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Being Digital 1st Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0679762904
ISBN-10: 0679762906
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette 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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (January 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679762906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679762904
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #512,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book, interesting to see how things have changed over the past 20 years. Negroponte gets a lot of things right.

The book first of all emphasises how far we have come when it talks about 9600 baud connections, I am writing this post sat on the end of an internet connection that provides 50mbps download and 10mbps upload – and that’s slow compared to the speeds that I enjoyed in Hong Kong. Negroponte envisioned that satellites would have a greater role in internet access than it seems to currently have, cellular networks seem to have brought that disruption instead.

It has the tone of boundless optimism that seemed to exemplify technology writing in the mid-to-late 1990s but with not quite the messianic feel of peer George Gilder. Negroponte smartly hedges his bets for where the ‘rubber hits the road’ as society brings some odd effects in on technology usage.

Negroponte grasped the importance of digital and the internet as a medium for the provision of media content. That sounds like a no brainer but back in the day the record industry didn’t get it. In fact record industry went on to make blockbuster profits for another five years, N’Sync was the best selling artist of the year in 2000 with No Strings Attached selling 9.94 million copies. Over the next decade or so profits halved in the face of determined record label countermeasures including suing their customers.

Negroponte was dismissive of high definition video and television considering it wasteful of bandwidth. On this I get the sense that he is both right and wrong. We are surrounded by high definition screens (even 4K mobile screens – where their size doesn’t allow you to appreciate the full clarity of the image).
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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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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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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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