Future Imperfect by Howard P. Segal, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Future Imperfect

Future Imperfect

by Howard P. Segal
     
 
'A collection of illuminating essays on the many ways that technology has affected American society... A thoughtful book that should be a 'must read' for anyone interested in how society copes with technology.' -- The Futurist

Overview

'A collection of illuminating essays on the many ways that technology has affected American society... A thoughtful book that should be a 'must read' for anyone interested in how society copes with technology.' -- The Futurist

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this somewhat specialized inquiry into views of technology, Segal ( Technological Utopianism in American Culture ) begins by reexamining the traditional opposition of nature and technology; he explores what Leo Marx called the ``middle landscape''--the fusion of nature and civilization in response to industrialization--positing the suburbs as an example. He also examines the role of the automobile in negotiating that landscape. Then he analyzes the ambivalence towards technology expressed by the ``good old days'' display at the newly reopened Armington and Sims Machine Shop and Foundry (in Dearborn, Mich.), originally founded by Henry Ford. Looking at literature, he explores the technological vision of Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward ; the unusual women-only 1890 utopian novel Mizora by Mary E. Bradley Lane; and the anti-utopianism of Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano . The United States, suggests the author, retains a spirit of technological utopianism (as evidenced by the celebration of ``smart bombs'' and Patriot missiles in the Gulf War). He goes on to discuss the ironies of the current push for technological literacy; for example, the democratic rhetoric of its advocates does not match the idea's inherent elitism. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Jan.)
Booknews
In a series of case studies, Segal reconsiders the American ideology of technological progress and its legacy. He offers examples--drawn from US history, literature, and museums--of the role of technology in American life and the complex relationship between technological advances and social developments. In each instance, he finds technology neither wholly good nor wholly bad, but rather a mixed blessing. Paper edition (unseen), $15.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Mary Carroll
After briefly reviewing the complex development of "the American ideology of technological progress," Segal offers critiques and case studies of historians (Tocqueville and "modernization," Leo Marx's "middle landscape," and students of the Automobile Age and its prospects), of utopian and dystopian technological visions (from Edward Bellamy, Mary E. Bradley Lane, Kurt Vonnegut, and Lewis Mumford), and of the overt and covert attitudes toward technology and culture manifested in technological museums and museum exhibits. In a final section, Segal examines the ironies of the ways contemporary technological optimism, "misusing and abusing as well as ignoring history, promotes high tech's products and its ideology: prophecies, advertising, world's fairs/theme parks, and the technological literacy crusade." A challenging and nuanced examination of the interplay of man and machine in the nation's past, present, and future.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780870238819
Publisher:
University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date:
01/10/1994
Pages:
264
Lexile:
1580L (what's this?)

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