Cornet Taxonomy & Kevin Kelly’s ‘What Technology Wants’

A bunch of us musically inclined people are this week discussing early Wired editor Kevin Kelly‘s recent book, What Technology Wants, over at Molly Sheridan‘s excellent blog,, aka Mind the Gap, where she has previously hosted online book clubs about Tara Hunt’s The Whuffie Factor, Dave Hickey’s The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty, and Lawrence Lessig’s Remix. I just uploaded my first post on the book, in which I ponder what exactly Kelly’s thesis — which involves how technological advancement can be likened to evolutionary development — means for the projected future of traditional instruments, such as the trumpet.

In one of the book’s more memorable anecdotes, Kelly reports how noted paleontologist Niles Eldredge has such an interest in the development of the trumpet, that he has applied his exceptional taxonomic skills to the history of the related instrument, the cornet — research summarized graphically here:

The above chart shows the “design heritage for each musical instrument” and “how some branches borrow from earlier models or nonadjacent (dotted lines), unlike organic evolution.”

More on the past and future of technology, and Kelly’s evolutionary comparison, at

And for the time being, please don’t comment below; if you have anything to add (or detract), do so over at Sheridan’s blog, since she took the time and effort to put together this book club.

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