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Conventional thinking ascribes the invention of technologies to "thinking outside the box", or vaguely to genius or creativity, but Arthur shows that such explanations are inadequate. Rather, technologies are put together from pieces - themselves technologies - that already exist. Technologies therefore share common ancestries and combine, morph, and combine again to create further technologies. Technology evolves much as a coral reef builds itself from activities of small organisms -- it creates itself from itself; all technologies are descended from earlier technologies.
Drawing on a wealth of examples, from historical inventions to the high-tech wonders of today, and writing in wonderfully engaging and clear prose, Arthur takes us on a mind-opening journey that will change the way we think about technology and how it structures our lives.
"We launched Java based on Brian Arthur's ideas." (Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Rob on 12-28-15
I found this book truly thought-provoking. While the style of writing could potentially feel a bit pedantic to some, the author's way of breaking down and then reconstructing technology is wonderfully logical and comprehensive. His examples resonate and illuminate his thesis quite well. I found myself applying the concepts to countless additional technological developments and feeling that this book helped me interpret them quite effectively. I especially liked the thoughtful way he connected technology to economic development, which I find few other writers have done in a way that helps further understanding of either technology or the economy.
The narration was notable for being not very notable.