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Shock Of The Old

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics

Shock Of The Old

Technology and Global History since 1900

David Edgerton

eBook (ePUB/MOBI)?
9781847650672 (26 May 2011)

About the book

Standard histories of technology give tired accounts of the usual inventions, inventors, and dates, framing technology as the inevitable march of progress. They split history into ages - electrification, motorisation, and computerisation - and rarely ask whether anyone bothered to use these inventions at the time. Shock of the Old is not one of those histories.
Instead of asking when a technology came to be, David Edgerton asks when the average person started using it. He reveals that decades- and centuries-old technologies are often critical parts of modern achievements, and that old technologies can remain dominant long after they were supposedly superseded. Letters exist alongside emails and outlasted telegrams; we still make physical books and magazines despite the rise of the Internet - a belated rise considering that the technologies that made it possible was invented in 1965.
Shock of the Old forces us to reassess the significance of old inventions such as corrugated iron and sewing machines and rethink the relative importance we place on the invention of something new, its application, and its widespread adoption. It challenges the idea that we live in an era of ever increasing change and, interweaving political, economic and cultural history, teaches us to think critically about technology.

About the author

Born in Montevideo in 1959, David Edgerton is one of Britain's leading historians, and has challenged conventional analyses of technology for 20 years. Currently the Hans Rausing Professor at Imperial College London, he writes for the broadsheet press and is a regular on television and radio. He lives in London.


So the new is old, and the old is new! Marvellous stuff, and absolutely spot-on.

- Simon Jenkins

he eviscerates our obsession with novelty...

- Hugh Pearman, The Sunday Times

newfangled things are sexy, but how significant are they?...Edgerton provides a corrective by emphasising some of the overlooked technologies that affect the lives of many.

- John Sparks, Newsweek

David Edgerton's The Shock of the Old is a book I can use. I can take it in two hands and bash it over the heads of every techno-nerd, computer geek and neophiliac futurologist I meet.

- Simon Jenkins, Guardian

...iconoclastic and thought-provoking book...he makes a strong case that accords with what Virgil identified around 25BC as a definitive human characteristic. Our lives consist of semper cedentia retro: always going forwards backwards.

- The Times

Additional Information

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics

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