Saturday 19 September 2015

Book Review - The Age of Earthquakes

I was at the library this week and saw The Age of Earthquakes on the feature shelf. It's a small pocketbook size and is very strangely set up.

A highly provocative, mindbending, beautifully designed, and visionary look at the landscape of our rapidly evolving digital era.

50 years after Marshall McLuhan's ground breaking book on the influence of technology on culture in The Medium is the Message, Basar, Coupland and Obrist extend the analysis to today, touring the world that’s redefined by the Internet, decoding and explaining what they call the 'extreme present'.

THE AGE OF EARTHQUAKES is a quick-fire paperback, harnessing the images, language and perceptions of our unfurling digital lives. The authors offer five characteristics of the Extreme Present (see below); invent a glossary of new words to describe how we are truly feeling today; and ‘mindsource’ images and illustrations from over 30 contemporary artists. Wayne Daly’s striking graphic design imports the surreal, juxtaposed, mashed mannerisms of screen to page. It’s like a culturally prescient, all-knowing email to the reader: possibly the best email they will ever read.

Welcome to THE AGE OF EARTHQUAKES, a paper portrait of Now, where the Internet hasn’t just changed the structure of our brains these past few years, it’s also changing the structure of the planet. This is a new history of the world that fits perfectly in your back pocket.

When first glancing through the book, it seems to involve a lot of disconnected images and statements.

Reading the book from start to finish, though, is a fascinating. I can't picture two people working on a book together let alone three, Douglas Coupland, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Shumon Basa, plus thirty artists. What they managed to do is create a fast reading, thought provoking book.

It speaks to how the Internet and cell phones have shrunk the world, keeping people connected while at the same time isolating individuals. How we live longer but experience life fast. The Age of Earthquakes is a book that makes a person think.

I found an interesting interview with the three writers about their thoughts on our current technological age and where it might be taking us.

To me, this book is a necessary read for everybody!

1 comment:

Kim Aippersbach said...

Douglas Coupland always does really interesting, weird stuff. Some of it I really like, but I don't always understand it; I think he's smarter than me! (Either that or he's obsessed with things that don't matter to me at all, which is also possible.) I bet my sons would get this book better than I would, but I'm definitely curious about it.