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I Live in the Future & Here's How It Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 14, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his first book, Bilton, lead technology writer for the New York Times and an avowed technophile whose professional life is defined by effectively anticipating and analyzing new tech trends, focuses on how mobile devices like iPads and smart phones have changed the corporate landscape. Content distribution, personalized marketing, and protection of profits are of paramount concern to companies, yet many are ill-equipped to address the changing attitudes of the younger generation. While Bilton deftly synthesizes content from the evolution of the porn industry to the relevance of Twitter, he has little to say to people who have actually followed or embraced these tech shifts. But people who view the iPad as a fad or hold their breath for the comeback of conventional newspapers will be educated by Bilton's straightforward analysis. He does a particularly good job of comparing the development of the Internet to past technological advances like the railroad and the printing press (though he could explore more deeply in order to better explain his reasoning). Though savvy readers will find nothing new here, the more technophobic among us will benefit.
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Review

"A bold and provocative look at the future of storytelling. It’s about the virtues of video games, the science of cocktail parties, and the new business model of journalism.  It’s about a world in which the medium is mostly irrelevant, and the message is everything. Read this book if you want to get your message right.”
—Jonah Lehrer
, author of the New York Times bestseller How We Decide


“Nick Bilton has written a rollicking, upbeat guide to the digital world—a peek into our near future, where news, storytelling, and even human identity are transformed. It’s a fascinating book from a man who has helped pilot the New York Times into a new age of online journalism. If you’re wondering—or worried—about the future of media, this is your road map.”
—Clive Thompson
, Wired magazine columnist and contributing editor


Bilton doesn’t just live in the future, he also understands the past. I Live in the Future explains how our communications tools shaped our present, how new tools are shaping our future, and what we should do to take advantage of all this opportunity.”
—Clay Shirky, author of Cognitive Surplus and Here Comes Everybody
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; First Edition edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307591115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307591111
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought the book because I assumed by its title that it will be a clever analysis of how the near future (next 5 years) will look like, evaluating trends and things to notice and maybe make sure that we're part of on a business level.
But the book was less about the "I live in the future and this is how it looks" and much more about the sub-title "Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted". The review of different current trends is nice for someone who's not involved in this fields already. So if the book wasn't called "I live in the future" it would be a good description of what it is and I'd probably wouldn't have been as disappointed.
So if you're looking for future trends this isn't the book for you (there are just a few highlights in that regard). If you're looking for some overview of the current trends then this is good enough.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If by the future, you mean "Person in Brooklyn who likes gadgets and has a tech blog" then it's an accurate title. This book is really already so dated (after a year and a half) that it feels about as relevant as an article about the ipad 2.

Mr. Bilton would like to be a tech guru and prognosticator, and maybe he knows something more than what's in this book, but content-wise he just doesn't present any new ideas or unifying themes. The analysis doesn't go beyond what appear to be a series of blog-length commentaries stitched together. I would be surprised if there are companies out there who would take this seriously as a guide to future trends; it's just so surface-level and I can't see any real reason to see this as profound.

Problems are often in a complete misunderstanding of the arguments in the area (interpreting 3 hours of action video gaming as "long form" media), and more especially in a lack of ownership of ideas ("according to ...."). This would like to be a Malcolm Gladwell book, but while Gladwell brings simplicity to a complex topic, it's not just by dumbing things down, but by articulating real ideas -- whether you agree with him or not -- and bringing some substance to the debate while keeping things readable. What this book needs is a reason to exist besides being a career-promoting vehicle for a blogger.
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Format: Hardcover
Bilton's book is the latest in a line of prognostication about how technology will impact the future. When you read, start with the manifesto-like epilogue that strangely should have started the book. I don't wonder if that change would have given the book a more impassioned start. Bilton starts to gain steam about halfway through, his chapter on suggestion and swarms being my favorite and ends with both commentary on various segments of media and reporting on some of the protoyping he did while working in the New York Times R&D lab. Technophiles will be similarly frustrated by the early going but rewarded for sticking with it.
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Format: Hardcover
Overall I enjoyed Nick Bilton's book. It was thought provoking. As the title suggests Nick uses himself as a protagonist who lives in the future. One quote in the book explains this concept: "The future is already here - it is just evenly distributed" - William Gibson. Being a technology researcher and blogger for the New York Times, the author is an extreme early adopter who's job is to have a running commentary as he goes. He's experiencing technologies today that your average user only experiences much later (and only if it takes off). Much of the book presents arguments in favour of technology to counter negative claims against it.

In a nod to the subject, I tweeted my thoughts while reading the book on the train to work in the mornings. You can see the tweets by typing the following search string in Google: "site:twitter.com #ILiveInFuture".

The single most interesting point I found in the book I summarized in the following tweet:
"@nickbilton #ILiveInFuture New technology overwhelming our brains? Like written words did? Letters and words were also invented by man."

Almost everyone references Gutenberg when discussing disruptive technologies, but before reading #ILiveInFuture it has never occurred to me that the written word is a man-made invention. How would the technology naysayers cope if "technology" included their beloved written word? (a means to many of their livelihoods).

This isn't a book of answers; reading this book is a good way to get caught up the latest technologies, and stimulate your own thinking about their impact.
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Format: Paperback
All fanatics are unpleasantly fanatical in the same way, and this holds true for Internet evangelicals, who believe that the Internet is a democratizing force that is empowering individuals all over the globe. Nick Bilton compares the Internet to the printing press, which while derided by the political elite and clergy at that time, did go on to make Enlightenment, science, and progress all possible.

The Internet is certainly a good thing, but Bilton believes that all of technology (it's sometimes hard to differentiate the two in this book) is necessarily good, and goes out of his way to "prove" why this must be so. And like all fanatics what ultimately drives Bilton's fanaticism is his doubt.

The book is riddled with logical inconsistencies, and offers little in terms of nuance analysis and argument. Mid-way through the book, Bilton is discussing the bonding power of individuals and their mobile phone, and he uses a scientific experiment to explore love and bonding. In the experiment, mothers were taken away from their baby chimpanzees, leaving them isolated and depressed -- some even killed themselves. The researchers did put in a fake mother made of clothes, and the babies bonded closely with the fake mother. Researchers also discovered that deprived of real life contact, baby chimpanzees would seek to bond with just about anything -- even the cloth pads that lined their cages. There's a parable here --do we bond with our mobiles because of the loss of human connection in real life? -- but Bilton completely misses it, and glibly comments "Those findings also let psychologists to believe that connections to comforting objects can be as important as actual human physical contact".
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