Thomas Edison's greatest invention? His own fame.
At the height of his fame Thomas Alva Edison was hailed as "the Napoleon of invention" and blazed in the public imagination as a virtual demigod. Starting with the first public demonstrations of the phonograph in 1878 and extending through the development of incandescent light and the first motion picture cameras, Edison's name became emblematic of all the wonder and promise of the emerging age of technological marvels.
But as Randall Stross makes clear in this critical biography of the man who is arguably the most globally famous of all Americans, Thomas Edison's greatest invention may have been his own celebrity. Edison was certainly a technical genius, but Stross excavates the man from layers of myth-making and separates his true achievements from his almost equally colossal failures. How much credit should Edison receive for the various inventions that have popularly been attributed to him--and how many of them resulted from both the inspiration and the perspiration of his rivals and even his own assistants?
This bold reassessment of Edison's life and career answers this and many other important questions while telling the story of how he came upon his most famous inventions as a young man and spent the remainder of his long life trying to conjure similar success. We also meet his partners and competitors, presidents and entertainers, his close friend Henry Ford, the wives who competed with his work for his attention, and the children who tried to thrive in his shadow--all providing a fuller view of Edison's life and times than has ever been offered before. The Wizard of Menlo Park reveals not only how Edison worked, but how he managed his own fame, becoming the first great celebrity of the modern age.
This lushly illustrated history of popular entertainment takes a long-zoom approach, contending that the pursuit of novelty and wonder is a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change. Steven Johnson argues that, throughout history, the cutting edge of innovation lies wherever people are working the hardest to keep themselves and others amused. Johnson's storytelling is just as delightful as the inventions he describes, full of surprising stops along the journey from simple concepts to complex modern systems. He introduces us to the colorful innovators of leisure: the explorers, proprietors, showmen, and artists who changed the trajectory of history with their luxurious wares, exotic meals, taverns, gambling tables, and magic shows. In Wonderland, Johnson compellingly argues that observers of technological and social trends should be looking for clues in novel amusements. You'll find the future wherever people are having the most fun.
WTF? can be an expression of amazement or an expression of dismay. In today's economy, we have far too much dismay along with our amazement, and technology bears some of the blame. In this combination of memoir, business strategy guide, and call to action, Tim O'Reilly, Silicon Valley's leading intellectual and the founder of O'Reilly Media, explores the upside and the potential downsides of today's WTF? technologies.
What is the future when an increasing number of jobs can be performed by intelligent machines instead of people, or done only by people in partnership with those machines? What happens to our consumer based societies--to workers and to the companies that depend on their purchasing power? Is income inequality and unemployment an inevitable consequence of technological advancement, or are there paths to a better future? What will happen to business when technology-enabled networks and marketplaces are better at deploying talent than traditional companies? How should companies organize themselves to take advantage of these new tools? What's the future of education when on-demand learning outperforms traditional institutions? How can individuals continue to adapt and retrain? Will the fundamental social safety nets of the developed world survive the transition, and if not, what will replace them?
O'Reilly is the man who can really can make a whole industry happen, according to Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet (Google.) His genius over the past four decades has been to identify and to help shape our response to emerging technologies with world shaking potential--the World Wide Web, Open Source Software, Web 2.0, Open Government data, the Maker Movement, Big Data, and now AI. O'Reilly shares the techniques he's used at O'Reilly Media to make sense of and predict past innovation waves and applies those same techniques to provide a framework for thinking about how today's world-spanning platforms and networks, on-demand services, and artificial intelligence are changing the nature of business, education, government, financial markets, and the economy as a whole. He provides tools for understanding how all the parts of modern digital businesses work together to create marketplace advantage and customer value, and why ultimately, they cannot succeed unless their ecosystem succeeds along with them.
The core of the book's call to action is an exhortation to businesses to DO MORE with technology rather than just using it to cut costs and enrich their shareholders. Robots are going to take our jobs, they say. O'Reilly replies, "Only if that's what we ask them to do Technology is the solution to human problems, and we won't run out of work till we run out of problems. Entrepreneurs need to set their sights on how they can use big data, sensors, and AI to create amazing human experiences and the economy of the future, making us all richer in the same way the tools of the first industrial revolution did. Yes, technology can eliminate labor and make things cheaper, but at its best, we use it to do things that were previously unimaginable What is our poverty of imagination? What are the entrepreneurial leaps that will allow us to use the technology of today to build a better future, not just a more efficient one? Whether technology brings the WTF? of wonder or the WTF? of dismay isn't inevitable. It's up to us
Zero to Maker is part memoir and part how-to guidebook for anyone who is having thoughts like these:
I feel like all I can do is write emails. I wish I had more hands-on skills even though I don't know what I would build...
I have this one idea I've always wanted to make, but I don't know how to build it...
I keep hearing about the "maker movement" but I'm not sure what that means or how I can join in...
The book follows author David Lang's headfirst dive into the maker world and shows how he grew from an unskilled beginner to be a successful entrepreneur. You'll discover how to navigate this new community of makers, and find the best resources for learning the tools and skills you need to be a dynamic maker in your own right.
The way we make things has changed. A new generation of tinkerers have emerged through online communities and powerful digital fabrication tools, and their creations are changing the world. This book follows the author's personal journey of transformation into a maker-entrepreneur. It is everyone's guide to combining inspiration and resources to effectively navigate this exciting new world.
Lang reveals how he became a maker pro after losing his job and how the experience helped him start OpenROV, a DIY community and product line focused on underwater robotics. It all happened once he became an active member of the maker movement. Ready to take the plunge into the next Industrial Revolution? This guide provides a clear and inspiring roadmap.
This book is for everyone who dreams of becoming a successful maker-entrepreneur. It not only satisfies the aspirational aspect but shows newcomers to the maker movement exactly how to join in.
First published in 2013, this new edition features full-color photos and shares David's latest insights and experiences as he continues to grow as a maker entrepreneur and citizen scientist.
Robert Friedel has written a fascinating history--full of strange twists, paradoxes, and interesting characters--of this signature gadget of the twentieth century. Inventor Whitcomb Judson (whose efforts lay mostly in patenting a doomed undertaking known as the Pneumatic Streetcar) gave the zipper life; businessman Colonel Lewis Walker had the capital and the faith to back it for forty years; and cultural icons such as Marlon Brando, Erica Jong, and the Rolling Stones helped to turn it into a symbol for sexuality and style.
Not just the story of a distinctive technology, Zipper is an entertaining, informative examination of how new things become part of our daily lives, shaping how we think and act.