The elegance of many of the engraved plates in Cartographies of Time and the chaste beauty of the instruments in Alpern’s collection suggest a mastery of experience. For some, all of this can be counted as a prehistory to the elegance of the iPhone, and they are not entirely wrong. What of course worries some of us about the wired world is that it may tend to alienate the imagination from artisanal experience—although the more deeply you understand the new hardware and the new software the less true that may be, I’m not sure. The eighteenth-century fellow with his drawing instruments in their spiffy shagreen case surely had something in common with the twenty-first century architect sketching on his iPad. And anybody as obsessed with diagrams as some of the seventeenth-century antiquarians featured in Cartographies of Time would have shouted for joy had they been able to time travel to the twenty-first century and take a crash course in the new technology. But if you want to imagine the past as prologue, you also have to entertain the thought of the present as epilogue. Can the artisanal imagination outlive artisanal practice? And without the artisanal imagination can the creative imagination survive? Such are the larger questions that are provoked by these voluptuous volumes in which—nifty thought—the nerds rule.