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Morning Must-Read: Cory Doctorow: Reviewing Steven Johnson's "How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World"

Cory Doctorow: Reviewing "How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World": "In How We Got to Now...

...[Steven] Johnson picks six profound technologies and follows their path from earliest prehistory to the modern age... glass (from Venetian glassblowers to telescopes and microscopes); cold (from icehouses to modern refrigeration, and the way our food infrastructure, medical science, and geography have been transformed by the ability to manipulate heat); sound (from early chanted ritual to phonographs, to music, urban noise, and radar); hygiene (the key innovations that let cities grow without being destroyed by disease, the germ theory of medicine, and clean rooms in microprocessor factories); time (early astronomy, the age of navigation and the Longitude Prize, the industrial revolution and the timeclock, and microsecond timing in modern computers); and, finally, light (from candles to whaling; the changes to human sleep cycles thanks to artificial light, lasers and electron microscopy).

Each of these six lively stories is a tapestry worn of fascinating technical tid-bits and engrossing stories of personal sacrifice, genius, error, foolishness and difficulty from the cluster of inventors who are responsible for each one...