Book Review:The Best Technology Writing 2010

Some people have pilgrimages that they go to every year — some place in the world that strikes their fancy or addresses some need they have for the year. Me? I have a few book series that I look forward to each December into January of each year, and one of my anticipated series has become The Best Technology Writing series put out by Yale University Press. This year, the editor is Julian Dibbell and the collection, as usual, is very strong and interesting and certainly food for much thought. What I like, too, is that this is not a cheerleading manifesto or love letter to technology. It’s an exploration of the good and the bad and the unknown as technology infuses all of our lives.

Here are some of the articles collected in this book:

  • Evan Ratliff writes an interesting piece (from Wired) about slipping away from the grid and trying to hide in an experimental piece done with the magazine. His task was to remain hidden from the prying eyes of technology (credit cards, electronic records, etc/) but still live a sort of life for an extended period of time. The article, “Vanish,” brings us both Ratliff’s reflections while “on the run” while also giving us his rich, reflective perspectives of how connected to the electronic world we really are. He really has to work to stay hidden. Meanwhile, the article also keeps track of the many Wired readers who were trying to track him down through crowdsourcing and databases and GPS systems, and how they eventually did find him.
  • Lawrence Weschler profiles the artist David Hockney and his passion for creating art on his iPhone. The article, from The New York Times Review of Books, goes into the concepts of artistry changing in this modern age, and how mobile devices can both limit and expand what we consider art, and what we consider art distribution.
  • “Handwriting is History” by Anne Trubek, from Miller-McCune, was a fascinating look at the history of handwriting and how technology is changing those perceptions of how we write with our hands, scribbling on paper. I am one of those people whose mind is more connected to my keyboard because my fingers keep up better than when I am trying to write with pen and paper. Trubek explores this idea of the mind connected to how we write.
  • David Carr’s column from The New York Times entitled “The Rise and Fall of Media” is not quite a postmortem on newspapers and magazines, but close. Or least, newspapers and magazines as we have traditionally known them. Carr ponders what is happening to media these days and wonders where it is going in this Age of Disruption.
  • The book ends with a Tweet by astronaut Michael James Massimino as he orbits the planet. “From orbit: Listening to Sting on my ipod watching the world go by — literally.”

And that is just a small bit of what is in this book. If you have an interest in technology in the bigger picture — the wide angle lens, so to speak — then I would recommend this book collection.

Peace (in the books),

  1. Thanks for the recommendation. I ordered the book as well. I caught Ratliff’s article in Wired (great magazine) and remember it being a lot of fun to read. Looking forward to this compilation’s other offerings.

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