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Being Digital Hardcover – January 31, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0679439196 ISBN-10: 0679439196 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (January 31, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679439196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679439196
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,355,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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.

From Publishers Weekly

In an upbeat primer on the information revolution, Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab and a columnist for Wired, says we are making a transition to a "post-information age" where digitized transmissions will become extremely personalized. He predicts that interactive multimedia will become more booklike, for example, a TV or video program with which you can curl up and either have a conversation or be told a story. In his scenario, the personal computer-gateway to a multitude of information and entertainment services-will replace the TV set, and by 2005 Americans will spend more hours on the Internet than watching network TV. Negroponte also describes the Media Lab's teaching of learning-disabled children, critiques U.S. TV manufacturers' approach to high-definition television, touts the advantages of E-mail over the uneconomical fax machine ("a step backward") and ruminates on the emerging global digitized workplace. 100,000 first printing; BOMC selection; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Overall however, I wasn't too terribly impressed.
Professional Strong Man
I thoroughly enjoyed this book because is was really an effortless read ( I read it in one sitting), and it was thought-provoking and educational.
Sharon S. Bernardy
Negroponte's "Being Digital" is one of the best books to get an overview on the impact technology is having on our everyday lives.
P. Astorga Iglesias

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Chris on April 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Being Digital introduces the reader to a world that may not be too familiar. The Information Superhighway is a vast array of collections of data and could easily trip up a first time user. Nicholas Negroponte begins by giving the reader some background information starting with the development of CD ROM drives. Negroponte enhances the read by making the language easy to understand and clear. What I gained from reading this book is a perspective once thought to be held only by the "Tech Freeks." Negrooponte points out the pluses as well as some minuses when dealing with this new technology. Bandwidth, HDTV, and the Internet in general are more clearly understood after reading Being Digital. Published in 1995, Being Digital was released at the emergence of an e-society so much of the information is old and known by now, but Negroponte is someone to listen to; co-founder of the MIT Media Lab. Being Digital allows the reader to truly understand the power of a bit in today's world.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dave Thomas on March 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Nicholas Negroponte knows that many people fear technology and refuse to understand it. He also knows that technological advances are inevitable. One day, computers, bytes, and bits will be a part of almost everything we do. Being Digital is a simplistic explanation of the history of data communications, the present use of computers and how we interact with them, and what may be in store for us in the future.
Throughout this book, Negroponte emphasizes that there is a difference between bits and atoms and there will always be that distinction. It is made clear that bits of data will not feed the hungry, but can provide a means for millions of people to discuss world hunger and try to resolve it. He attempts to calm the fear that computers will rule our lives. He merely views computers as advancing communications between humans, not a replacement for us.
Many issues are addressed in Being Digital. Although published in 1995, many of these issues still pertain to us today. It sounds funny, but 5 years in a digital age is like 20 years in real life. Technology has come a long way in 5 years and Negroponte predicted it all. He addressed the laws of the Internet, Netiquette, privacy issues, encryption, and even the notion that all media on the Internet will be made for the individual, not the mass population. We see this today where sites have a personal start page like My Yahoo! and My Netscape. You learn what you want to know.
Negroponte made a wonderful attempt to explain the workings of the Internet without getting too technical. He made several comparisons to situations most people can relate to like describing bandwidth as lanes on a highway.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Manny Hernandez HALL OF FAME on July 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Or should I say "Negroponte rules!"
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!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
As old as this book is (35, in internet years), it is still visionary. Lucid, interesting, lively reading. Conversational. I'm not in an e-commerce company but I want to understand something of the changes ahead as we move to an information-based economy. If that's you, too, read this book, along with Berners-Lee's Weaving the Web; then read Evans and Wurster's Blown to Bits and (maybe) Kelly's New Rules for the New Economy, and you will have a bunch of new ideas, I promise.
I wish I'd read this book when it first came out.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Julie on April 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
What is Digital? Is it merely as simple as the "information superhighway?" Or, is it a complex web of intermingled electronics destined to replace everything home, hearth and workplace?
In this, the Technology Age, one is lead to believe it's either get on the bandwidth-to modify the phrase--or die a slow, excruciating information death, like a victim of Civil War Gangrene.
Negroponte takes all us pseudo-techies, the ones who are too ashamed to admit they just don't quite get `it', and guides us down the path of digital history. As a founder of MIT's Media Lab, a place where technology is studied for fun and academics, Negroponte is certainly qualified to discuss such things. He does so comfortably and simply, explaining digital technology in a concise and entertaining manner. The format is precise, the prose is easy-to-read. This is a man one could truly envision enjoying a cup of microwaved coffee with.
Negroponte explains technological history and its implications on society in basic terms that any literate luddite could process. The premise is based in a clever analogy: Atoms (the real, tangible items we see, touch, use each day) vs. Bits (it's the packets of information stupid!). Atoms are the tangible stuff that comprise everything physical; bottled water, books, computers. Bits are the invisibly-invisible minute pieces of information upon which much of modern society relies; credit as we swipe our bankcard at the grocery; on-demand instant information via the web; e-mail rather than antiquated parchment air-mail letters.
Understanding the digital phenomenon is easy with Negroponte. The chapters are almost flashcard/sound bite like.
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