Academic journal article et Cetera

Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences

Academic journal article et Cetera

Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences

Article excerpt

Edward Tenner. Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences. New York: Knopf, 1996.

Contrary to futurist Alvin Toffler's prediction in The Third Wave that "making paper copies of anything is a primitive use of (electronic word processing) machines and violates their spirit," Edward Tenner noticed that, in his workplace, the use of personal computers, networking, and electronic mail had not reduced the amount of paper being used. In fact, Tenner's colleagues were making lots of back-up hard copies, circulating files across departments, and networking had actually multiplied paper use. Tenner wrote an essay, "The Paradoxical Proliferation of Paper" to describe this phenomenon and started to look around at "the strange consequences of nearly everything." He became a connoisseur of what he calls "revenge effects" - the unintended ironic consequences of the mechanical, chemical, biological and medical forms of ingenuity that have been the hallmarks of the "progressive," improvement-obsessed twentieth century.

In Why Things Bite Back you will learn about such revenge effects as: low-tar cigarettes, which may encourage smokers to defer quitting altogether; the meltdown at Chernobyl, which occurred during a test of enhanced safety designs; and personal office computers, which may cause executives to waste time on what are essentially clerical tasks. …

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