In August 1981 IBM introduced the IBM Personal Computer. While the Apple 1, developed by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, was actually the first personal computer on the market, IBM’s release of its PC had an immediate impact. Seeing the IBM name on a PC led credibility and consumers quickly embraced the usefulness of PCs for personal use. Within a decade PCs were a staple tool in American households. Along with the invention of the World Wide Web and mobile technologies, PCs have played a major role in the Digital Revolution.
The following books explore different aspects of the Digital Revolution—the innovators, robotics, automation, and most importantly–the human factor.
The Fourth Revolution: how the infosphere is reshaping human reality by Luciano Floridi : Who are we, and how do we relate to each other? Floridi argues that the explosive developments in Information and Communication Technologies is changing the answer to these fundamental human questions.
The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr: Carr warns about the dangers of robots and computers making human beings obsolete in the world of work and proposes that human beings must take a more dominant and less dependent role in how computer technology is being implemented and not be mindlessly carried along by a blind faith in technological advancement.
How We Got to Now: six innovations that made the modern world by Steven Johnson: Exploration of the “hummingbird effect,” unforeseeable chains of influence that change the world. Johnson notes innovation typically arises in one field—such as chemistry–but it does not rise alone—“ideas are fundamentally networks of other ideas,” and those tributary ideas likely came from many sources and disciplines, conditioned by the intellectual resources available at the time.
The inevitable: understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape your future by Kevin Kelly: Much of what will happen in the next thirty years is driven by technological trends that are already in motion. Kelly discusses how the coming changes in our lives—from virtual reality in the home to an on-demand economy to artificial intelligence embedded in everything we manufacture—can be understood as the result of a few long-term, accelerating forces.
The Innovators: how a group of inventors, hackers, geniuses, and geeks created the digital revolution by Walter Isaacson: A history of the people who created the computer and the Internet. Isaacson discusses the process through which innovation happens in the modern world, citing the pivotal contributions of such figures as Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, Bill Gates, and Tim Berners-Lee.
Machines of Loving Grace: the quest for common ground between humans and robots by John Markoff offers a sweeping history of the evolving relationship between humans and computers. Markoff argues that we are on the verge of a technological revolution, and robots will profoundly transform the way our lives are organized. Developers must now draw a bright line between what is human and what is machine, or risk upsetting the delicate balance between them.
Makers: the new industrial revolution by Chris Anderson: 3D Robotics co-founder and bestselling author Chris Anderson takes you to the front lines of a new industrial revolution as today’s entrepreneurs, using open source design and 3-D printing, bring manufacturing to the desktop.
Mind Change: how digital technologies are leaving their mark on our brains by Susan Greenfield: A comprehensive overview of the scientific research into the effects of cybertechnology on our brains.
Present Shock: when everything happens now by Douglas Rushkoff: We live in a continuous now- enabled by Twitter, email, and a so-called real-time technological shift. Rushkoff argues that the dissonance between our digital selves and our analog bodies has thrown us into a new state of anxiety: present shock.
Reclaiming conversation: the power of talk in a digital age by Sherry Turkle: The founding director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self explores the danger that text messaging is replacing in-depth, face-to-face conversation.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson: With a unique ability to meld arts and technology and an uncanny understanding of consumers’ desires, Apple founder Steve Jobs (1955–2011) played a major role in transforming not just computer technology, but a variety of industries. Isaacson’s impeccably researched, vibrant biography—fully endorsed by his subject—does his legacy proud.
Technopoly: the surrender of culture to technology by Neil Postman: Postman chronicles our transformation into a Technopoly: a society that no longer merely uses technology as a support system but instead is shaped by it–with radical consequences for the meanings of politics, art, education, intelligence, and truth.
The Wonderful Future that Never Was by Gregory Benford and the editors of Popular Mechanics: Reveals predictions made in “Popular Mechanics” magazine between 1903 and 1969 about what the future would hold! “Surrounded by wonders and a fast-evolving culture of innovation, it’s just as challenging today for us to imagine the next century as it must have been for our early 20th century colleagues to envision the fabled year 2000.”