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The Best Technology Writing 2009 Paperback – Oct 6 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (Oct. 6 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300154100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300154108
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,577,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“A fascinating collection… these essays will certainly resonate with you for quite some time, encouraging you to discover some gems hidden in the crevices of the Internet”—Edward Valauskas, First Monday
(Edward Valauskas First Monday)

"This is a fantastic series"—Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
(Cory Doctorow BoingBoing 2009-12-08)

"Kim Stanley Robinson said recently that we're all living in a science-fiction novel.  The essays is this excellent collection, edited by author Steven Johnson, explore how technology is shaping our lives."—The Guardian
(The Guardian 2009-12-12)

"Chock full of great characters, ideas and passions."—Amanda Gefter, New Scientist
(Amanda Gefter New Scientist 2009-10-31)

About the Author

Steven Johnson is the author of six books, including the recent bestsellers The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, and Everything Bad Is Good for You. He writes for the New York Times Magazine, Wired, the Guardian, Discover, and other publications, and has made numerous appearances on Charlie Rose, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report. He lives in Brooklyn.



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Format: Paperback
I almost put the book away after the first couple of articles. They seemed to be "gee whiz, what will they think of next" or "isn't tech cool". Shallow, in other words. But there are several articles in this collection which provoke thought as much about what humans can do with technology as what technology can do for us. The last article "Gin, Television and Cognitive Surplus" is a good example. The simple comparison between the two hundred billion hours spent watching TV and the roughly hundred thousand to create Wikipedia certainly made me think about the potential of the creative media. As the author almost says, even writing this review adds more value to our shared space than another pair of eyeballs watching "Desperate Housewives".

I have been reading the The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009 series and The Best American Science Writing 2009 series for many years. I would rate them higher than this apparently new series because the articles in both are more consistently good than this more mixed bag, but once you've read those, you'll probably appreciate this as a third choice.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
Only Marginally Related to Technology Jan. 26 2011
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a theoretical physicist with an insatiable taste for all things technological. My home is filled with all sorts of gadgets, I am subscribed to several technology magazines, checking up on several tech websites and blogs is part of my morning routine, and I regularly write reviews of technology books and gadgets on Amazon and a couple other websites. I am also a bookworm and love reading and writing. With all this in mind a book that purports to be a collection of the best technology writing would seem like an ideal reading material for me. Unfortunately, this turned out not to be the case and this collection of essays is one of the more disappointing books that I've had the displeasure of reading in recent months. It turns out that most of the articles (with a few notable exceptions) in this collection deal with technology as a background for some other social, political, or artistic development. Rhapsodizing at length about blogging (which, by the way, is already considered passé) is no different than talking about sitcoms in the early days of television. An article about a "green" Danish island is actually very explicit about this point. The writer clearly says: "And that is the real lesson from Samso. What has happened here is a social not a technological revolution." Apparently, the editor of this collection didn't get that lesson. The collection overall seems much more concerned with making the "technology" writing palatable to the general technophobic audience than it is trying to appeal to people who are actually interested in technology. If that really is the case, then I think that the editor is underestimating the technological sophistication of today's general reading public.

To be fair, there are a few essays in this collection that I found genuinely interesting and informative. I particularly liked "Secret Geek A-Team Hacks Back, Defends Worldwide Web." It is a shocking revelation about a serious flow of in the web's architecture and how a major worldwide disaster had been barely averted. This is a real example of what good technology writing ought to be like - it presents an interesting technology that is not familiar to the general public and does so in an informative and engaging manner.

One of the articles in this collection was taken from The Onion, the satirical newspaper that takes an amusing spin on current news and trends. Unfortunately, even here the editor of this collection gets things wrong. The said Onion article was taken from The Onion Presents The Finest Reporting On Literature, Media, And Other Dying Art Forms and not from The Onion Presents Americas Finest Tech News, a much more appropriate source. You know you have completely missed your topic when The Onion has a more informative and accurate take on it.