Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How We Got to Now

I only occasionally comment on what I watch on tv or Netflix. Today, however, I want to suggest a show which I am finding fascinating, unusual and educational. It is on Netflix and is called How We Got to Now with Steven Johnson.

Johnson takes one aspect of our lives, goes back to the beginnings of time and traces the development of that trait through to today. He is erudite, clever, and interesting without being too intellectual. And he traces the traits through developments that were made by garage or basements tinkerers, usually inventors we have never heard of and whose names we do not know.

He also shows how one invention or development can lead to others in a totally different field. One fascinating, logical example: Glass. Glass was around, there were even some little lenses being made. And then Gutenberg invented the printing press ~ and suddenly there was a great demand for spectacles so that ordinary people with aging eyesight could read the printed word.

We know about the printing press. We know about glasses for our eyes. Have we ever put together their historical, developmental juxtaposition? I hadn't. Over and over Johnson makes such connections that bring us from early history of glass to the fiberoptic network which runs, , our interconnected world today. And that is just the episode on glass.

Other episodes, equally as fascinating, deal with Clean, Time, Light, Cold and Sound. This is an interesting series, worth watching for all of us and clever enough to be enjoyed by the whole family. Here's to fun watching and good conversation afterwards!


wallace ford said...

Thanks for the suggestion. Sounds intriquing. My curosity is picqued.

Tahoe Mom said...

I think you will enjoy it. Let me know.

Mike Christie said...

I was disappointed in the book. I suspect that this works much better as a TV series. (Which , btw, originally aired on PBS.) It has been compared to James Burke's "Connections" which I absolutely loved in the 1980's. Glad to know it is now on Netflix. I'll be checking it out, as I missed the original PBS go-around. I think that was right around the time we were trying to get moved.

Tahoe Mom said...

Mike, I think it does work better on tv with diagrams and some funny visuals from old movies and tv shows. Lots of visuals to support the audio - plus Johnson is moving around and sometimes even participating in a science experiment. I've not read the book. I like this show very much. And I do like the connections he makes ~ they seem so obvious when he makes them and yet I keep finding myself saying "well of course, amazing".