to own one, but even those individuals use the microchip as part of their everyday life; whether it be in the car they drive, their household appliances, the electronic doors at their work, or just waiting at an intersection for the cross sign to change. This book documents, with big pictures, the extant to which computer chips are used in various facets of life around the world; and not just in rich countries, but in poor ones as well. The text is fairly easy to read, and gives just enough information on how microchips are made to convery the basic ideas. Overall, a good book, and better than other books of this type.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Kirkus Reviews June 10 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
From Kirkus: The ubiquitous microchip is celebrated in some 200 color photographs, taken in the course of one day (July 11, 1997) by approximately 100 photojournalists scattered around the globe. While we may take it for granted that the microprocessor has infiltrated and altered almost every element of life having to do with technology, it's still startling to see how pervasive its influence is. A portrait of Thai monks gathered `round a computer to study the teachings of the Buddha, of a Chinese sailor steering his junk and blithely chatting on a cellular telephone, or of a group of rural South African pensioners lining up at a computer that will identify them by their fingerprints before issuing a monthly check are likely to surprise even a jaded technophile. Much of the book, however, focuses on the specific ways in which the microchip is expanding life's possibilities, with a heavy stress on how microchip-driven technology is helping to cure disease and enhance the lives of those with a variety of disabilities. The upbeat message throughout is hardly surprising, given that the project was sponsored by the Intel Corporation. Still, as a primer on cutting edge work in health, the environment, And other sciences, and as a vivid tour of the world's obsession with all things technological, One Digital Day is breezily effective. (First serial to Fortune, CNN TV special) -Kirkus Reviews END
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Now that the hype is gone... Sept. 9 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Released as the Internet boom was accelerating upwards, One Digital Day now seems like a work from another era. Picking it up today, one can't help but think it rather irrelevant, and one can't help but think of the shattered California economy that is the remnant of the corporate hubris of the boom times. Still, it is a very nice book to look at, which is the whole point of course. A wag has put up a parody web site at anotherdigitalday-dot-com.
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