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Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World
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Published:
Penguin Publishing Group 2016
Status:
Checked Out
Description
“A house of wonders itself. . . . Wonderland inspires grins and well-what-d'ya-knows” —The New York Times Book Review

From the New York Times–bestselling author of How We Got to Now and Extra Life, a look at the world-changing innovations we made while keeping ourselves entertained.


This lushly illustrated history of popular entertainment takes a long-zoom approach, contending that the pursuit of novelty and wonder is a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change. Steven Johnson argues 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 colorful 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.  
 
In Wonderland, 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.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
11/15/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780399184505
ASIN:
B01CZCW2PQ
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Steven Johnson. (2016). Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Steven Johnson. 2016. Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Steven Johnson, Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World. Penguin Publishing Group, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Steven Johnson. Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World. Penguin Publishing Group, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
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Date Updated:
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title
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fullDescription
“A house of wonders itself. . . . Wonderland inspires grins and well-what-d'ya-knows” —The New York Times Book Review

From the New York Times–bestselling author of How We Got to Now and Extra Life, a look at the world-changing innovations we made while keeping ourselves entertained.


This lushly illustrated history of popular entertainment takes a long-zoom approach, contending that the pursuit of novelty and wonder is a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change. Steven Johnson argues 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 colorful 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.  
 
In Wonderland, 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.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from October 10, 2016
        In this charming study, Johnson (How We Got to Now) examines how the seemingly frivolous and unproductive aspects of society—the things people do for fun, pleasure, and entertainment—have influenced, defined, and created the world. “This is a history of play,” he writes, “a history of the pastimes that human beings have concocted to amuse themselves as an escape from the daily grind of subsistence.” According to Johnson, the development of music led to the computer age, the invention of public eating and drinking establishments progressed to cultural and ideological revolution, and games of chance inspired the creation of whole new mathematical fields. In food, fashion, athletics, and commerce, Johnson explores the surprising ways in which one discovery follows from another, often over the course of centuries. “Ignore the pleasure those institutions generated,” he suggests, “and focus on the innovations or historical sea changes they helped bring about: public museums, the age of exploration, the rubber industry, stock markets, programmable computers, the industrial revolution, robots, the public sphere, global trade.” In an entertaining and accessible style, he takes tangents that arrive at sometimes startling conclusions, like a magician practicing misdirection. Less focused on the why than the how, Johnson connects the dots in a way that sheds new light on everyday concepts.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        October 15, 2016

        Johnson (How We Got to Now) inverts the premise that the industrial revolution and technology gave rise to a leisure class that had time for play and hobbies and instead proposes that concepts and inventions from the world of leisure contributed to the building of modern life. Both fun and invention share a need for novelty and surprise, and it is the pursuit of the new that propels history. The author demonstrates how colonialism arose not from the need for Malthusian necessities such as food staples and clothing but from an ever-increasing appetite for fresh and different goods. In addition to investigating cuisine and fashion, the book explores how nonessential activities (e.g., music, entertainment, and games) directly contributed to technological advances in computing, virtual reality, logic, and mathematics. Johnson concludes by examining how public spaces such as bars and coffee shops have occupied an important role in political revolutions and the re-creation of entire professions (journalism, insurance). VERDICT An engaging survey full of unexpected connections that readers of a historical or sociological bent will find particularly riveting.--Wade M. Lee, Univ. of Toledo Lib.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from November 1, 2016
        You will find the future wherever people are having the most fun, writes the author of How We Got to Now (2014) and host of the PBS show of the same name, who in this history of what we do for fun goes back in time to examine the small moments of curiosity, serendipity, and delight that led to unexpected and groundbreaking innovations. We learn how an obsession with spices and a specific purple dye launched the age of global exploration and trade. We witness cotton evolve from a mere fashion statement to a cause of the Civil War. And we see a young Charles Babbage inspired to invent computer programming because of a nineteenth-century automated doll. Johnson is a master storyteller, weaving disparate elements together into a rich and seamless tapestry of technology and human history. That the book also has its own companion podcast of the same name is fitting, since his writing is just as pleasing to the ears as it is on the page. This is a great book for all curious readers, especially the history-averse, who will enjoy the fast pace, topical diversity, and abundant trivia.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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“A house of wonders itself. . . . Wonderland inspires grins and well-what-d'ya-knows” —The New York Times Book Review

From the New York Times–bestselling author of How We Got to Now and Extra Life, a look at the world-changing innovations we made while keeping ourselves entertained.


This lushly illustrated history of popular entertainment takes a long-zoom approach, contending that the pursuit of novelty and wonder is a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change. Steven Johnson argues 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...
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