Masthead CMC Magazine / February 1, 1996
BOOK REVIEW

Contemplating Roads Less Traveled

by Kevin Hunt

Book Review: The Road Ahead (with accompanying CD-ROM)
by Bill Gates, with Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson
Viking, 1995
286 pages
ISBN: 0-670-77289-5
$29.95 (US); $39.99 (Canada)

A few years ago I drove across the United States on Interstate 80. If you've ever done the same, you probably have lingering images of various landscapes you encountered along the way, images evoked whenever someone mentions any of the states you drove through. For me, Pennsylvania = green rolling hills; Nebraska = corn as far as the eye can see; Nevada = scrub brush amidst brown and gray desolation. And so on. The problem is, the images you associate with the whole of each state are based solely on the tiny ribbon of land encompassing your field of vision on either side of the highway as you drove along. Any other qualities of those states were beyond your vision, beyond your experience.

The trick, of course, is to remember that lying beyond the tiny strips of land on either side of the highway are countless other images, countless other people, countless other ways of seeing the world.

Now, substitute a journey through time--your own personal drive through life, if you will--for that highway journey. Think about the images of the world you've gained during your drive--experiences that have been yours through the opportunities and limitations that come from occupying a particular economic, social, and cultural position on the planet. Then use your experiences to construct the sort of world that will be de rigeur for everyone in the future. If you find this idea a bit presumptuous, if not absurd, you get the idea of what's --problematic about Bill Gates's The Road Ahead.

Kevin Hunt (huntk@rpi.edu) is the Book Review Editor of CMC Magazine.

Copyright © 1996 by Kevin Hunt. All Rights Reserved.

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