Read Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything by James Gleick Online


From the bestselling, National Book Award-nominated author of Genius and Chaos, a bracing new work about the accelerating pace of change in today's world.Most of us suffer some degree of "hurry sickness," a malady that has launched us into the "epoch of the nanosecond," a need-everything-yesterday sphere dominated by cell phones, computers, faxes, and remote controls. YetFrom the bestselling, National Book Award-nominated author of Genius and Chaos, a bracing new work about the accelerating pace of change in today's world.Most of us suffer some degree of "hurry sickness," a malady that has launched us into the "epoch of the nanosecond," a need-everything-yesterday sphere dominated by cell phones, computers, faxes, and remote controls. Yet for all the hours, minutes, and even seconds being saved, we're still filling our days to the point that we have no time for such basic human activities as eating, sex, and relating to our families. Written with fresh insight and thorough research, Faster is a wise and witty look at a harried world not likely to slow down anytime soon....

Title : Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything
Author :
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ISBN : 9780679775485
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 330 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything Reviews

  • Paul
    2019-03-11 12:22

    This book is great. The acceleration of society/culture by way of technology is a subject that interests me greatly, maybe more than any other, so this book was right up my alley. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Faster is, despite its being almost a decade old, it's still entirely relevant. Aside from the lack of talk about iPods an iPhones, it doesn't seem dated at all. This is especially noteworthy considering the book's premise, which claims that a decade, these days, is an eternity.If the book has one flaw, it's indicated by its subtitle. In only 280 pages, Gleick indeed covers just about everything that is currently being accelerated, so it almost reads like a collection of short essays. Which, ironically, is perfect for the society he claims we've all become, i.e. voracious consumers of small, easily-digestible bits of information who rarely pause to consider or process the information. Yes, the book is a rather easy read, and I would have preferred if he'd gone into some more detail, either technical or historical, or whatever, about certain topics, as someone like Paul Virilio does.Still, the book is an excellent survey of time, speed, technology, and culture acceleration. It's well-written, well-reasoned, and, I thought, entertaining (i.e. never dry). Some of my favorite topics covered were the airline industry and how it has come to manage its myriad flights, telephone operators, the wearing of wristwatches, and the concept of efficiency. It's rarely gloomy or preachy, which is rare, I've found, in cultural studies. Gleick even provides a super comprehensive bibliography (it takes up like 25 pages), so anyone who wants more detail will know where to look. Recommended.

  • David Cerruti
    2019-03-01 06:17

    After reading Gleick’s Chaos in 1989 and The Information this year, I was anticipating Faster. What a letdown. Chaos and The Information rocked. Faster just plodded along. In his profile, David Giltinan cites 10 common sources of disappointment in a book. The first is “Failed to match brilliance of author's previous work.” That was certainly the case here. Another distraction is this edition is an audio book, read by Gleick. His reading wasn’t engaging. The other GR reviews cover the content, how everything is speeding up. That seems like old news. One item of interest is how digital answering machines compress the message without raising the pitch. This technology also saves time for phone operators. Now that is a useful idea. I happened to be listening to Faster on an iPhone, which has a 2X speed button. In practice, it’s closer to 1 ½ X speed. With Gleick’s reading faster was better. I expect to thoroughly enjoy Gleick’s books on Feynman and Newton.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-08 10:25

    Ironically, by the time I read this book it was quite dated and I skimmed save time.

  • JefferyG
    2019-02-23 05:25

    (Author’s note: This article appeared in the December 1999 issue of Cutter IT Journal.) Those who could learn the most from James Gleick’s Faster: The Acceleration of Just about Everything are those least likely to learn anything from it, let alone read it. It is unfortunate that Faster is a book which can be read, well—quickly. It brings to mind Francis Bacon’s observation that there are three kinds of books. In the first category are those ephemeral books which need only to be tasted, then there are more significant tomes which should be swallowed, and the third, more rarefied category of books which should be chewed and thoroughly digested. Faster belongs to the third category, but the paradox is that the digestion of a book--reflecting on and analyzing its ideas--requires unhurried time.Gleick is the author of Chaos: Making A New Science, and Genius, a biography of Nobel-Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman. Both books were nominated for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. With Faster, however, Gleick explores not so much the scientific, but the historical, sociological, and philosophical implications of our invention of, and obsession with, time and the perceived lack of it. Often wildly funny, Faster invokes cultural and scientific references ranging from Beavis and Butthead, Marcel Duchamp, Einstein, and inevitably, the Internet. Writing about, or even describing Gleick’s new book leads one into the irresistible urge to use staccato, hyphenated, hyperactive phrases. He explores the birth, growth, use and misuse of phrases like "multi-tasking," and "real-time," phrases which many IT professionals routinely employ as a form of verbal shorthand."Pacemaker," the first chapter, begins, "You are in the Directorate of Time. Naturally you are running late." Indeed, every chapter leaves us with the nagging sense that we’re behind, we’re late. The Directorate of Time, Gleick explains, is where time is carefully monitored in the vibration of the subatomic particles of cesium atoms. Time is no longer referenced by celestial bodies; we have reinvented it as a self-referenced manifestation, and in turn, have made it our obsession.After this introduction, Gleick observes that "Our culture has been transformed from one with time to fill and time to spare to one that views time as a thing to guard, hoard and protect." Where we once sought to kill time, today we are reluctant to even wound it. Witness our ubiquitous time-savers: cell phones, email, Day-Timers, Palm Pilots, One Minute Manager guides and, reserved for that special, precious quality time when we tuck our children into bed, we now have One-Minute Bedtime Stories. This obsession with time and the lack of it seems to be self-perpetuating. Where once we never envisioned such inventions as automatic teller machines, photocopiers, cellular telephones, pagers, remote controls, or microwave ovens, we now regard them as essential. They create their own demand and fill our already overfilled schedules, as we compulsively check items off our ever-growing to-do lists.The tone of Faster invokes the title of one of Gleick’s earlier books: Chaos. Certainly, a disturbing majority of software development organizations have been described using these two succinct syllables, and Faster embodies the very notion of chaos, in lives personal and professional, as well as in culture, both social and corporate. But let’s face it: chaos is sometimes exciting. It may not be very efficient, but it can undoubtedly be exciting. This excitement, however, may well mask the root cause of our perpetual "lateness." One wonders if this pace is more fashionable than substantive. Many corporate cultures today emphasize the need for speed, as if haste, speed, and merely being busy were desirable goals in themselves. Being so busy one does not have enough time is often a status symbol. And if you do have enough time, your status is immediately lowered, of course, for if you have too much time on your hands, you couldn’t possibly be very important, anyway.IT professionals are arguably largely responsible for the time crunch, and, after all, it is we who have created the technology that is in a large measure responsible for the increasing flow of information that requires our increasing attention in our decreasingly available time. And IT professionals are some of the greatest victims of the time crunch: as market pressures build, we are forced to create products in increasingly shorter time frames. And even when we’re not quite sure what were supposed to be doing or how we’re supposed to do it, one imperative is clear: that we’d better do it faster.The "Lost In Time" chapter begins with an introduction of Moore’s Law, the now-familiar postulate that computing power doubles every 18 months. Gleick takes a longer view, moving back in time and extrapolating this exponential increase to the pace of increasing technology from Gutenburg’s printing press to the spread of telephones and space travel, with a humorous flashback to the television premiere of Lost In Space, in which the action takes place in the far, far away galaxy of 1997."On Internet Time" portrays the manic emphasis of "faster" in the business world. We demand expedited orders for just in time delivery for our cost-effective just in time inventory, all this to support our just in time manufacturing, which presumably spawns still more expedited orders. How did this come about? "Federal Express," Gleick notes, "sold its services for ‘when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.’ In the world before FedEx, when ‘it’ could not absolutely, positively be there overnight, it rarely had to. Now that it can, it must. Overnight mail, like so many of the hastening technologies, gave its first business customers a competitive edge. When everyone adopted overnight mail, equality was restored, and only the universally faster pace remained."Gleick continues this theme by illustrating the growing usage of fax transmissions in the 80’s and the glut of email today. Everyone, it seems, complains about getting too much email, whether they receive a dozen or several hundred per day. (Curiously, I have heard software developers boast about how much email arrives in their already bursting email folders each day, as if being overwhelmed were a mark of pride.) The chapter concludes with what has to be the funniest section of the book: a review of the books, courses, organizers and tapes offered by the simplification gurus who are "…giving birth to an unmistakable Simplify You Life information glut."Faster is organized into 37 short, punchy chapters. Not counting the index, which is parenthetically, superfluous, the book weighs in at 305 pages, of these, 23 pages are acknowledgements and notes. For those who don’t have time to read the remaining 281 pages of rapid-fire text, the publisher has thoughtfully condensed it into an abridged audio cassette edition, easily skimmed while fielding telephone calls amid rush hour traffic. For those with really short attention spans, the book’s Web site ( has snippets culled from each chapter.Reading the book gives one the impression of watching a philosophical discourse on modern life as produced by MTV. This is unfortunate, because Faster is not, as noted earlier, a book to be skimmed in haste and summarily checked off one’s to-do list. Its implications are greater than its apparent content. The unspoken theme of Faster is that in our haste to go faster and faster, we have lost or forgotten the need to reflect, to analyze, or even to plan just where we are going so quickly. Is time, as Ovid noted in Metamorphoses, truly the devourer of all things ("Tempus edax rerum.")? Some things simply can’t be hurried, Gleick reminds us, for example, love, compost, or a soufflé, a memorable juxtaposition of metaphors if ever there were one.I had been reading and re-reading sections of Faster, and so while returning from recent business trip, I took special notice of my fellow business travelers and what they did to occupy their waiting and traveling time. On a Friday evening in the airport in New York, I read a newspaper while the people surrounding me dialed their cellular telephones, and with a universal sense of urgency, all explained that they were in the airport in New York and would arrive at their destinations at _____ p.m., local time. While on board the aircraft before takeoff, the man sitting behind me dialed his cell phone, explained that he was on the plane at the gate in New York, and would arrive at his destination at ______ p.m., local time. As they aircraft pulled away from the gate, he concluded his call, but as soon as we were airborne, he began busily dialing again, presumably notifying everyone he could think of that he would indeed, arrive at his destination at _______ p.m., local time.I had a brief layover in Salt Lake City, so I went to the airline lounge to check in for my connecting flight to Colorado. While there, I went to the men’s room, where I heard an unmistakable beeping, followed by a voice echoing from a stall, "I’m in Salt Lake City now—"I left, not really wanting to overhead the rest of the conversation, and besides, I didn’t want to be late.

  • Thomson Kneeland
    2019-03-16 09:18

    This was a great, quick read, and though written in 1999, the ideas and issues presented are as pertinent as ever. An easy essay read on various facets of how technology is shaping society with mutitasking, emails, information overload and a sheer feeling of lack of time as our everyday pace quickens. Ten years later, the world has accelerated far more than even this book portends with flash trading, texting, twitter, digital downloads, and the enormous capacity of the web. But in essence, it is an examination of our sense of time and how technology shapes our vision of it and our feeling of productivity. It certainly was inspiring to read and make my own goals of taking myself out of that heightened acceleration as much as possible. The writing was a bit kitschy, with its emphasis on television, cable and more, but that's the world we live in (and a world I forego in terms of immersing myself in such media) and the actual writing itself could have been more in depth, it essentially read like a giant magazine article for the New Yorker or something. Definitely a "pop" book vs science. Worth a read regardless, as it doesnt take long to get through.

  • Cara
    2019-03-18 04:15

    I started out not quite impressed with this book. It looked like it was going to be vacant navel-gazing - reminiscing about a time in the past when things were "slower" and therefore better. But I'm glad I stuck with it, because it turned into a very thought-provoking story of what time means to us now. Lots has been written on the increasing speed of technological innovation and how this changes society, but much less has been written about what the effect is of moving fast. The author doesn't quite argue that we need to go slower, and he's not a luddite arguing we get rid of modern technology. All the same, a lot of topics worth thinking about are brought up. Though this was published 13 years ago, it has only become more relevant with time.

  • ActionScientist
    2019-03-08 07:23

    I read this book during a week holiday in the Okavango Swamps (Botswana) at the turn of the Millennium ... after a decade of burning the candle at both ends and living Internet years. Gleick is one of the small handful of popular science writers able to spin a delightful series of yarns to make his point. His final big bit of advice: our species needs to learn how to squander copious amounts of time, again. A profound bit of advice, if one can find the time to think about it, let alone implement it.

  • Tessa
    2019-02-28 05:34

    An OK book. It's written for a somewhat pop audience and contains few revelations. However there is an interesting section towards the end where he discusses the limits of speed and uses the example of the disabled "close door" buttons on newer skyscraper elevators which exist only so that people can press them and believe that they are causing the doors to close faster when they stay open for the same time regardless.

  • Knibbs
    2019-03-14 06:07

    At the end I'm not really sure that it said much... But it was a reasonably interesting and engaging read. Inevitable dated parts. Could really have just stuck to the Brainpickings summary but it was a pleasant enough read.

  • Jeroen
    2019-03-13 12:36

    There is a certain irony to the short chapters sporting catchy headings in FSTR – as the book cover popularly (or smugly?) has the title. “Prest-o! change-o!” and “On Your Mark, Get Set, Think” are as punny as they come; I'd almost argue they are Buzzfeed titles avant la lettre. In the afterword Gleick assures us that this is a book and, as such, a “slow device”, but you can't help but feel that he has been influenced in its design and structure by the subject matter. I guess there's no helping that when you immerse yourself in statistics about how every second counts. Make your chapters two pages longer and people will not be able to finish them on their daily commute! (or some such thought?) I read a rather depressing (and annoyingly written, to boot) article recently counting down how many visitors would still be reading after each paragraph. That is the sort of preoccupation that must be behind this one.Since we're on that subject: one of Faster's chapters is called “Jog More, Read Less,” and points out that we only spent sixteen minutes a day reading a book, on average (but almost thrice as much reading newspapers and magazines, and probably much more reading short messages online). The Jog More part of that title is elaborated on more broadly. To summarize: we spent a lot of time exercising, but how much of that time is actually spent exercising our muscles instead of just flexing them is not entirely clear. I smuggled in the culprit word there: “exercise.” While Gleick generally limits his disapproval of all the little facets of life in which we have sped up, it's not hard to guess what he really thinks, and sometimes he can't help himself. On the subject of treadmills: “as you head off for the eternal horizon on your treadmill, you must be aware that this march is almost by definition a waste of time”. Indeed. Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, writing on the history of walking, pointed out the irony that we have first created machines to lighten our work load, and then created machines to even out the lightening of our work load. She quotes an Eduardo Galeano essay in which he engages Dominican fishermen to talk about a rowing machine. Needless to say, they are perplexed, and conclude that the “rowing is the only thing we don't like” about rowing. They like all the things that the modern gym doesn't allow: the sun beating on their bodies and the cool splashes of water.It doesn't necessarily help the book that Gleick starts with his strongest example, either. Point in case: the door close button. He borrowed it from Douglas Coupland, but he gets it right. “Anger at elevators rises within seconds, experience shows.” Although elevators are usually programmed to take only two to four seconds to close of their own, “the door close button in elevators is usually the one with the paint worn off”. I enjoyed the little factoid that most door close buttons are deactivated when the elevator is installed, and the buttons work only to relieve psychological stress. Since the doors close quickly anyway, no harm is done and no harm is even noticed.After the doors close, I felt – again, quite ironically – a little too much come at me, too quickly, in this book. Yes, Gleick seems to press the door close button too soon upon virtually every subject, whereas I sometimes prefered to dwell longer. Nevertheless, somewhere in the midle of the book, through an endless barrage of examples, Gleick hits upon a more overarching core. Or perhaps I do, perhaps I finally get what he's trying to say around the time the author hits “Internet time,” a subject I've been involving myself with for my thesis. “The Web and TV complement each other perfectly,” Gleick has some nobody from California say. “TV doesn't require much attention from the viewer. It fits perfectly into the spaces created by downloading Web pages.” This one's insightful because it's not true anymore for most people. The internet does not take time anymore downloading web pages. Even hi-res movies can be streamed without delay. If you take the time out of everything – if you make TV and newspapers and books into bite-size chunks – it makes sense that it will be impossible to concentrate on anything, since nothing continues to happen. Moreover, in the meantime, there are a myriad of other things that can start happening. In the past, we sometimes simply had to wait. “We humans used to feel like laggards, with nature marching briskly onward.” We had to adapt to the world, and this of course has been the fight technology has been fighting. “In our day of electric wires,” Mark Twain writes, as quoted by Gleick, “we turn it around. Man waits not for time nor tide.”This brings Gleick to his second-best example: the fermata. This is a notational sign in music used to prolong a note or rest indefinitely. Gleick points out that there are musicians around who can play any piece of music brilliantly, but choke on this sign. They just get uncomfortable with the silence, let alone the “indefinite” length of it.The last paragraph, appropriately called “The End,” is rather wonderful. It can be read independently of what came before, and would make for an excellent separate essay. Here, Gleick finally draws some conclusions himself, most importantly of which is the following realisation: “whenever we speed up the present, as a curious side effect we slow down the past. […] Peering back through history we see scenes in a kind of slow motion that did not exist then. We have invented it.” This is what it boils down to. There is another, comparable remark to make here, which Gleick omits. Whenever we think of the future, it doesn't slow down the present. Just because we fantasise about traveling at the speed of light, we do not suddenly get flustered about flying at the speed of sound. It is only when we experience the acceleration first-hand that we get restless with all that came before.

  • Cara W
    2019-03-06 04:31

    An interesting treatise on time, from how societies starting using time, telling time - then how time became standardized.Then how societies worked and how everyone is TOO busy - that time is precious and no one gets more of it. How time "saving" and management really came about in 1980's as an overall societal self help phenomena. All trends still consistent - research mid to late 1990's, published in 1999 - seems a little dated compared to how much "worse" it is with all the digital and electronics.Seemed a bit disjointed on occasion - not sure if my lack of concentration or the writing.

  • Sam
    2019-03-16 12:11

    Pseudointellectual trash. Gleick can and has written much better. Huge disappointment, ranges from preachy to just plain factually wrong at a few points (even after considering the technological developments since it was first published). Would have expected much better from the author of Chaos.

  • Anita
    2019-03-15 08:13

    Even though it was written before smartphones, tablets, facebook, twitter, snapchat and netflix, it is still a very actual description of how we all have gotten so busy. How everything is being time-economized.

  • Anne-Marie
    2019-03-10 06:19

    Science writing at its finest. This book explains our perception of time, and the ways in which time - or at least our perception of it - has accelerated in the modern age. By the end of the book I was consciously trying to slow things down in my day: simply eat a meal without simultaneously reading or looking at my phone, sit there and do nothing but listen to music, knit quietly, even (gasp!) do nothing for a little bit. It really does make you feel more grounded. Whipping out your phone when you're "bored" does not relieve stress, it just contributes to information overload. The day feels slowed down and unhurried when you use these "in-between" times to just reflect and, yes, do nothing.I'm struggling to say something cool and original about it, but I think the book speaks for itself. :) Read it!These are some quotes I liked, which may not make sense out of context."No one actually knew whether a trotting horse lifted all four hooves from the ground at any point in its stride." - 57"But people don't really see motion that way, in blurs or strobe repetitions. Or they didn't, before photography. These paintings and photographs captured a hastening of perception.""Humanity may turn out to be a species, when digesting information, that chews its cud." - 71"Reading on-line becomes another form of channel-flipping." - 72"...the rate of change will be so high that for humans to be qualified in a single discipline - defining what they are and what they do throughout their life - will be as outdated as quill and parchment." - 81"Much of the human experience (knowledge, disease) spreads by proximity, and for any one person the number of elbows in proximity has exploded. In past times, even in the most crowded city, we lived close enough to only a few people to, say, read their journals or track the temperature of their hot tubs. Now, in hordes, they put that information on-line. The multiplication of information pathways leads to positive feedback effects in the nature of frenzies." - 86"The American company that promoted the Internet hardest in its early days, Sun Microsystems, conducted research in 1997 into how people read on the Web and concluded simply, 'They don't.' They scan, sampling words and phrases. Why? In part because any one page, on which the fluttering user happens to have lighted momentarily, competes for attention with millions more." - 87"... the unavoidable delays in volleys of business communication before fax, before FedEx, and before E-mail, served as pauses for thought." - 89"It is the way of keeping contact with someone, anyone, who will reassure you that you are not alone. You may think you are checking on your portfolio, but deep down you are checking on your existence." - 92"A rest with a fermata is the moral opposite of the fast-food restaurant with express lane." - p. 105"Charles Darwin considered himself too slow-witted to engage in argument." - 109"The first psyshometricians, eager as they were to find some real, innate, general quality of mental ability that they could measure with tests, rarely paid attention to speed of thought." - 112"To save time, you must invest time." - 130"Music is the art form most clearly about time." - 193"The paradox of efficiency means that as the web tightens it grows more vulnerable to small disturbances - disruptions and delays that can cascade through the system for days." - 223"'To be born in ignorance with a capacity of knowledge,' he wrote, 'and to be placed in the midst of a world filled with variety, perpetually pressing upon the senses and irritating curiosity, is surely a sufficient security against' - here no simple word came to his mind - 'the languishment of inattention.'" - 270

  • Cynthia K
    2019-03-13 10:19

    I had finished one audio book but was still waiting for another that I had placed on hold. I spotted this at my local library and thought I could use it as part of the 2017 Read Harder Challenge. It met the requirements for task #13 - Read a nonfiction book about technology.The chapter on the history of watches was quite interesting. Of course, as Gleick moved toward the then-current descriptions of watches circa 1999, I was amused that he accurately predicted the future of timepieces, speculating on the existence of something such as the Apple Watch.I hit a snag, though, when one of the discs ended up being damaged. Apparently, I had borrowed the only audio copy of the book in the entire library network. I decided to borrow a hardback version instead.For whatever reason, the book lost its charm. Maybe I needed John McDonough to read it to me in order to get past how dated the book seemed. When Gleick cited Windows 99 as cutting edge, I was done. I realize that the acceleration of life that Gleick documents and laments has only gotten worse as technology has improved. The issues he raised then are still relevant now. I just have too many other books on my TBR list to spend more time on his insights. Does that qualify as ironic?

  • Jay
    2019-03-18 09:21

    I read this book while eating various meals, while sitting in the car waiting for a school bus to arrive, while brushing my teeth (even while flossing), while also being a spectator at various events, and to fill in many many different odd moments that came along (for I am never without a book). I layered the reading of this book with many different experiences, making more of my minutes and seconds since I can't erase any more of my free time... there just isn't any left. While reading this book, I finished about 23 other books, and I read at least part of many more. I would have listened to this book while driving, too, if I had been able to find the audiobook version.This book discusses many different ways people pay attention to their movements to vaporize any wasted motion. I mean, a person that cooks things in the microwave for 2:22 instead of 2:30?! Come on! Don't they realize that the"start" button is part of the sequence and drawing a line toward the "start" button makes better use of your motion. Key in 1:59 instead of 2:00 is a better savings than pressing the same key multiple times is.Okay, I'm guilty of paying attention to every inefficiency, but as both an engineer and a fencer, I find these things being important to my work and my play. How could this way of thinking not pour over into the rest of my life?It does seem strange sometimes that my most introspective moments these days are when I am both running and listening to music. These are the moments with the least external stimulation in the life I currently live. I used to think between lying down and falling asleep at night, but for the past ten years, that time is pretty close to 20 seconds. Not much thinking time.The main things I took from this book: (1) everyone is getting better at razing off little bits of inefficiency so I am not alone, (2) the gain of that is more ephemeral than I sometimes believe, (3) my wide-view perspective of efficiency, which includes the time-cost of learning to use a potentially time-saving device, is a better way to think, and (4) time that is "saved" is still used in some way because you can't pour it into a bottle. The book didn't teach me, as much as shed some light on the dark places of time that I haven't had time to think about.

  • Emily
    2019-02-27 09:16

    When I made my piece about the Heart, I read a lot of books about it and enjoyed little bits of all of them. Then, I read one that summed it all up and seemed to get at exactly many of the things I wanted to explore. (Louisa Young's Book of the Heart, just in case you're curious) Faster is THAT book but for Time. In pretty much every chapter I found myself thinking, "Yes! That's - yes! I hadn't thought of things quite like that. Damn!" All this time I was thinking I wanted to make a piece about Time, and now I'm wondering if it's really SPEED I want to explore. Gleick's thesis is that everything in our lives is accelerating, that the hallmark of modern life is its speed. That this complicates things is evidenced in one of my favorite chapters "365 Ways to Save Time" wherein he analyzes a book by that name and points out all the contradictory messages we get about saving time. Tip 209: Delegate 99% of your calls to your secretary. Tip 66: Take every phone call yourself and have your secretary interrupt you for the next call to save time answering messages. I love how Gleick pulls apart all these contradictions and points at the many ways these attempts to save time make us nuts. He points out the dangers of speed - such as "real time" opinion polls and sped up music. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be reading this again. Funny, I had to read this book very slowly in order to digest all it has to offer. I think I'll read it slowly again soon.

  • Chelsea
    2019-03-24 11:19

    I just finished reading Faster: The Acceleration of Just AboutEverything by James Gleick. (Ironically enough, not a quick read.) The basic thesis of the book is that our modern culture is obsessed with the notion of speed and the acceleration of everyday actions is a driving force in our technological and even political developments. Each chapter takes an aspect, object or idea and examines its development in context. Elevators, watches, cars, commercials, almost everything is touched on. He discusses our perception of passing time, what we do with our time, the development of a concept of time and the concept of "free" time, and what "time" really means. While exploring these things, he refrains from judgment on their development, offering only examples on which you can base your own decisions.While he has a sort of rambling, conversation style, his voice is much clearer and stronger than that of Stoll. He speaks with concise and clear language and adequately supports his descriptions. Though containing anecdotes and small diversions, they are clearly linked to the topic at hand.In summary, I found this to be a great read (and a great buy at $5 off the bargain rack.) It really opens your eyes to the little speed and time-related idiosyncrasies of everyday life and interactions. It's short and compartmentalized chapters lend themselves to good bed-time reading.

  • David Everling
    2019-03-19 08:24

    On time, our experience and measure of it, and particularly our accelerating life perspective, propelled by equally exponential technological advance. Written in 1999, the book loses little strength of argument since the reader can easily mentally update the most recent exemplar technologies and statistics (e.g. # of websites on topic x). Indeed, the intervening decade actually bolsters Gleick's point on progress, as the trends described herein have proven relatively robust and astute, becoming ever more popularly discussed by contemporary journalists.The book is befittingly brief, written much like one of James Gleick's long editorials in The New Yorker or NYT. Having a strong interest in the general topic of this book I worried initially that the material would be outdated or too superficial, but I was pleased to find myself thoroughly engaged throughout. I particularly enjoyed Gleick's insightful history of the measurement of time. This review refers to the audiobook version read by the author, who probably could have used a glass of water at certain points during recording, but in general reads his own work with good pacing and emphasis.

  • Chris Overstreet
    2019-03-14 09:27

    Starts off very interesting, but then sort of drags and gets a bit repetitive (began with a 5 star rating; then fell to a 3 due to my waning interest; hence 4 stars). It did make me stop and think about time, though. Like, really philosophically think about it. How do I (or we as society) allocate it? How does our culture view time compared to others around the world? Is leisure time a passive or active thing? Should we really brag about working long hours?The main take-away I took from the author was that, paradoxically, modern Westerners are obsessed with saving time (jamming the elevator close button, eating breakfast bars on the go, always multi-tasking), while at the same time obsessed with working and always being productive (working overtime, not taking vacations). We should stop and reflect on how we spend our time to make sure we are spending it the way we want. If we just go through the motions of daily life, without contemplating how we're spending each moment, we'll realize in old age we've lived a life wasted. And of course then it's too late.

  • Joe
    2019-02-21 06:15

    I was tricked! I thought this was a book about physics (with the alluring word "acceleration" in the title), but it turned out to be more social and behavioral science than anything else. I still really enjoyed it though, as James Gleick once again proved his versatility as a writer. All the little nuances, the winks and nods to the quirkiest of human predilections and paranoias, were what made this book such a joy to read. And that seems to be Gleick's style, which works in any genre.My inner journalist salivated throughout the book whenever he interviewed someone so ostensibly boring but obviously incredibly interesting as the keeper of time at the atomic clock in Greenwich, England. The dude doesn't wear a watch. That's awesome. So, physics or not, this is a great read loaded with brilliant quotes and depressing poetics. And irrespective of the apparent pointlessness of human existence in a grander scheme of universal mortality, the book is surprisingly uplifting. Read it.

  • Summer
    2019-03-02 04:28

    Although some sections of the book were dated to the point of irrelevance, the majority of the book was thought-provoking and still applicable. There is even an author's note at the end stating that a book about our ever increasing dependence on technology and increasing the speed of our lives became outdated in the months between the time it was written and the time it was published. Still, I found the ideas the author discussed- about our culture's need for speed and how it has spawned our collective impatience and inattention- pertinent even ten years after the book was re-released. There are plenty of books and magazine articles available telling us that our lives are fast-paced and offering solutions to the stated fact. This book was not a New Age list of how to slow your life down or 10 ways to savor the moment, but an examination of how we got to where we are, the depth of our speed addiction, and how in some ways we can not escape the pace that has been set. James Gleick isn't telling you what to do, he just hopes you'll think about the issue.

  • Liz
    2019-03-21 04:22

    Despite this book showing its age in a manner I did not strictly anticipate (though obviously should have), I really enjoyed Gleick's examination of the role of time in our lives. And, I admit, there was something strangely fun about imagining the world before the turn of the millenium and 9/11 and the rebirth of Apple and the smartphone get the idea. It made extrapolating his points all the more exciting, because you could see how his thoughts relate to the future as it is now.Also, Gleick is an exceptional writer and has the sort of style often reserved for novelist. I enjoyed reading him and the way he framed his information through encounters,In the end, though I enjoyed the obsoleteness, the book did suffer for being 13 years out of date--my fault, not its--but it's still a provocative read about the role of time in our lives.

  • Theron
    2019-03-13 08:12

    Gleick catalogs numerous ways in which western culture is driven by go, go, Go! Some meme are quite funny, and insightful. Others, upon self reflection, are sad. "So what," you might say after reading this book, just as I did. His conclusion, maybe lacking but I took away a few things. Every generation sees the symptoms of mania (rapid speech, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, hypersexuality, euphoria, impulsiveness, grandiosity, and increased interest in goal-directed activities) in themselves and the next generation. Living faster has not lived up to promise (more leisure time, whatever that means) but that's okay because we're about "our work". Time (as we track it, tick-tock) is a creation of man that can be traded, sold, stolen, purchased, etc. in the same way as other goods or services.

  • Jeff Gabriel
    2019-02-26 04:31

    Still interesting if a little dated. An afterword in the book indicates that the book was dated before it hit shelves, so putting another 15 years on it doesn't help. In any event if you can skip references the wonders of blazing fast 500Kb internet and heavy increase in the use of fax machines and newsgroups - then there is something here for you. I enjoyed the philosophical discussion over the increase of information in our society and how that leads to an increase in a sense of time compression in our lives. Good stuff here to ponder, but ultimately this is the least of Gleick's books. If you haven't read "The Information" yet, go get that one. Both of them borrow ideas from GEB, so maybe even start there.

  • Dave Gaston
    2019-02-21 06:07

    I loved it. A straight forward, brief and insightful history of time. A refreshing view — to look at a measure that man invented and then obsessed upon. Prior to this read, it was too easy to think of time as a thing of nature. Gleick’s topic, is really his canvas. On it, he paints the history of progress aided by man’s inventions. For example, time from town to town was never in sync down to the minute until railroad schedules and the telegraph made it an obvious necessity. One of the optimistic theory’s of the book is, man’s obsessive desire to improve efficiency, will as a bi-product, make us a true global village.I read and wrote the above review in 2000. To Gleick's credit, 10 years later I can still recall some of his unique case studies.

  • Derrick Trimble
    2019-03-14 12:11

    James Gleick is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. His skill in presenting a thematic read is enjoyable through and through. Turns on phrases, quips and quotes, matched by insightful expertise augment a rich educational journey. As evident by the subtitle, 'The Acceleration of Just About Everything,' the world has raced on since the book was first released in 1999. Many of the references are now defunct, obsolete,...invalid. The world has not slowed down over the past fifteen years marking the validity of Gleick's observations with cruel passing. Had I read this book when it first hit the stores, I probably would have marked it as a favorite along side Toffler and Gladwell.

  • Barry
    2019-03-13 04:30

    Mr. Gleick throws out a topic of interest to his readers: people are trying to cram more things into their day, and he looks at some of the reasons for this as well as the consequences of it. Faster is a really neat idea, but it has a tendency to read like an essay (or investigative newspaper article) that has been filled out to book length. There is nothing inherently wrong with doing that, but the chapters tend to start fast and then plod along, straying from the theme of the chapter and book. There are several chapters that left me scratching my head over their inclusion, but it remains an interesting book and one worth reading.

  • Kathy
    2019-03-21 10:15

    The dichotomy - more time saving devices and technologies vs not enough time in a day... - ... save time for more leisure vs how to 'fill' up that leisure with acceptable, profitable activities...our obsession with seconds... milliseconds... the book is full of information and surveys about how people use time, and how that has changed in the last hundred... fifty... ten... one year as radio/TV/internet/cell phones/etc. have interacted with people to be what they are... and that in many ways, people are not taking advantage of the benefits but are stuck on a treadmill that moves ever faster.

  • Yofish
    2019-03-10 11:16

    Essays on how people and machines and life in general is just going faster and faster. The funny thing is he talks about the internet and mobile phones and things like that, and it was written in 1998! So it's weirdly dated. Some interesting factoids--many elevators have their 'door closed' button disabled. The button is just there to make people feel like they have something to do. People are terrible at estimating how much time they spent doing one thing or another. But the datedness was too distracting, and a lot of it was just general, well-trod rants about the good ol' days, when people would take time to smell the roses.