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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday October 21 2018, @09:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the documenting-our-tech-tree dept.

Imagine that in the future you can rent time machines just as easily as you can rent a car. Paradoxes are nicely sidestepped, and you even get the handy pamphlet "1001 Fun Ways to kill Hitler". Sounds great, right? Suppose that time machine breaks down. Turns out it's easier to re-invent civilization than it is to fix said machine, and that's what this book purports to do.

This book is chock full of tidbits, like this on buttons. People wore buttons for thousands of years as ornaments. It was only fairly recently someone realized they could hold clothes closed. This is disgraceful and embarrassing. You can do better.

Scalzi's page describes this book much better than I can. Need to know which animals to domesticate? Covered. Foods to cultivate? Covered. Crop rotation? Compass? Non-sucky numbers? Forge? Birth Control? Logic? Chemistry? Steel? check, check, check, check, ...., check.

This is not a textbook, there is no math, and minimal theory on why things work. It's focused on why and how, not "how does it work?".

I got my copy from the library and, after an hour or two, ordered my own copy from Amazon. I'm sure my fellow Soylenters will also love this book.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 21 2018, @11:24PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 21 2018, @11:24PM (#751805)

    I hate to be the downer here, but I can't help but be that guy today. :)

    These type of stories miss a critical part of the equation. Will the people actually believe you in the past? Regardless of your ability to be 100% correct. Will you be able to influence them into buying, using, accepting your inventions? There are many examples throughout history where the general public has been "sold" something that is just plain wrong. And the person doing the selling made millions (or whatever equivalent power/influence/etc. the person was after). There are also many examples of people who are right and are just not believed. A "Casandra syndrome" situation.

    For a relevant example, I moved from a top tier tech company (think Google, Facebook, Amazon level company - it's actually one of those three...) to a second tier tech company. I thought going in that I could help them solve a bunch of problems because I'd seen several solutions to those exact problems already. Like this story, I essentially went back in time when joining the new tech company. What I found was that they rejected most of the solutions I proposed. Even those my team prototyped to prove they worked and were of value. The company's culture was such that they did not accept the new/modern ways of building software. Think monoliths instead of services, leaders who make all the decisions, product prioritized over tech such that systems rotted and failed regularly, and more.

    So, just knowing the answer is not the key. It's being able to get everyone around you to believe the answer is correct and follow it. In reality, the correctness of the answer doesn't matter if the person doing the selling is influential enough.

    The book I want to read is the one that explains how to get everyone to believe in the solutions you are proposing. Of course, those books likely exist and are what modern CEOs use to get where they are...

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  • (Score: 2, Disagree) by realDonaldTrump on Sunday October 21 2018, @11:39PM (1 child)

    by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Sunday October 21 2018, @11:39PM (#751810) Homepage Journal

    Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life -- best book on! []

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 22 2018, @03:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 22 2018, @03:50PM (#752017)

      Gag me.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Farkus888 on Sunday October 21 2018, @11:42PM

    by Farkus888 (5159) on Sunday October 21 2018, @11:42PM (#751812)

    That book exists and is called "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court"

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by anubi on Sunday October 21 2018, @11:48PM

    by anubi (2828) on Sunday October 21 2018, @11:48PM (#751815) Journal

    Isn't it frustrating to have taken the trouble to understand what you are doing, only to be out-sold by a guy selling bullshit?

    How do you think ol Steven Krivet [] must have felt up against all the "Doctorates" pushing Rossi's ECAT? I know good and well Steven was demonstrating perfectly good paradigms as to how to verify the ECAT, and no one seemed much interested in allowing him to test the thing, as the paychecks from the investors depended on them not understanding what they were doing.

    While highly paid men dressed in suits, shook hands, and signed investor's money away, neatly substituting presentation skills in lieu of knowledge of what they were doing.

    "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]