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Horse poop propelled us into automobiles. In the early 20th century there were health concerns over all the manure taking up urban streets. That said, we shifted from an actual horse’s power to shifting into Fords and all sorts of other mechanical personal vehicles. By doing that, we reshaped cities and, further, human society.
In A Brief History of Motion, journalist Tom Standage gives a brisk, entertaining look at how we got from point A to point B throughout history. From the origins of the wheel (likely first made in the Carpathian Mountains during the Copper Age), Standage moves through the eras of horses, trains, bicycles, and the mighty automobile. In each step, he illuminates how we’ve been shaped by these inventions and asks important questions like, “Why does red mean stop and green mean go?” “Why do some countries drive on the left, and some on the right?” and “What might travel in a post-car world look like?” Our relationship with personal transportation has evolved and is ever-evolving (we’re moving into an era of rideshares and electric cars— when are we going to finally get personal jet packs?) and Standage asserts that understanding how the modern world came to be is key in moving forward.
Tom Standage is deputy editor of the Economist and the author of six previous history books. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, Wired, and other publications. Standage holds a degree in engineering and computer science from Oxford University.
Mark Harris is an investigative technology reporter based in Seattle, writing regularly for The Guardian, Wired, MIT Technology Review, and TechCrunch. He has a special interest in transportation, breaking stories on giant airships, military drones, GPS attacks, and automated vehicles.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.