--- Henry David Thoreau
Cited by http://quotationsbook.com/quote/44734/ to be from Walden (1854), ch. 1, p. 67 .
"Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate."
I found it via Miller & Page, Complex Adaptive Systems (2007), p. 215