Faster : Our Race Against Time

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Time rules our lives. The frenetic purpose - more than we want to admit, is to save time. Think of one of those conveniences that best convey the most elemental feeling of power over the passing seconds: the microwave oven. In your hurry sickness, you may find yourself punching 88 seconds instead of 90 because it is faster to tap the same digit twice. Do you stand at the microwave for that minute and a half? Or is that long enough to make a quick call or run in the next room to finish paying a bill? If haste is the gas pedal for the pace of our lives, then multi-tasking is overdrive. FASTER dissects with acute insight and mordant wit our unceasing daily struggle to squeeze as much as we can - but never enough - into the 1440 minutes of each day. Speed is the key strategy for saving time, and James Gleick shows us how in just about every area - from business cycle time to beeper medicine, from Federal Express to quick playback buttons on answering machines, from the pace of television to our growing need to do two things at once, how speed has become the experience we all have in common - it, more than the message, is what connects more

Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 126 x 192 x 24mm | 281.23g
  • Little, Brown Book Group
  • Abacus
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0349112924
  • 9780349112923
  • 1,025,136

About James Gleick

James Gleick was an editor and reporter at the New York Times for ten years. He is the author of GENIUS and also CHAOS, which was nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in New York more

Review Text

In a hurry? This book will tell why - and how our times became so time-obsessed. After a visit to the Directorate of Time, the US agency responsible for determining the exact time, Gleick (Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, 1992, etc.) examines that symbol of the man in a hurry, the Type A personality. As it turns out, the study that gave us that symbol was badly flawed, and yet the symbol was so apt that it has stuck with us. Time pressure weighs on us all, so that waiting - for anything - has become not an opportunity to look around and see what's going on, but a nuisance to be gotten out of the way. The "close door" button on the elevator - which may or may not really do anything - is a symbol of that burry, and it leads to a discussion of elevator technology, which leads to a discussion of how the wristwatch displaced the pocket watch, and how the watch became electronic, and how it has become more than just a timepiece. This free-association organization allows Gleick to cover a wide range of subjects, one short chapter at a time. So we get an examination of H.G. Wells's Prof. Gibberne, who invented a potion to allow himself to live at high speed, and a history of stop-motion photography, which for the first time allowed the analysis of actions too fast for the eye to grasp in their details. The phrase "real time" comes in for dissection, and Gleick makes the point that it describes something for which we didn't need a word before the computer made it necessary. The book goes on to examine such modern phenomena as time and motion analysis, the quick-cut editing style of MTV videos, telephone redial buttons, multitasking, and dozens of other fascinating offshoots of our obsession with time. Lively, detailed, and briskly written - this book is a fount of interesting information. Well worth your time. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

A bite sized, zippy little book is packed with myriad manifestations of the Need for Speed DAILY EXPRESS A book that you can dip in and out of at will, always coming up with an intriguing fact or statistic SUNDAY TIMES Gleick offers a lot of witty observation that's worth more than a few of your precious minutes FOCUS It's an important portrait of an age; a learned, witty, eclectic treatise, and it might even help you to slow down. So don't hang around- go out and buy it right now. OBSERVER 'A highly readable dissection of our speed-obsessed age'show more