- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (September 3, 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140097015
- ISBN-13: 978-0140097016
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,046,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at M. I. T. Reprint Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
The creator-editor of the Whole Earth Catalog offers a close-up view of what research scientists at MIT's Media Lab are dreaming up for the coming century. "This is visionary material," declared PW , "demanding reading even for those knowledgeable about the communications revolution." Photos.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Brand (the Whole Earth Catalog, the Whole Earth Software Catalog ) went to the MIT Media Lab for three months, seeking to gain a clear view of the future. Later, he studied the field of communications technologysifting the data he collected, reading the journals, and analyzing the Lab's activities. The resulting book examines the Lab's various programs and considers the direction and consequences of the communications revolution worldwide. The work being done at MIT is fascinating: multidisciplinary, multimedia communications research that "assumes that if it the Media Lab helps take care of the individual, computer-augmented individuals will take better care of the world." Brand's philosophical musings are fascinating, too, and thought-provoking. For general readers and specialists. Hilary D. Burton, Lawrence Livermore National Lab. , Livermore, Cal.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
After reading it, I lost it somewhere along the way. I came here to see if I could find a copy to re-read it and check my memory. It really should be an interesting read after all these years for anyone interested in the process and history of science.
There is one characteristic of this text that doesn't appear to be mentioned by other reviewers, however, and that is its "time capsule" aspect. That is, Brand does a pretty good job of transporting the reader "back" to the mid-late 80s, when the book was written. Not only are the technologies indicators of the time, but the socio-political landscape as well (at least as far as I remember it). I think that, for today's reader, Brand's excellent explorations of the impact of Reaganomics, Japan's usurping of American manufacturing, the globalizing impact of technology, etc. provide tremendous value.
I think that it is a somewhat rare thing for an author to so wholly encapsulate a time such that the later reader can access the notions and movements of an age so effectively. Brand provides such a rare glimpse in this work - a time portal back to the mid-80s, if you will. As a chapter in the history of computing, I think that most will agree that this work is a worthwhile addition. I suspect that most readers will also find this an interesting trip back to an earlier time.
Brand's material is almost twenty years old now. The sections in which he discussed the historical development of the Media Lab or its projects remain relevant for today's readers. But unfortunately, a great deal of the book was an attempt to look into the future; hence it became outdated as prediction almost as soon as it was written. What's quite interesting today, however, is to see that almost every project that Brand predicts will have some chance of success has actually become commonplace today. For prediction, that's an incredible track record. Did Brand achieve this by sticking only to cutting edge technologies, those that were just on the very edge of leaving the lab for the real world? Were there other projects at the time that Brand didn't choose to write about here because they were obviously going nowhere? It would be a an interesting project to look back to see the actual status of these projects at the time.
I picked up this book because I was interested in learning more about the culture of the Media Lab. In my own years at MIT, the Lab certainly had a reputation for the uniqueness of its faculty and for attracting students who were highly original as well as capable. It was hard to learn more about the Lab, however, unless you were a part of it. This book, with its emphasis on predicting future technologies, didn't real satisfy my curiosity about the Media Lab. The book contains a few interviews with leading figures in the lab such as Andy Lippman and Danny Hills. But the interviews don't quite succeed at conveying the personalities of these people along with their viewpoints. Instead, they seem to add to the feeling that this book is a personal record of the variety of experiences Brand encountered during his visit.
We're told that Negroponte views all communication technologies as a single subject and the process itself as a craft. He divides advertising into two categories, "advertising as noise" and "advertising as news."
This book goes to show that while the delivery systems are always changing, content is significant. Some of the technologies which were relatively new at the time this book came out are commonplace now. The philosophical insights Brand makes are worth consideration at any time. As a result this book is still pertinent.
However, a large portion of the book is spent describing specific projects, many of which are obviously a little out of date. Don't get the wrong idea, though. These projects were obviously very exciting when new. Further, some of the projects still seem so far out that I would not be surprised to see them announced as new research in 2000!
All in all, recommended. But perhaps you're better off skimming a copy from your local library than buying this one. That's why 3 stars instead of 4.