Saturday, December 15, 2012

What is David Hochfelder reading?

This weekend's featured contributor at Writers Read: David Hochfelder, author of The Telegraph in America, 1832-1920.

His entry begins:
I read very broadly, though with definite preferences, if that makes sense. I cycle between non-fiction, usually dealing with economics and technology, and fiction, particularly science fiction. I am fortunate to have a wonderful public library and access to a good university library, so I rarely need to buy books for my leisure reading. I own a Kindle and iPad and love them both, but I really think it’s important to support public libraries.

I am a big fan of Iain M. Banks’s Culture novels. They take place in a far future in which humanity lives in a post-scarcity galaxy. The Culture is run by artificial intelligences and it’s unclear whether humans are equal partners or merely indulged pets. Perhaps both. I recently read his most recent Culture novels, Surface Detail and The Hydrogen Sonata. What I find most appealing about Banks is that he asks serious philosophical questions about what life would be like in a world where leisure, abundance, and immortality are assumed to be the normal state of existence. And what life would be like in a world...[read on]
About The Telegraph in America, 1832-1920, from the publisher:
Telegraphy in the nineteenth century approximated the internet in our own day. Historian and electrical engineer David Hochfelder offers readers a comprehensive history of this groundbreaking technology, which employs breaks in an electrical current to send code along miles of wire. The Telegraph in America, 1832–1920, examines the correlation between technological innovation and social change and shows how this transformative relationship helps us to understand and perhaps define modernity.

The telegraph revolutionized the spread of information—speeding personal messages, news of public events, and details of stock fluctuations. During the Civil War, telegraphed intelligence and high-level directives gave the Union war effort a critical advantage. Afterward, the telegraph helped build and break fortunes and, along with the railroad, altered the way Americans thought about time and space. Hochfelder thus supplies us with an introduction to the early stirrings of the information age.
Learn more about The Telegraph in America, 1832-1920 at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

Writers Read: David Hochfelder.

--Marshal Zeringue