The Book Depository The Nature of Technology by W. Brian Arthur

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The Book Depository The Nature of Technology by W. Brian Arthur
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Description: The Nature of Technology : Paperback : Penguin Books Ltd : 9780141031637 : 0141031638 : 05 Aug 2010 : Explores the extraordinary way in which the technology that surrounds us and allows us to live our modern lives has actually been developed. With examples, from laser printers to powerplants, the author reveals how our own problem-solving skills and creative vision can evolve alongside these technologies. The Book Depository The Nature of Technology by W. Brian Arthur - shop the best deal online on thebookbug.co.uk

 

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Product ID: 9780141031637

MPN: 0141031638

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Author: SimpleSimon

Rating: 5

Review: Brian Arthur deserves great credit for this exploration of what technology is, where it comes from and how it evolves. It's a most interesting account and I particularly enjoyed thinking about his concluding observations that we are, in a way, slaves to the technology that we invent. I did wonder, however, whether Arthur had pulled a bit of a semantic trick, in that much of what he says about technology seems to be a restatement of what has already been said about systems in general, and in particular about purposeful systems, using the specific terminology of technology based systems. In fact I felt that the whole area of semantics was the most difficult aspect of the book. It would have been much better for having a glossary and for Arthur to have been a bit more rigorous in his use of terms. It's clear that he has a model in his head, but he does not reveal it explicitly except in prose, so we are left having to infer it. Either the model isn't a complete one that he's happy with, so he hides it from us, or it's a good semantic model and we have to waste time recreating it to clearly understand what he's saying. A couple of diagrams would have resolved the matter, leaving me to suspect the former. But these criticisms should not detract from my enormous gratitude and admiration for the thinking that has gone into this endeavour to explain what we see around us. It is an entertainingly and, with caveats, beautifully written account. I am glad he gave me the opportunity to follow his journey.

 

Author: Mr. Joe Merieux

Rating: 3

Review: This books sets out to describe how technologies evolve. Arthur uses (existing) words to describe the process. It is a little like reading philosophy - he is defining these words to have these specific meanings. He claims that he is describing general principles but all he provides are (a limited range of) illustrations. The reader is left to assess the claim for yourself. I have a good knowledge of the history of the computer and the concepts he describes work for that example to my knowledge. Arthur agrees that it is hard to pin down a particular technology: they change a great deal over time and keep being developed. It is hard to be precise about a technology at one point in time - even harder over any prolonged period of time. I was frustrated by the references to the (very variable) amount of time technologies take to develop and to be taken up by societies. To me this is a fascinating topic that deserves more space than Arthur gives it. The variables that influence how quickly a technology are taken up are barely touched upon by Arthur. I found the last chapter the least satisfactory and I am still wondering what Arthur was trying to say with it. I found "The Box" a more satisfying read. It does locate a technology in its broad social context and show how many (apparently unrelated) factors influenced the development of the technology and its take-up by shippers and ports. I have been reflecting if I will remember and use Arthur's concepts when thinking about technologies in the future. On balance, I think not. The book is a brave attempt to bring a more systematic approach to thinking about technology - but I don't think it succeeds.

 

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