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"If there's justice, it will win the Pulitzer Prize." --Seth Godin
"Nuh uh." -- me
I was suprised at how many scientific errors Mr. Kelly commits in laying out his thesis for this book. His thesis is solid, but he frequently and unnecessarily distorts scientific theory to support it. He clumsily argues that evolution has direction, citing prominent scientists like Richard Dawkins, despite that Dawkins has long asserted that any perceived destination for evolution results simply from our own narcissistic perspective. Kelly also uses several erroneous cliches about the history of human evolution to support his thesis. By the end of the book, I was disappointed that Kelly so poorly argued such an important thesis. For lack of better editors, this book ends up stuck between popular psychology and scholarly thought.
13 of 15 people found this review helpful
Kevin Kelly's contemplation of meaning, couched in terms of the "Technium" (all technology and its trends), which includes our minds, life itself, and indeed all the cosmos.
I like Kelly's description of history and the aforementioned contemplation of existence better than I like his assessment of present technology, or his transition to potential futures and proscriptive ways of living, but there were parts from each perspective I enjoyed and agreed with throughout the book.
That said, much of the best elaborated ideas are borrowed from contemporaries (e.g. techno-futurist Kurzweil), and what Kelly does try and establish himself is a mixed bag. I found myself alternately nodding vigorously in agreement and then shaking my head disappointedly at vague language, unjustified leaps, occasionally excessive proselytizing. In most cases I wanted Kelly to take the discussion he had built up so well in a different direction, and we diverged more frequently than I had expected to at the outset.
The book feels like it could be stronger in progression and thesis if it maintained a steady philosophical position throughout, but Kelly comes across as trying hard to reconcile his personal ambivalence over how to handle technology. He issues statements that fit nicely into prevailing Western scientific thought, only to act as if it were never said in a later chapter, letting Eastern philosophical wisdom and personal reflection do all the talking instead. My discomfort doesn't stem from his choosing one way of thinking over the other per se, but in his inconsistency. Perhaps over the seven years that Kelly wrote the book he changed his mind and mood back and forth, writing a chapter or two when his views leaned enough one way or the other. I wonder if he's not yet confidently settled on an ideology for himself, let alone the Technium, but if nothing else this informed self-discussion does make for a worthwhile read.
In sum, I liked the book... but I wanted to like it more.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful