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Wonderland

How Play Made the Modern World

3.84 based on 5 ratings & 0 reviews on Goodreads.com

Synopsis

'The book is a house of wonders' The New York Times

'Steven Johnson is the Darwin of technology' Walter Issacson, author of Steve Jobs

What connects Paleolithic bone flutes to the invention of computer software? Or the Murex sea snail to the death of the great American city? How does the bag of crisps you hold in your hand help tell the story of humanity itself?

In his brilliant new work on the history of innovation, international bestseller Steven Johnson argues that the pursuit of novelty and wonder has always been a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change. He finds that that throughout history, the cutting edge of innovation lies wherever people are working the hardest to keep themselves and others amused.

Johnson's storytelling is just as delightful as the inventions he describes, full of surprising stops along the journey from simple concepts to complex modern systems. He introduces us to the colourful innovators of leisure: the explorers, proprietors, showmen, and artists who changed the trajectory of history with their luxurious wares, exotic meals, taverns, gambling tables, and magic shows.

Johnson compellingly argues that observers of technological and social trends should be looking for clues in novel amusements. You'll find the future wherever people are having the most fun.

In the media

Johnson clearly delights in eccentric facts, and the book is fun to look at
Financial Times
Wonderland brims with these sorts of tidbits, memorable moments, and bits of information that light up the mind
The Boston Globe
The book is a house of wonders…the flutes made of bone, the zoos, the purple dye made from snails, the roulette, the automatons of digesting and defecating ducks, and Minecraft. These novelties, in turn, are connected backward in time often to ancient forces – and then forward to their cultural derivations, including synthesizers, computers and the internet.
The New York Times Book Review