Power to the people

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Science  22 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6297, pp. 355
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf9323

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The American electric grid is the largest machine in the world. But bigger is not necessarily better. While other technological innovations sprint ahead of social change, when it comes to deeply institutionalized systems like the grid, we often neglect urgent maintenance and delay critical upgrades. In The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, cultural anthropologist Gretchen Bakke dives deep into the history of the electric power grid, revealing how the social sciences help us understand infrastructure and technological management as deeply social qualities.