Kirkus Reviews QR Code
ALWAYS ON by Brian X. Chen

ALWAYS ON

How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future--and Locked Us In

By Brian X. Chen

Pub Date: June 7th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-306-81960-5
Publisher: Da Capo/Perseus

A swift, engaging analysis of how the iPhone is changing the way technology is integrating contemporary society.

Wired reporter Chen asserts that so-called “always-on gadgets” like high-tech smart phones are ushering in what he calls the “anything-anytime-anywhere future,” where consumers will become increasingly inundated with data and technological functionality. In concise, enthusiastic language, he argues that, however daunting, this type of progress isn’t harmful since the advantages of devices like iPods are limitless in their enjoyment. The author issues a hefty caveat that users greatly sacrifice their personal privacy in exchange, however. Chen’s narrative includes his personal experiences navigating life armed with an arsenal of modern gadgetry, including a soured online love affair that necessitated him to disconnect from electronic communications for a month. He ably traces the genesis of Internet search engines, web browsers and the “perfect device” itself, the iPhone—from its pricey emergence on the cellular marketplace to a high-demand, second-generation release complete with “App Store” compatibility. The author spends considerable time on the advent of these downloadable applications (“apps”), and, an obvious enthusiast, he extols their many benefits, from everyday conveniences like reading media online or booking a restaurant reservation and a taxicab home, to medical apps that could potentially save lives, assist doctors or find a thief’s location or a missing person (via GPS). Chen adroitly examines the intricate nuances of the “always-on” society and intelligently puts forth a “realistic portrait of our future.” He claims that while modern technology may be overloading us and enabling our compulsive tendencies, it has also created a “terrifyingly beautiful and exciting time to live.”

A relevant, refreshingly charismatic nod to personal technology, its innovators and, of course, everything Apple.