Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Moths to the Flame: The Seductions of Computer Technology - by Gregory Rawlins


It’s been nearly 2 years since I completely read a whole book; life was so busy (or you call me lazy:) that I got a chance to pick a few books here-and-then, but never managed to finish one. To its credit, this book “Moths to the Flame” from Gregory Rawlins, published by MIT Press made me to hold it tight till I complete it.

Moths to the Flame is a perfect mixture of visualizing/learning through the futuristic computer technologies through a historical view.

As the author Gregory Rawlins, who is a professor of artificial intelligence engineering at Indiana University, himself says,
"For two decades now I've been awaiting a book explaining computers and their social consequences to literate readers without using any unnecessary jargon or pedantry—or math….....I particularly wanted a book that I could buy for my father, who's an accountant of the old school, to explain something of the mysterious world I live in.”
He sets the goal for this book very clear that It’s not for computer geeks -for whom this book may look like a Montessori scribble; rather it is for the old school of people who has no/less knowledge about modern computers– it’s a kind of “computer technologies for dummies” book :)

In this book, the author takes us on a historical tour of the world surrounded with modern technologies, with a lot of humor, yet in a thought-provoking script. The technology area he introduces, are not limited only to hi-tech industry, instead he explains technology from events applied to everyday life, video games, movie animations to space engineering and deep root military innovations.

The book's first four chapters explore the worlds of privacy, virtual reality, publishing and computer networks, while the last four focus on social issues such as warfare, jobs, computer catastrophes, and the future itself. Throughout unusual analogies and historical comparisons - from Egyptian pictograms to the codebreakers of World War II - gives us a context for the computer age, showing how new technologies have always bred intertwined hope and resistance.

I enjoyed this book, at least it taught me the skill of explaining some hi-tech stuff in simple words. But, for some reason the book was not a big hit in the market though, people complaining as the author did not explain the technologies not as deep as the famous technology writers Neil Postman or Roszak; but if you want just a simple book about modern technologies, and would like to buzz through in a couple of days, go get it – you’ll not be disappointed.   #mit #mothstotheflames  #computer #technology #gregoryrawlins

Saturday, September 17, 2016

In the train..

The trains here, have silent coaches #Stiltecoupe with the “Stilte/Silence” logos. In these coaches everyone is supposed to be silent. No phone calls, no chats inside these coaches!

Silence.. Pin drop silence inside !!!!. It’s a rule that is taken seriously, and there’s always someone in these coaches who will play policeman if you do chat for sure :)

I was on such a stiltecoupe last evening, reading a book and enjoying a quiet travel – till that cute little girl and her father got-in. They seem to be Britons, touring Holland; the girl was full of energy and excitement, she got into the coach skipping and screaming (same as my daughter; P), and they both took a seat adjacent to me.

Little Girl: Pappa, Pappa … Papppaaaa….

Father: what?
(As usual, an old lady warned them “IT IS A SILENT COACH !!!!”)

Father: sshhh… we’re in a silent coach baby, we need to speak with inner voice, you can’t speak louder!
(The girl was silent for a moment, and then started...)

Little Girl:(in a loud voice) Pappa.. Pappa…it’s important…
I just forgot how to speak with my inner voice :) .. What should I do now !!!

Not just her father, I also started laughing out loud!! Of course, many others looked us like crazy morans ; but who cares ?, I still enjoy the moment!   #ns.nl #amsterdam