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The Pinball Effect. How Renaissance Water Gardens Made the Carburetor Possible – and Other Journeys Through Knowledge By James Burke Summary by Horace L. Flournoy. Coordinate System of the Web.

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the pinball effect

The Pinball Effect

How Renaissance Water Gardens Made the Carburetor Possible – and Other Journeys Through Knowledge

By James Burke

Summary by Horace L. Flournoy

coordinate system of the web
Coordinate System of the Web
  • "We all live on the great, dynamic web of change," writes Burke, " person acts without causing change on the web...The Pinball Effect takes 20 different journeys across the great web of change.“
  • Open-ended approach to reading the book. I purposely read this book like a web, I jumped from experiment to experiment in an extremely non-linear fashion.
  • 447 different ways to read the book…
  • I guess I did start from page 1 though, and I finished the first chapter, but I was curious to find out where some of the other “gateways” lead to so I went back….
thoughts on the pinball machine
Thoughts on the Pinball Machine
  • I thought it was phenomenal how Burke is able to connect an everyday house-hold item or a modern idea to a possible invention or idea which is completely irrelevant to end product.
  • Trust and the central theme of the book: I found that as I was reading the book in a non-linear fashion, I thought that I may be missing something…But I had to keep reminding my self that this was in fact advice from the writer himself.
  • I later came to realize that even during the points in the book that I found myself “reading straight through” and not skipping from gateway to gateway, I still felt like the paragraph junctions from one theme to another, perhaps connected by one central event, person, country, or thing (eg. Yankee clipper), was still skipping me around. Which leads me to conclusion 1…
conclusion 1 you are the ball and not the player pressing the flipper buttons
Conclusion 1: You are the ball and not the player pressing the flipper buttons
  • In reading The Pinball Effect, I realized that author James Burke intentionally takes “linear control” and thinking out of your hands.
  • He does not intend his readers to feel like they are traveling from point A to point B, instead you must travel the web, whether you like it or not.
  • As I said earlier, even if you “fight the pinball machine” and purposely read through the book in a linear fashion, the author still makes it seem as if it is non-linear.
  • (eg. Read transition on pg. 124)
conclusion 1 cont know your role
Conclusion 1 (cont.): Know your role!
  • In this way, I began to think of myself, the reader, as the pinball in a pinball machine, constantly getting bounced around and hitting various gateways, or bells, or 1000 point bonuses.
  • In contrast, James Burke is the pinball machine player, sending the minds of his readers in unique pathways.
  • BUT WHY?
conclusion 2 everyone s conclusions will be different
Conclusion 2: everyone’s conclusions will be different
  • Burke intends this book to spark a sense of innovation and creativity to the reader.
  • By journeying the web, individual minds will encounter individual conclusions to the exact same text.
  • “Burke’s implicit claim, they are not series of connected events, forming chains that leads back to the dawn of human technology. Mostly, they form an integral part of human culture, advancing where circumstances permit, or not, in other cases. Burke’s attempt to overlay on this some retrospective order are misleading and unnecessary. “(1) Do you agree?
i do not agree
I do not agree.
  • Burke really intends on the reader to look deeper into the stories and somehow deduce that human inventions and discoveries, much of the time, are somehow tied into one another…
  • If Burke had written this book about inventions and discoveries in the late 1990’s until the present, then I would agree. With the invention of the telephone, the automobile, and the airplane, and now the Internet, I think that human interaction and heightened communication would lead to increased “connectivity of inventions.
  • Remember the story of the tower of Babel?
  • In conclusion, I found it interesting to see other’s opinions on this book, and I also want to hear yours now!
where is the proof
Where is the Proof?
  • everything is connected on the web of life…