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Trees on Mars: Our Obsession with the Future by [Niedzviecki, Hal]
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Trees on Mars: Our Obsession with the Future Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Length: 320 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

"Hal Niedzviecki’s urgent, eye-opening Trees on Mars exposes our mania for the future as exactly what it is: an ideology as narrow and dangerous as any we’ve known from history. Read this book and be the first on your block to recall the rebel thrill of living in the present."
—J.B. MacKinnon, author of The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be

Product Description

The future is big right now—for perhaps the first time, our society is more focused on what is going to happen in the future than what is happening right now. In Trees on Mars: Our Obsession with the Future, cultural critic and indie entrepreneur Hal Niedzviecki asks how and when we started believing we could and should “create the future.” What is it like to live in a society utterly focused on what is going to happen next? Through visits to colleges, corporations, tech conferences, factories and more, Niedzviecki traces the story of how owning the future has become irresistible to us. In deep conversation with both the beneficiaries and victims of our relentless obsession with the future, Niedzviecki asks crucial questions: Where are we actually heading?  How will we get there? And whom may we be leaving behind?

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3932 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press (Oct. 20 2015)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00SED1JUU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #152,802 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
Review of : Trees on Mars OUR OBSESSION WITH THE FUTURE Hal Niedzviecki

I heard a business school professor say the MBA was obsolete. What replaced it was in his hand -- an iPhone, symbol of the technological revolution. I recalled Alvin Toffler’s book Future Shock from 1970, after I had finished an undergraduate B.A. in Economics.

I thought back on University of Toronto’s Northrop Frye’s critiques on the worthwhileness of any new product, triggering my writing an essay, “Invention is the mother of necessity.” I read that 30% use of a cell phone is to say why one is late.

The opening sentence is taken from the WhiteHouse.gov website: “The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.” Not only is tomorrow is now ostensibly under control but we compete to own it.

Today, innovation is the gold for which people rush, and young winners have an oxymoronic mix of hubris and anxiety that they’re not pushing enough. The #1 sought after employee is the Network Systems and Data Communications Specialist, and global corporations are crammed with people think change is the only way to stay on top.

Only a fraction will succeed. Niedzviecki affirms we are in an era of post-employment. Between 1983-2009, 100% of wealth increase went to the top 20% while the lower 80% declined. Gone are the large employers that built Model T Fords or Kodak cameras. IT doesn’t need health benefits or a pension. Oh, there are still logistics jobs serving über-competitive high tech. Under the rubric of costs, “China-in-America” hubs use slave labor to serve a just-in-time inventory. Depressive disorders have risen as have suicides.

Formal education has whored itself to this gold rush.
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The book really hits its stride by midway, so if I were to read it again I'd start at that point. Is it worth your time? If the future of "no-jobs" interests you, then yes. The author makes compelling arguments why we need to question our benevolent hopes in futurism. Most of the profits end up in the hands of the few, while university graduates are increasingly compelled to dumb down their job prospects. If the future keeps at this pace, things might get affordable for all, but nobody will have any money to pay for anything.

The author is a compelling speaker and the second half of his book maintains that standard.
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Everybody should read this book, as it describes the current trends that can lead to a catastrophic future. It is honest straight forward and backed up by the author's personal investigations. For example, did you know there is now a new class of workers called the precariate, who are treated almost like machines and are always on the verge of being replaced by machines. Will there be jobs in the future or will all work be replaced by computers and robots? Will the jobs be dumbed down to such an extent that what is left for jobs will be minimum wage or worse? It seems the trends are all in the wrong direction. There is nothing sugar coated in this book. However, the author does attempt to prepare the reader for what may come and refreshingly refers to the work of Victor Frankel who survived the concentration camps and helps us to understand how to maintain our humanity in the face of great adversity.
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Format: Paperback
Very interesting and especially relevant for those in the tech industry or planning to join it. Interesting perspectives on the startup craze and the focus on the future.
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Trees on Mars: Our Obsession with the Future by Hal Niedzviecki is an invaluable book that explores the pop culture of chasing tomorrow. The book reminded the reader of Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave at first glance. Based on many social surveys, interviews of people from all walks of life, and tremendous research, the author has provided the reader with facts and provoking thoughts on technology and the future. Many unique points have been made and can be adopted by think tanks. The parts about students and schools interest the reader the most. It is surprising facts that many college students were encouraged to join tech sectors as a way of chasing the future even before they finished their degrees and that a pursuit of higher education was considered as a waste of time and money. Meanwhile many elementary school students were offered iPads as a way to prepare them ready for the future. The phenomena raise these questions: Is the ability to read and write less important than the ability to use a digital device? Is higher education less important than just learning instant lessons about technology? Can innovation really help the young generation embrace the unknown future?

Using the time of Homo erectus to the civilization of Mesopotamia and the culture of the Chumash people on Southern California's Channel Islands as evidences, the author offers his thought that 'for most of human life there is little tradition of embracing chaos, of fostering the new, of empowering people to be change agents.' (P.180) It is not shocking to know that the result of the author's focus group of university graduates that they 'have grown up with every possible privilege.
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