By David Edgerton
From the books of H.G. Wells to the click releases of NASA, we're awash in clichéd claims approximately excessive technology's skill to alter the process heritage. Now, in The surprise of the Old, David Edgerton bargains a startling new and clean state of mind concerning the background of expertise, significantly revising our rules concerning the interplay of expertise and society some time past and within the current. He demanding situations us to view the background of know-how when it comes to what daily humans have really used-and proceed to use-rather than simply subtle innovations. certainly, many hugely touted applied sciences, from the V-2 rocket to the Concorde jet, were expensive mess ups, whereas many mundane discoveries, like corrugated iron, turn into highly very important all over the world. Edgerton reassesses the importance of such acclaimed innovations because the capsule and knowledge know-how, and underscores the ongoing value of unheralded know-how, debunking many notions concerning the implications of the "information age." A provocative background, The surprise of the Old offers a completely new manner of having a look traditionally on the dating among invention and innovation.
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Additional info for The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900
Nearly all of the vessels have been synthetic within the East. Wal-Mart is the biggest unmarried importer of bins within the united states, bringing in part one million each year, quite often from China. the nice lengthy increase and the newer growth within the East, China specifically, faraway from being essentially situations of successive technological revolutions, are in lots of methods inflexions of an identical technological and business revolution occurring in succession. in fact it's faraway from exact, however the similarities are impressive: the massive raise in agricultural productiveness, the growth of – now not least the previous classics akin to metal making – and the growth of ship-borne overseas alternate. In either instances the progressive nature of every period is masked via a deep political balance within the becoming nations. Politics, the kingdom and borders subject. seventy four surprise of outdated. indb seventy four 22/11/07 13:05:30 4 upkeep some of the nice dystopian novels of the 20 th century stay up for a destiny society that is extra technically complicated than the current, yet person who was once stagnant. those have been technological societies with no innovation. hence the technological societies in Zamyatin’s We, Huxley’s courageous New international and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four weren't innovative or innovative, even technologically. those are worlds of order with no swap, that have to be saved going. they're threatened by way of curious outlaws. Terry Gilliam in his dystopian movie of the Eighties, Brazil, captured either facets of this literature. The cutting edge contact was once that to the viewer the expertise was once not futuristic, yet essentially an extrapolation to the current of Nineteen Forties’ know-how. So too have been the values of the society that used them. there have been many references to upkeep, not only of the social order, however the technical order too. Repairmen from a crucial workplace seem as hideous brokers of the country, and cosmetic surgery, upkeep for the human physique, recurs as a subject. there's additionally, within the type of Robert De Niro, an outlaw repairman, who not just upkeep the method, yet is unfastened from it. probably the most enduring rules approximately know-how within the 20th century means that the basically human has been taken over by way of the synthetic. Nightmares approximately breakdown of the advanced international of artifice that makes smooth existence attainable propel deep issues in regards to the desire for self-discipline, order and balance to maintain the approach going. As one thinker of know-how famous within the Seventies: ‘In nearly no seventy five surprise of previous. indb seventy five 22/11/07 13:05:30 the surprise of the outdated example can artificial-rational structures be equipped and left by myself. They require persisted awareness, rebuilding, and service. everlasting vigilance is the cost of synthetic complexity. ’1 He famous too, that during a technological age we must always ask now not who governs, yet what governs: ‘government turns into the company of recognising what's beneficial and effective for the continuing functioning and elaboration of large-scale structures and the rational implementation in their happen necessities.