Saturday, March 19, 2005

The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > 'Dark Hero of the Information Age': The Original Computer Geek

The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > 'Dark Hero of the Information Age': The Original Computer Geek: "But there's another kind of scientist who never breaks through, usually because while his discovery is revolutionary it's also maddeningly hard to summarize in a simple sentence or two. He never produces a catchy hit single. He's more like a back-room influencer: his work inspires dozens of other innovators who absorb the idea, produce more easily comprehensible innovations and become more famous than their mentor could have dreamed. Find an influencer, and you'll find a deeply bitter man.
Norbert Wiener -- the inventor of ''cybernetics'' -- is precisely this type of scientist. Odds are that you are only dimly aware of cybernetics, if at all. (A friend asked me, ''Isn't that like Dianetics?'') ''Dark Hero of the Information Age,'' by the journalists Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, intends to correct this, but their book struggles with the circular tautologies of fame: it must continually plead the case of why the guy ought to have been better known."

Thoughtful review of a sad story.
Post a Comment