I really wanted to like this book, and there are many
fascinating parts of it. But they're just parts - Faster is not
cohesive in the least. A series of essays that tie into each other in
only a meandering way, the book documents our society's obsession with
acceleration. It does fairly well in exploring the past and present,
delving into historical anecdotes in the realms of physics, engineering,
philosophy, the arts, the media, and technology. But it makes no overall
point other than the fact that this acceleration is not unique to the
past few decades but has been a long time coming.
The book seems nothing more than a collection of factoids.
While most of these are compelling and insightful, making them bulleted
paragraphs would have streamlined the book. As it is, Gleick's commentary
and threads of narrative are winding and difficult to wade through. And
who has the time?
I had hoped, due to the author's prescience in timing
this book to Americans' often-overgeneralized fears of accelerating technology
and the Internet, that Gleick would make some predictions. What does
history tell us? Where is this all going? The only vague notion I got
out of it is that we'll just keep accelerating indefinitely. Even the
book cover asks, "When did we begin this 'slide down this long,
strange slope of milliseconds,' and when, if ever, will it stop?" A
question never answered inside.