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Hal Niedzviecki dropped by to talk about his new book, Trees On Mars: Our Obsession With the Future. He shares his provocative criticisms of futurism and digital groupthink in an amiable and entertaining manner. Your humble host got tongue-tied trying to pronounce this guy's name (it's Nid--vee-etski) but found the book and our conversation quite engaging. Niedzviecki's previous books include The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors, and we agree that the subtitle is too long.
He cites many examples of our extreme focus on the future at the expense of the present, and makes his case repeatedly. He shares my view of "Saint Steve" Jobs, and in this wide-ranging ramble, we talk about the role of technology in our drive to "win the future", as President Obama has put it.
We talk about the tracking and data collection enabled by our smartphones, the self-reporting we do on in social media, and the mindset that leaves us feeling left out if we don't have the latest gadgets or aren't in on the latest viral video.
We also talk about the tracking of workers at distribution centers and driving delivery trucks, and the human costs of maximizing productivity.