I Cannot Control Everything Forever (Book Review)

I Cannot Control Everything Forever

Emily Bloom. 2024. St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 978-1-250-28568-3. 334 pages.

$29.00 (hardback)

Anyone involved in practicing, researching, or teaching about technical communication (and consequently wanting to connect effectively with their audience) should find of interest how Bloom insightfully discusses in I Cannot Control Everything Forever that a person in today’s world can be “laden” with scientific and technical data (front jacket). Also of interest would be Bloom’s look at the history of science and how scientific discoveries have brought the world to this point sometimes of lives centered on data. Bloom’s perspective can provide insight to those involved in technical communication about how best to approach and understand today’s data-driven audience. Also of interest to a technical communicator is how Bloom’s observation that scientific knowledge and data have become increasingly important in the world today. This insight can help the technical communicator better connect with an audience and aim to provide to a user information that is clear and useful.

How did the world get to be so data-driven and interested in science and technology? In an attempt to answer this question, Bloom’s look at snippets of the history of science to help make sense of the current world as she includes subjects such as the identification and treatment of diabetes and development of pregnancy tests and ultrasounds touching many lives with their technology and related data. As to why people today are so data-driven and interested in technology, consider how a home pregnancy test – now an option but not always so – provides technology and data of life-changing importance.

In a section on the history of science, Bloom discusses Alexander Graham Bell’s important work with the hearing impaired. Bloom’s description of Bell’s work is especially engrossing as she explains how Bell’s mother and wife were both deaf and an influence on his work.  Bloom also points out in an interesting narrative that Bell had talent not only in science but also in poetry, music, and art. Bloom reflects such a combination of interests in science and art as she brings works of literature and art into her narrative to bring a humanistic take on her observations.  I Cannot Control Everything Forever is what can be called a meditation on science (front cover) that also brings in pieces of art.

Bloom teaches literature at Sarah Lawrence College. She is also the mother of an exceptional child as she notes that the term “scientific motherhood” (p. 12) applies today as she needs to often look at scientific data to make decisions concerning care of her child. Bloom is a great communicator and engrossing storyteller with an interest in the intersection of science and art – a great perspective for someone involved in technical communication and looking at how best to serve today’s often data-driven audience.

By Jeanette Evans