The Shock of the Old : Technology and Global History Since 1900
From the books of H.G. Wells to the press releases of NASA, we are awash in cliched claims about high technology's ability to change the course of history. Now, in The Shock of the Old, David Edgerton offers a startling new and fresh way of thinking about the history of technology, radically revising our ideas about the interaction of technology and society in the past and in the present. He challenges us to view the history of technology in terms of what everyday people have actually used-and continue to use-rather than just sophisticated inventions. Indeed, many highly touted technologies, from the V-2 rocket to the Concorde jet, have been costly failures, while many mundane discoveries, like corrugated iron, become hugely important around the world. Edgerton reassesses the significance of such acclaimed inventions as the Pill and information technology, and underscores the continued importance of unheralded technology, debunking many notions about the implications of the "information age." A provocative history, The Shock of the Old provides an entirely new way of looking historically at the relationship between invention and innovation.
- Hardback | 270 pages
- 154.94 x 236.22 x 25.4mm | 521.63g
- 22 Jan 2007
- Oxford University Press, USA
- Oxford, England, United States
- Illustrations, unspecified
About Hans Rausing Professor David Edgerton
David Edgerton is the Hans Rausing Professor at Imperial College, London, where he was the founding director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.
"Provocative, concise, and elegant..."The Shock of the Old" is a necessary reminder of just how important things are in our lives, and how important we are in the life of things."--The New Yorker"Most histories of technology and considerations of the interaction of technology and society stress invention and innovation. Thus accounts of the 20th century typically progress from automobiles, airplanes, and radio through rockets, nuclear power, and computers to today's frontiers of information, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. In opposition to this future-focused approach, Edgerton offers a convincing case that we ought to pay far more attention to what people actually used and still use... fresh and accessible account..."--Science Magazine"The Shock of the Old is a pathbreaking work...a bold and necessarily preliminary reconnaissance, in brief, in the direction of a comprehensively contextualized view of technology."--American Scientist"The history of technology is often told as a history of key inventions: the electric light bulb, the motor car, nuclear weapons, and so on. The Shock of the Old is a lucid and completely convincing rebuttal of that received narrative.--Journal of American History"David Edgerton's book has a provocative thesis that will stimulate considerable discussion. The Shock of the Old will surely appear on professorial reading lists for both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as attracting the interest of general readers."--Isis, The Journal of the Historyof Science Society"This refreshing new book offers a wonderfully sobering antidote to the neotechnophilia that often characterizes our society. In his romp through 20th-century technology, Edgerton marvels not at the progression of new technologies but at the persistence of old ones and the ways in which they have shaped, and continue to shape, the fabric of our lives. He challenges the innovation-centered stories that have come to dominate rece