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Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet by William H. Davidow

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What the Steam Engine Can Teach Us about the Internet

I grew up in a small Chicago suburb in the 1940s. On cold winter evenings, my mother would drive us to meet my father’s train from the city. At the station, she would sit in the warm car with the engine running while I jumped out into the freezing cold and ran along the platform, hoping to spot the headlight of the approaching locomotive. Eventually, it would appear in the distance, growing brighter, the roar of the engine getting louder. Smoke streamed from the train’s stack, quickly lost to the darkness. Finally, the massive black locomotive, its iron brakes pressing against giant drive wheels, would screech, then wheeze to a halt a few feet from where I stood. The smell of steam escaping ...

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