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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
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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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"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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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.
There's just one great lie about this book: that it's about the future. I almost didn't read it for that reason - guesses about the future are wrong so often that you might as well just read science fiction. But that's not what the author's writing about. He tells us about the present, speeding by us at 100 mph. From the opening admission that he no longer reads his own paper (at least not on paper) to the cautionary ending, this is only about the future insofar as you're not keeping up with the present.
And this present is a delight indeed.
It takes along and broad view of how technology is changing culture and, in particular, media. It looks at the important 'slow' impact and delivers some important thinking in a provocative, fun wrtiting style that moves at a good clip. I devoured the book in one flight.
Alongside Shirky's 'Cognitive Surplus' and Kevin Kelly's forthcoming 'What Technology Wants' this is one of three important books this year that gives us a better map of the impact of technology. Well worth a read.
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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