Good books I read in May 2023.
What Technology Wants, by Kevin Kelly
This was a deep, inspiring book, one I feel I’ll need to read multiple times to fully appreciate.
Kelly looks at technological progress through various lenses and concludes that technology is an extension of our minds and, at the same time, an independent evolutionary process and that we are coevolving with it.
The extended costume of animals is the result of their genes. They inherit the basic blueprints of what they make. Humans don’t. The blueprints for our shells spring from our minds, which may spontaneously create something none of our ancestors ever made or even imagined. If technology is an extension of humans, it is not an extension of our genes but of our minds. Technology is therefore the extended body for ideas.
Beyond Kelly’s profound and detail chronicle of humanity’s relation with technology, what stood out to me was the humanist and optimistic (of the “problems are soluble” kind) message coming out of the book:
For most of history, the unique mix of talents, skills, insights, and experiences of each person had no outlet. If your dad was a baker, you were a baker. As technology expands the possibility of space, it expands the chance that someone can find an outlet for their personal traits. We thus have a moral obligation to increase the best of technology. When we enlarge the variety and reach of technology, we increase options not just for ourselves and not just for others living but for all those to come as the technium ratchets up complexity and beauty over generations.
I enjoyed Thrawn by Timothy Zahn, which I started reading to dive deeper into the character in preparation to Ashoka coming to Disney+ later this year.
It was refreshing to read about characters with an actual arc, limits, making decisions that have consequences, in a story that adds to the lore without trying to subvert it…
We read the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban edition illustrated by Jim Kay with our oldest. If you are parent and Harry Potter fan, investing in these big book is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the story with your children.
The books our youngest enjoyed the most have been the Usborne “Peep Inside” small books about space and bug homes. Lift-the-flap, look-inside books are always a winner with younger kids and a clever way to keep them engaged.
What books have you been reading?