Technobiophilia brings together many disciplines to explore the convergence of exposure to nature and technological use in our modern world. Whilst the term technobiophilia is, as Thomas admits herself, rather clumsy, and ill-defined, it opens the much needed discussion, and in particular raise awareness to the innate affiliation we have to nature, which needs nurturing.
The book brings together many examples, anecdotes and case studies which is interesting and accessible, though is not the first on these topics. Peter Kahn has done extensive research on the effects of technological nature and health in his book of the same name. What Thomas does successfully here is synthesise many areas of interest through years of research and present them coherently.
For my Masters project in Computer Science, I decided to go a little renegade and create a topic that seemed a little out there. I was determined to examine the use of Biophilia and see if it could influence GUI design fusing the natural with man-made design. (If you're not sure what Biophilia is, here's a crude breakdown: Man has an evolutionary advantage by looking after the environment and has an innate connection with nature.) However, there was next to nothing when going to google scholar regarding the mention of the Biophilia Hypothesis. More or less two weeks from hand-in date this book popped into the results which was lucky and extremely useful in backing up some claims I had regarding the calming influences of nature. The author was incredibly helpful in pointing out several references that were relevant to my project.
It is the first book that I have really seen that uses the Biophilia Hypothesis as a starting point to thoroughly examine nature's influence on technological design. If you are a UX designer, this may be a point of interest and potentially full of new ideas to take onboard.
This book provides a fascinating and wide-ranging overview of a topic that many will have been aware of, but never properly thought about - the fact that so much of our use of modern IT relies on metaphors related to nature. For example, the terms such as web, spider, crawl, mouse, safari, bug, cloud, and the concept of cyberspace as a place you can explore and interact with. The author has created a fascinating and very personal account of these phenomena and her interpretation of why we tend to use such metaphors, drawing from an incredibly wide range of sources together with her interpretation of her interviews with some of the key players. The result is an intelligent, challenging, very personal and thought-provoking book.
I would have liked to have learned if anyone had studied the use of nature-based images on screen savers; the author says there has been nothing written on the subject, but I find that hard to believe. Recommended for anyone interested in exploring the concept of the reliance of IT on metaphors based on nature. This book claims there is something fundamental in our psyche which makes this so. Read it, and see if you agree.