Top positive review
Great book, good stories, a few missed opportunities.
23 August 2016
Kevin Kelly has form - he's been writing about digital technology and its likely impact for around 30 years, and he's often seen new things emerge long before anyone else.
"The inevitable" is set around 12 themes, and for each theme, Kelly writes about both the past and the present with lucidity, and then extrapolates to the future. He includes little pastiches of what life will be like in 20 years when a particular technology trend has progressed to be almost unrecognizable from today's perspective.
The book is clear, well-organized and an entertaining read. It rattles along at a decent pace, and the overall tone is positive.
I have some minor quibbles about the editing - there are a few more typos than I'd like.
I felt two things were missing, though.
Firstly, while digital advances have brought undoubted benefits, Kelly doesn't spend enough time on the challenges. Sure, being able to collect lots of information on ourselves, others and our environments is great - but this also creates privacy challenges, and creates new opportunities for those who would harm us. Kelly doesn't look at these aspects in any detail.
The other missed opportunity is that Kelly's outlook is very "middle-class American" - nearly all the anecdotes, pastiches and comparators are from the perspective of a relatively affluent, relatively comfortable person living in a stable, safe environment. Digital technology arguably will affect people in developing countries much more - and I didn't see much from Kelly on this.