Technology Matters


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Applying the lessons of history to modern-day dilemmas, Nye defies much common wisdom about the power of technology in society. With irony and wit, he exhorts us not to succumb to defeatist notions of technological determinism but to take charge of our own human destinies. -- Arthur Molella, Director, Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Smithsonian Institution A deeply informed historian who writes with impressive clarity, David Nye persuades us in Technology Matters that we should ask the kind of life-shaping questions about technology that we customarily pose about politics and economics. He does not finally answer the timely questions that he explicates, but provokes us to search for our own answers. -- Thomas P. Hughes, author of Human-Built World: How to Think about Technology and Culture Technology Matters provides a scintillating and sweeping assessment of how technology and culture have shaped one another over time and how humanity's future will be shaped by the choices we make today. Nye's latest analysis of the reciprocal interplay of technology and culture extends his more academic work to a broader audience and does so in a clear and engaging manner. -- Jeffrey K. Stine, National Museum of American History

About the Author

David E. Nye is Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota and Professor Emeritus of American Studies at the University of Southern Denmark. His other books published by the MIT Press include American Technological Sublime and American Illuminations. He was awarded the Leonardo da Vinci Medal in 2005 and was knighted by the Queen of Denmark in 2013.


Provocative...Nye's mission in this anecdote-rich, briskly analytical, and indignation-arousing overview is to make us think more critically about the boons and banes of technology and make our views known.

-Donna Seaman

Nye's book addresses many of the issues and debates surrounding our highly textured technological society, and these are reflected in the questions he asks. Does technology control us? Does it lead to cultural uniformity or diversity? To sustainable abundance or to ecological crisis? To more security or escalating danger? The book is rich in examples, is easily readable and is short enough to be recommended for a day's read.


The incessant march of technology's evolution is the subject of David Nye's very readable book. It is written in the form of questions and expansive answers, with read like a primer (if not a discursive catechism) on what historians of technology have been thinking about over the half-century or so since their field was formalized. One of the striking effects of Nye's treatment is that it leads the reader to the incontrovertible conclusion that the answers to questions about technology evolve no less than technology itself. This is hardly surprising: thinking and writing about technology can be as creative a pursuit as inventing.

-New Scientist

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