The author's “big idea” is called “Radical Transparency,” what the rest of us have been calling “Open Books for decades. I like it, and in the context of his elegant story-telling, I buy in. This book also goes to a five because it is an Information Operations (IO) books, ably focused on data, information, and information-sharing as well as collective sense-making. He author anticipates most of us becoming “active agents” for change, armed with information as Thomas Jefferson understood so well.
CORE NUGGET: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is not done for most things, but when done right, it is mainly data and it tracks impacts on human health, ecosystems, climate change, and resource draw-down, for every single component and every single process including transport, packaging, etcetera. Toward the end of the book when the author talks about how an LCA commons is emerging, and quotes Andy Ruben of normally ultra-evil Wal-Mart as saying that LCA innovation “is the largest strategic opportunity companies will see for the next fifty years,” I am seriously impressed.
An MIT publication from 2007, this is actually knowledge from the 2000-2004 timeframe, and it is annoying narrow knowledge written from legal-economic point of view. Well-intentioned, no doubt, this is not the “inter-disciplinary” work that it claims to be, and I demonstrate restraint in not scoring it as a three. Despite references to Yochai Benkler's The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom and Lawrence Lessig's The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, these folks are largely out of touch with Web 2.0 to Web 4.0, collective intelligence, wealth of networks, and tao of democracy concepts, authors, and works. This is not a substantive contribution to evolutionary anything (cultural evolution, evolutionary activism, conscious evolution). The index STINKS and there is no consolidated bibliography.
This is not a book that focuses on innovation as much as on structured processes and conventions. I left it at four in part because this is a very good job on one part of the elephant (the anus or intellectual property of old part) and I really appreciated the six of the twelve contributions by Nancy Kranich, James Boyle, Peter Suber, Shubha Ghosh, Peter Levine, Charles M Schweik.
However, and despite other's averaging a four, I feel such a sense of respect for what these two authors have done (with a superb bilbiography and a good index) that I cannot qualify this with less than five stars.
The two nuggets for me, with my interest in Epoch B leadership and self-organizing communities, came at the end:
7 Stars–Nobel Prize (Of Old, Before Devalued) – Life Transformative Insights
November 28, 2009
QUOTE: “Non-zero-sumness is a kind of potential–a potential for overall gain, or for overall loss, depending on how the game is played.”
This book is one of the most sophisticated, deep, documented, and influential I have ever read, right up there with Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. Published in 2000, this book has NOT received the marketing promotion or the public attention it merits.
THIS BOOK HAS SUBSTANTIALLY ALTERED MY PERCEPTION OF EVERYTHING ELSE.
I would normally rate this book a four because of its lack of reference to Buckminster Fuller (see Critical Path; the Open Money movement; or the literature on wealth of networks, fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, and collective intelligence, but I make it a solid five for three reasons:
Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth
Today's economic crisis is the worst since the Great Depression. However, as David Korten shows, the steps being taken to address it do nothing to deal with the reality of a failed economic system. It's like treating cancer with a bandage. Korten identifies the deeper sources of the failure: Wall Street institutions that have perfected the art of creating “wealth” without producing anything of real value: phantom wealth. Our hope lies not with Wall Street, Korten argues, but with Main Street, which creates real wealth from real resources to meet real needs.