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The Evolution of Useful Things (1992)

di Henry Petroski

UtentiRecensioniPopolaritàMedia votiCitazioni
1,3611710,141 (3.55)15
"Only Henry Petroski, author of The Pencil, could make one never pick up a paper clip again without being overcome with feelings of awe and reverence. In his new book the author examines a host of techno-trivia questions - how the fork got its tines, why Scotch tape is called that, how the paper clip evolved, how the Post-it note came to be, how the zipper was named, why aluminum cans have hollow bottoms - and provides us with answers that both astonish and challenge the imagination." "In addition to an extended discussion of knives, forks, spoons, and other common devices, the author explains how the interplay of social and technical factors affects the development and use of such things as plastic bags, fast-food packaging, push-button telephones, and other modern conveniences. Throughout the book familiar objects serve to illustrate the general principles behind the evolution of all products of invention and engineering." "Petroski shows, by way of these examples as well as a probing look at the patent process, that the single most important driving force behind technological change is the failure of existing devices to live up to their promise. As shortcomings become evident and articulated, new and "improved" versions of artifacts come into being through long and involved processes variously known as research and development, invention, and engineering. He further demonstrates how the evolving forms of technology generally are altered by our very use of them, and how they, in turn, alter our social and cultural behavior." "In this wonderful mixture of history, biography, and design theory, Henry Petroski brings us to an understanding of an essential question: By what mechanism do the shapes and forms of our made world come to be?"--BOOK JACKET.… (altro)
Aggiunto di recente daEmma.June.Lyon, aspirit, jwillisbarrie, ralphz, krguidry, biblioteca privata, ladyars, z-bunch, prima1, chpwssn
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» Vedi le 15 citazioni

I got half way and had to put the book down before my brain melted. Some bits were interesting, but most of what I read was incredibly boring and overly verbose.
  ElentarriLT | Mar 24, 2020 |
Sometimes to much detail and not enough story. ( )
  CassandraT | Sep 23, 2018 |
Did you ever stop to think that the four-tined fork which brings food to your mouth and the two-tined fork you use to hold meat while carving it came from the same food necessity and that they are siblings separated at birth? Probably not, but Petroski did. He goes on to explore to evolution of all sorts of everyday items, like cans and can openers, zippers, and to name a few. His book is filled with interesting facts and even a little humor. The photographs are great, too! ( )
  SeriousGrace | May 4, 2018 |
Interesting, but limited in scope. Good observations that very little is revolutionary...most is evolutionary. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Though a little bit dated, this is an interesting discussion of how design and invention work. Rather than "form follows function," Petroski argues, form follows *failure* - specifically the failure of an existing object to work as well as the designer or inventor imagines it might. To illustrate this, he discusses the incremental development of several common items, including the paper clip, the soda can, the fork, and the proliferation of varieties of tools like hammers and screwdrivers. It's not as organized as the subtitle seems to imply - Petroski covers these things not in an orderly fashion but in a sort of meandering way, as they come into his arguments - but it's clear and interesting reading, only a little dense at times. ( )
1 vota jen.e.moore | May 6, 2017 |
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to my mother,
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The eating utensils that we use daily are as familiar to us as our own hands.
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"Only Henry Petroski, author of The Pencil, could make one never pick up a paper clip again without being overcome with feelings of awe and reverence. In his new book the author examines a host of techno-trivia questions - how the fork got its tines, why Scotch tape is called that, how the paper clip evolved, how the Post-it note came to be, how the zipper was named, why aluminum cans have hollow bottoms - and provides us with answers that both astonish and challenge the imagination." "In addition to an extended discussion of knives, forks, spoons, and other common devices, the author explains how the interplay of social and technical factors affects the development and use of such things as plastic bags, fast-food packaging, push-button telephones, and other modern conveniences. Throughout the book familiar objects serve to illustrate the general principles behind the evolution of all products of invention and engineering." "Petroski shows, by way of these examples as well as a probing look at the patent process, that the single most important driving force behind technological change is the failure of existing devices to live up to their promise. As shortcomings become evident and articulated, new and "improved" versions of artifacts come into being through long and involved processes variously known as research and development, invention, and engineering. He further demonstrates how the evolving forms of technology generally are altered by our very use of them, and how they, in turn, alter our social and cultural behavior." "In this wonderful mixture of history, biography, and design theory, Henry Petroski brings us to an understanding of an essential question: By what mechanism do the shapes and forms of our made world come to be?"--BOOK JACKET.

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