Review: FutureHype: The Myths Of TechnologyMay 2, 2020
Author: Bob Seidensticker
In an age where there is considerable hype about the wonders of modern technology, Bob Seidensticker prods us to take a step back and put everything into a more realistic perspective or as he most aptly states, we should vaccinate ourselves against hype.
Seidensticker’s principal theme in FutureHype: The Myths Of Technology Change is that the pace of technological change does not increase exponentially. According to Seidensticker, although we may be living in an era of fast change, this does not imply that we are the only ones to have experienced this phenomenon. In earlier times people had their own examples of fast change and to discover if our times are really unique, it is necessary that today’s social change be compared to that of the past. In fact, as Seidensticker warns us, “the popular perception of modern technology is inflated and out of step with reality.”
Divided into two parts, the book first illustrates how we fall into the trap of incorrectly and myopically seeing technology. Seidensticker underlines his contentions with several concrete examples that are elaborated upon throughout this first section.
As an example, we are reminded that a technology might be innovative, but the product that we build from that technology does not necessarily have to be revolutionary, particularly if our predictions are off the mark. It is to be remembered that predictions are often more of a picture of the present rather than the future and there is often a danger of careless extrapolation.
The Internet may be able to provide us with a great deal of information, however, will this lead us to being better informed. Probably not, as the downside is that much of the information is unreliable and pure garbage!
One of the hypes we are all bombarded with daily is that we should blindly trust modern technology and put all of our eggs in one basket. This is all great until the basket breaks, as we become increasingly dependent on software that sometimes is filled with bugs or where we have fragile and brittle technology. No doubt, all of this has created much of the insecurity we feel today in our modern world.
The second part of the book takes a look at the constancy of change in a broad spectrum of areas-popular culture, health and safety, fear and anxiety, personal technologies, and business. We are provided with an excellent survey of the history of technology that is illustrated with stories from thousands of years of human advance proving to us that technological change is not unique to our day.
FutureHype: The Myths Of Technology Change immerses readers with a challenging study wherein technology is to be considered neither good, nor bad nor neutral. As Seidensticker states: “a technology isn’t inherently good or bad, but it will have an impact.” It is the impact that is important, as it will have a good side and a bad side.
Bob Seidensticker has spent twenty-five years in the technology industry and he holds thirteen software patents. His broad experience is quite in evidence with his insightful and compelling study, as he alerts his readers to the dangers of technology infatuation. He also cautions us that we should never lose sight of the myths that surround technology and the unexpected ways it evolves and affects our lives, while at the same time examining its downsides. As he concludes his book, he leaves us with a very important warning, “don’t be bullied into buying a particular technology because a vendor, an advertisement, or your nephew you tells you to.” Ask yourself if the product is right for you?