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I Live in the Future & Here's How It Works: Why Your World, Work & Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted Paperback – October 4, 2011
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—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
About the Author
- Publisher : Currency; 1st edition (October 4, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0307591123
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307591128
- Item Weight : 10 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.22 x 0.66 x 7.96 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,473,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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More Than a few pages are devoted to the ubiquity of pornography, a subject that seemingly has no historical beginning, no classical ending, and an invincibility that wars, economies and parodies are incapable of disempowering or displacing. In ancient Greece visitors will find statues and paintings of lewd and phallic models, A famous French writer boasted that his stories and books of sex sold more copies than were sold of the Bible. Current Web offerings include sex images and videos of porn that reflect considerable on-line demand subscriptions. In 2000 the industry captured an estimated annual revenue of $20 billion.
Before the Gutenberg printing press in the 1400's one of Europe's largest libraries (Cambridge) housed a total of 122 books all of which were made by hand. The current Internet has 2 billion users.
Today consumers are buying music, concert tickets, nonfiction books, movie seats, and of course porn. But the newsprint industry is in decline as providers are going out of business in large numbers.
Futurists envision an Internet of Things where sensors embedded in our underclothing, and elsewhere, will provide weather and other information in real time with regularity. Change is a constant that cannot be controlled, will not ever stop, and is currently at the mercy of the Internet and other technologies.
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.
Top reviews from other countries
Bilton writes lively about the above mentioned subjects (and some more) and he definitely knows how to present difficult facts and lines of arguments in a clear and thoughtful manner. His book is interesting and he writes engaging.
However, not all is good in my opinion. Bilton holds quite a pragmatic view with regards to the present and the future. His bigger picture consists of 'faster and better access to information', that's what counts. All else has to be sacrificed on this altar. Because of this view, he stays away of answering questions about the morality of the things that are happening. What happens when we are only exposed to opinions that are similar to our own? Will we unlearn living with sets of ideas that are different than ours? What are the philosophical developments that are being build upon? How does a 'generation me' regard truth? What happens to religion when everyone is focused on him- or herself? He neither goes into how it changes the depth and breadth of relations in the real world, and how it effects the way people learn. These questions deserve answers, and Bilton's subtitle ("Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted") implied that they were to be answered in the book. They are not.
Well, in the last chapter he devotes a few paragraphs to these questions, but only in a very restricted manner ("give our youth a place to do stupid things"). He, however, never answers any of the big questions. The book is good, but it would have been much stronger if questions like the ones I mentioned were addressed as well.
I started this book very much resistant to its message. I hung on to my resistance throughout. So, I wasn't a very good disciple, I'm afraid.
If you are ready to surrender, then give yourself over to Nick's message without resistance. You will enjoy it. Otherwise, hold on tight and don't be taken in!