We use water, electricity, and the internet every day--but how do they actually work? And what’s the plan to keep them running for years to come? This nonfiction science graphic novel takes readers on a journey from how the most essential systems were developed to how they are implemented in our world today and how they will be used in the future.
What was the first message sent over the internet? How much water does a single person use every day? How was the electric light invented?
For every utility we use each day, there’s a hidden history--a story of intrigue, drama, humor, and inequity. This graphic novel provides a guided tour through the science of the past--and reveals how the decisions people made while inventing and constructing early technology still affect the way people use it today.
Full of art, maps, and diagrams, Hidden Systems is a thoughtful, humorous exploration of the history of science and what needs to be done now to change the future.
An unnamed narrator marvels at "how little I know about everyday things" in the initial chapter of this illuminating graphic novel debut. According to the narrator, a hidden system is "something we don't notice until it breaks"; when commonplace amenities such as water, electricity, and the internet are working the way they should, "we take for granted the benefits they provide some of us, and disregard the harm they cause others." In subsequent chapters, Nott breaks down the origins, basic functioning, and cultural impact of each aforementioned industry into easily digestible graphs and panels, rendered in cyan lines reminiscent of technological and architectural blueprints. While these systems act as the foundation of society, however, the text posits that they can also be harbingers of "inequality and environmental harm." A chapter on electricity, for example, touches on how hydropower, while not requiring carbon fuel, still causes "drastic disruption to the environment, local and Indigenous communities, and wildlife." A necessary introductory approach to everyday systems that briefly interrogates the bias and inequalities imbedded within them. Ages 12–up.