Monday, March 07, 2005

Computers

I recently blew the dust of George Basalla's 1988 classic The Evolution of Technology. His insights on the evolution of artifacts from the medieval and modern eras still resonate. When it comes to the post-modern, there are a few problems:

"By the mid-1980s the home computer boom appeared to be nothing more than a short-lived and, for some computer manufacturers, expensive fad. Consumers who were expected to use these machines to maintain their financial records, educate their children, and plan for the family's future ended up playing electronic games on them, an activity that soon lost its novelty, pleasure, and excitement. As a result a device that was initially heralded as the forerunner of a new technological era was a spectacular failure that threatened to bankrupt the firms that had invested billions of dollars in its development." (p. 185)

Oops.

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