Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology

Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology

by Eric Brende
3.4 12


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Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende

What happens when a graduate of MIT, the bastion of technological advancement, and his bride move to a community so primitive in its technology that even Amish groups consider it antiquated? Eric Brende conceives a real-life experiment: to see if, in fact, all our cell phones, wide-screen TVs, and SUVs have made life easier and better -- or whether life would be preferable without them. By turns, the query narrows down to a single question: What is the least we need to achieve the most? With this in mind, the Brendes ditch their car, electric stove, refrigerator, running water, and everything else motorized or "hooked to the grid" and begin an eighteen-month trial run -- one that dramatically changes the way they live, and proves entertaining and surprising to readers. Better OFF is a smart, often comedic, and always riveting book that also mingles scientific analysis with the human story, demonstrating how a world free of technological excess can shrink stress -- and waistlines -- and expand happiness, health, and leisure. Our notion that technophobes are backward gets turned on its head as the Brendes realize that the crucial technological decisions of their adopted Minimite community are made more soberly and deliberately than in the surrounding culture, and the result is greater -- not lesser -- mastery over the conditions of human existence.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060570057
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/02/2005
Series: P.S. Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,237,857
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Eric Brende has degrees from Yale, Washburn University, and MIT, and has received a Citation of Excellence from the National Science Foundation and a graduate fellowship from the Mellon Foundation in the Humanities. At the insistence of his editor, he now has an e-mail account at the local library but continues to minimize modern technology for himself and his family. Eric and Mary Brende have recently relocated to an old-town section in St. Louis, where Eric makes his living as a rickshaw driver and a soap maker.

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Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found the book very interesting, but I kept wondering why didn't the author talk about giving up his dependence on the news or newspapers. I would think that, too, would be very difficult. I also wish he would have given his wife's perspective as told from her to him. There were other issues I wish he had mentioned that he just didn't bring up, so I kindof felt like he really wasn't telling us the whole story. Still his message was clear and one I tend to agree with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book initially thinking it would be a book about people who lived 'off the grid'- in harmony with neighbors, but independent of them. Instead, I was disappointed to see how ill-prepared the Brendes were to live without the help of their neighbors- without whom they would have had a very difficult year. It seemed more like reading the 'Secrets of the Innerworkings of the Amish and How I Got Involved' rather than a 'How to Live Indisposably in an Disposable World'. Yes, it talks about what people need and don't need, but he still has a car, access to a phone...... I find that the Author tends to steer off course- it's like reading someone's very LONG Holiday letter- banged out in as short of time possible- rather than an essay of life. If this is what you are interested in reading, then this is the book for you.
KM2009 More than 1 year ago
This book was an interesting read on living off the grid. Earlier in the book, I was a bit frustrated with the the author's approach to living off the grid. The living situation was a rented house from the Amish, and the Amish seemed to take them under their wings, and so I felt it was the easy road for the author's experiment....I guess I was expecting it to be a bit more rustic and challenging. Although I can't say the approach was easy, I think it was definitely an easier route for the author to take. The title of the book gives the impression that we are better off without technology, although the author and his wife in the end make compromises and don't end living life off the grid. An interesting book, but a bit disappointing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It is written with humor and provides a glimpse into a life many of us will never experience. I was never looking for a 'how-to' manual on off-grid living, so I found this story delightful and personal. I thoroughly enjoyed Brende's insights and find them useful in my daily life as a city dweller.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book but, like other reviewers, something is missing. For the whole book, I couldn't figure out if Eric and his wife were living authentic Amish people or if there were all sorta Amish people. I would have liked to know more about their day-to-day life and a forcasted time table of events that they were expected to do regarding farming, etc.... I would have wanted to know more abo the values the community held regarding modern medicine and other things. This book definitely does give you some things to think about after you are done reading. How helpful/harmful is all the technology around us? What is the least amount of technology we can live with to still live comfortably but not compromise a sense of community or well-being?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very very very very very very very bad.
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