PBS’s How We Got To Now Reveals How Tinkerers Changed Our Lives

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PBS’s How We Got To Now Reveals How Tinkerers Changed Our Lives


HowNow_125x125_bur1With modern research facilities, big budget programs, and manufacturing centers that are seemingly on the other side of the planet, it can be easy to forget that we as tinkerers and hobbyists can change the world.

Throughout human history we see that the very items our civilization is built on were pushed into the forefront by passionate individuals who had a crazy idea. We are here, now, due to tinkerers, inventors, hobbyists, and makers. We have light, clean water, the technology to keep time, and much more, because wild, inventive people pushed the boundaries of what everyone thought was possible and acceptable. The craziest part: You’ve probably never heard of them!

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How We Got To Now, a new series focusing on these individuals and their world-changing creations, premieres at 9pm ET on Wednesday, October 15 on PBS. In this show, best-selling author Steven Johnson will take us through the constant evolution of a single aspect of our society, and point out the incredible people who pushed advancements that improved our world. As he travels around the planet to inspiring locations, Johnson explains how each of the modern technologies that we use in our daily lives came to be, and who the people were that made them.

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There are 6 episodes slated for the show. Each one tackles a topic that affects us daily. Many educational shows have focused on the incredible world of things that are invisible because they are too small, or too far away. How We Got To Now focuses on things that are invisible because we interact with them so much we take them for granted.

  • CLEAN: drinkable water has transformed cities and doubled life spans in the last century and a half
  • COLD: air conditioning and refrigeration has changed our environments and access to food
  • GLASS:  the material that allowed so much of the modern world to be built as it is
  • LIGHT: giving us the ability to live our lives past sunset
  • SOUND: how the journey to harness sound created the modern world of instant communication
  • TIME: dictating coordinated activities around the world that allow us to collaborate

I got a sneak peak and I have to say that Steven was a perfect choice for this show. His enthusiasm and wonder at the things he discovers is contagious. I found myself grinning right along with him as he made connections to things I had previously never thought of. I seek out educational shows to watch together as a family and I was convinced halfway through the opening credits of the first episode: I will be watching this with my kids, and they will love it.

Catch the premiere at 9pm ET Wednesday, October 15 on PBS. You can find more information about the show on PBS’ website along with a few more clips to tide you over till the premiere.

Steven Johnson’s accompanying book “How We Got To Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World” is available from booksellers nationwide.


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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. find me at CalebKraft.com

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