Being Digital Paperback – Jan 3 1996
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As the founder of MIT's Media Lab and a popular columnist for Wired, Nicholas Negroponte has amassed a following of dedicated readers. Negroponte's fans will want to get a copy of Being Digital, which is an edited version of the 18 articles he wrote for Wired about "being digital."
Negroponte's text is mostly a history of media technology rather than a set of predictions for future technologies. In the beginning, he describes the evolution of CD-ROMs, multimedia, hypermedia, HDTV (high-definition television), and more. The section on interfaces is informative, offering an up-to-date history on visual interfaces, graphics, virtual reality (VR), holograms, teleconferencing hardware, the mouse and touch-sensitive interfaces, and speech recognition.
In the last chapter and the epilogue, Negroponte offers visionary insight on what "being digital" means for our future. Negroponte praises computers for their educational value but recognizes certain dangers of technological advances, such as increased software and data piracy and huge shifts in our job market that will require workers to transfer their skills to the digital medium. Overall, Being Digital provides an informative history of the rise of technology and some interesting predictions for its future. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Negroponte, a Wired columnist and founder of MIT's Media Lab, presents an accessible guide to the cutting edge of digital technology and his predictions for its future.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
There is however one major flaw in this book, although he briefly mentions it in the epilogue. What are the broader societal complications? Nergroponte makes it look like our lives will be perfect and easier. I agree in part, but there are some things to be critical of.
Many people in the media seem to be happy with what I would call customized news; you only get the news you want. But what do we want? Doesn't news we hadn't thought of before increase our knowlegde of the world as well? If we only want to read left or rightwing editorials, will we ever understand what the other side thinks? Won't we be molded into a certain way of thinking?
There is a funny part about the digitial sister in law, a computer that knows what you like and can therefore tell you which movie you should see. What about moods? surprises? Won't digital machines tell us what to like this way?
Read it however, even though you might not like it, it's a classic, if only because of its influence.
A simple example is the authors lucid example of a doctor from the 19th Century walking into todays hospitals and being whammed by the advances. But the same cannot be said for a teacher of the 19th century walking into todays classrooms... except for the syllabus. Similar examples abound in the fact that technologies of devices are changing only incrementally to accomodate the bandwidth revolution, but the change needed is a quantum leap, which we are not doing. The author does portray various visions of the future where the full effects of technology would be used, and is clear in pointing out that these are not idle impractical fantasies.
Quite a very good book, and for those looking for a far more cohesive futuristic book bordering on Sci-Fi, a book well worth reading is "Visions" by Michio Kaku.
For those who don't know who he is, we're talking about the man who has spearheaded the efforts to make out of MIT's Media Lab one of the state-of-the-art technology workshops of the world. What those guys are working there is what you and I might own or work with (as a gadget, for instance) in a few years, depending on your wlak of life. These guys are light-years ahead of us. And Negroponte is even ahead of them!
If you were a follower of Negroponte's last-page articles in Wired magazine for several years, you might not find the book all that new, but even then, you will have to acknowledge that he has a unique and very intuitive way to explain digital technology to people who are not tech savvy. He reminds me at times of Nobel-prize winner Richard Feynman in that sense.
Anyway... Think of this book, whether you are a techie or not, as a statement written five years ago about what's to come. Some of the things he refers to in the book have already occurred, which makes it even more exciting: it means that he's right, and those things that have yet to come will definitely be part of our lives sooner that we can maybe imagine.
Buy it and you will devour it in a day, I predict!
Most recent customer reviews
I read this book a few years ago - correction - I read it about half way through and got so disgusted by its triviality of content and terrible prose that I flung it back into my... Read morePublished on Oct. 24 2003 by JFreijser
I have to say that this book could be very interesting if we were in 1995 or 1996. But from the modern perspective, this book is too simplified and optimistic. Read morePublished on June 18 2002 by Prior Jun-Ming Yang
I like this book but must take it with a grain of salt. It was joining the dot.com bubble so to speak although I had known of the author shortly before the 1990's. Read morePublished on March 30 2002 by Peter Timusk
this book may be a few years old now...but...it still holds value for the time and bucks required to ingest this digest. negroponte is a personal hero... Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2001 by Bruce E. Hogge
This is one of those rare books that combines easy, enjoable reading with thought-provoking authorship. Read morePublished on Oct. 17 2001 by racket
I'm fairly certain that the changes Negroponte envisioned haven't happened as quickly as he imagined that they would. Read morePublished on June 23 2001 by frumiousb
Negroponte's work is an engaging, well written book that truly is the "manifesto" of the Post-Information Age. Read morePublished on March 18 2001
By reading the customer reviews, and the books Being Digital, Data Smog, and Weaving the Web, one can get a better understanding of the overall picture. Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2001
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