One Digital Day

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

This luxuriously produced coffee-table book was sponsored by the Intel Corporation, a major manufacturer of the microchip technology celebrated herein by the creators of the popular DAY IN THE LIFE book series. Perhaps that sponsorship accounts for the euphoric mood conveyed by the more than 200 photographs that form a composite visual argument assuring viewers that the microchip has ushered in a truly golden age.

Even a casual flip through the pages convinces one that microchips are everywhere: scattered in all corners of the world, even in deserts, tropical rainforests, and “underdeveloped” countries like Bali, and densely clustered in every area of America, especially the home and workplace. Nearly every imaginable feature of modern life contains or was otherwise made possible by microchip technology.

ONE DIGITAL DAY captures the beauty and magical power of the digital world but softens the blow of its sometimes worrisome cultural and psychological changes by repeatedly picturing almost magically empowered, healed, and happy human beings, and by turning schizoid contrasts into visions of a wonderful future: one picture shows Buddhists devoutly studying on laptop computers; another shows a man in front of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem with a prayer shawl and a cellular phone. These are signs of the times that not everyone will—or should—applaud.

ONE DIGITAL DAY uses dramatic and memorable images to capture the staggering power, beauty, and imaginative and entrepreneurial possibilities of the microchip. But it is by no means a comprehensive treatment of “How the Microchip is Changing Our World” because it avoids examining in detail how the brave new world of the chip is not only rich but also strange and unsettling: the latter glimpsed only in images of unquestionably weird humans opting for a complete “cyberlife,” fleeting mention of the dangers of relentless surveillance, and a brief reference to what some ominously predict will be a disastrous year 2000 (Y2K) collapse of the computer chips on which we rely.