This series explores the various paths of how technological change happens and the social effects of these changes on Western society. To illustrate this, James Burke follows various timelines of how one innovation lead to something seemingly totally unrelated in the future such as how a 17th century Dutch cargo ship design lead to development of plastic in the 20th century.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
When I first saw this series on PBS it was mesmerizing. James Burke was (and still is) a dynamo of enthusiasm for forward thinking science and progress. In his series he does away with epochs and eras of revolutions, and shows us various butterfly effects and inspirations for a plethora of things that helped improve human society.
I have to admit that I was then, and am still now, awed and perplexed as to how one can make such linear connections without the human artifice of defining periods of when certain technological and social explosions and convulsions took place. I'm a throw back to the "it happened in this period" mindset. Burke says "No, it happened like this..." and shows us what invention or discovery did what and for whom, and how that changed human society as a whole (in particular Europe and the US).
We're shown vignettes that describe breakthroughs, inspirations, discoveries, and applications thereof. We're told and shown the social climate of the time, and how times changed and were altered by new innovations.
In short, Burke shows us the connections. He shows us minds of the elite and not-so-privileged making contributions, and how their ideas resonated with one another to create even newer inventions and so on.
Production Values; shot on 16mm, the props, costumes and demonstrations of various apparatus (old and new alike) are top notch, as are the locations. James Burke himself is very energetic and easy to listen to as he explains his logic and paths of reason. The only critique is that the material is dated, but in a good way. Being a product of its age, "Connections" shows us a slice of time I was involved in, when computers were still largely business and university electronic mechanisms, and high technology meant a pocket calculator to do your math homework. It shows us a time when social ignorance of a different sort because of lack of communication was very much prevalent because of the political polarization on an international scope; the US and its allies were 1st world countries, the Soviets and their sphere of influence were the 2nd world, and every other nation not aligned was "the third world", and how this fueled inspiration and connections. So it is that we can go with James Burke to Dubai, London, New York, and Berlin, but not Beijing nor Moscow.
If you're interested in how things got going, and how we in the 70s looked at tomorrow, then definitely give this series a look. You won't be disappointed.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this