I can't recall reading another book on technology that was as well-balanced as this is. For this reason alone, Why Things Bite Back is good reading.
But Tenner achieves much more than balance. He identifies useful categories, like revenge effects and reverse revenge effects. Within the former, Tenner identifies repeating effects (e.g., doing the same thing more often rather than gaining free time, as happened with time-saving devices like home clothes washers and dryers when we quit taking as many clothes to the laundry), recomplicating effects (e.g., being expected to remember more numbers as we go from rotary to push button telephone "dialing"), regenerating effects (e.g., Patriot missles breaking up Scuds into multiple, smaller projectiles), and recongesting effects (e.g., the transformation of apparently limitless electromagnetic bandwidth to congested, largely filled bandwidth).
Whew! When reading this, I wondered how Tenner would later use these categories, which he introduced at the beginning of the book. Well, he does return to them and, in doing so, seems to be taking a first pass at crafting a useful nomenclature.
My main problem with the book is that Tenner presses some of the arguments too hard, such as the perceived link between defeating TB and facilitating AIDS. I was disappointed to see this argument pop up again 260 pages after its first mention--this time in the book's conclusion.
Tenner concludes that we can best manage revenge effects by retreating from intensity through three means: diversification, dematerialization, and finesse. Tenner provides numerous examples of each strategy, such as fostering diversity in plant species, substituting brains for stuff, and allowing a fever to play its role in fighting infection.
Despite the presence of a few weak arguments, Why Things Bite Back is really remarkable and goes a long way toward preparing us to meet the challenge of continued, fast-paced technological progress.