Productivity Primer–One of Five Basic Books for InfoAge,
April 8, 2000
Robert R Carkhuff
This book had a profound influence on me, helping me to understand that the functions fulfilled by an employee dealing with “things” are completely distinct from the functions fulfilled by an employee dealing with “ideas”, and that completely different educational, training, management, and compensation models are needed for the new “Gold Collar” worker. From this book I realized that virtually everything we are doing in U.S. education and U.S. personnel management and training today is way off the mark and at least a decade if not two or three decades behind where we could be in human productivity management.
Priceless Early Look at Hackers with “The Right Stuff”,
April 7, 2000
This is “the” book that described the true origin of “hacking” as in “pushing the edge of the envelope” by writing a complex program in six lines of code instead of ten. This is a really superior piece of work about computer cultures and the people that belong to them. It is a wonderfully readable book with magnificent insights into the psychology of the young people at the bleeding edge of the computer frontier.
Building on a series of article for WIRED Magazine, Kevin explains ten rules for the new Internet-based economy that make more and more sense as time goes on. From “follow the free” to “feed the web first” and on to “from places to spaces” and “relationship technology”, his insights provide an easy to understand map of where the digital economy is going.
Creating World Brain and the Virtual Intelligence Community
April 7, 2000
E. O. Wilson
EDITED 9 July 2007 to add comment and links to other books.
Comment: This is still one of the best books for someone who wants to think deeply about knowledge. Below are links to some others I recommend.
Our answer to Levy, but an order of magnitude more practical and steeped in some of the best endnotes I’ve ever enjoyed. Consilience is the “jumping together” of knowledge across boundaries, and the greatest enterprise of the mind. He begins with an example, showing how biology, ethics, social science, and environmental policy must all come together to properly resolve a global environmental issue, but actually do not-the learned individuals are fragmented into four separate communities, and within those communities further fragmented into nationalities and cliques and jobs, and it is our greater loss for we cannot arrive at the best policy without being able to integrate the knowledge across all these boundaries. He emphasizes that the public must be educated and have access to this unified knowledge, not just the policymakers. He poses, and then answers across the book, this question: “What is the relation between science and the humanities, and how is it important to human welfare?” In my own mind, Edward O. Wilson has defined both national and global intelligence writ large, and done so in way that suggests the “virtual intelligence community” is a very practical and achievable vision.
Paul, former Chief Information Officer for Xerox and later Director of Defense Information, used this book to address the basic issues of employee productivity in relation to information technology. This is one of a very few books, including those by Carkhuff, Cleveland, Kelly, and Toffler, that I regard as fundamental-required reading for anyone with any authority over anything.
Kevin, a WIRED Magazine editor who spoke, with Stewart Brand, at OSS ’94, has produced what I regard as one of the top five books of this decade. A very tough read but worth the effort. I had not understood the entire theory of co-evolution developed by Stewart Brand and represented in the Co-Evolution Quarterly and The Whole Earth until I read this book. Kevin introduces the concept of the “hive mind”, addresses how biological systems handle complexity, moves over into industrial ecology and network economics, and concludes with many inspiring reflections on the convergence of biological and technical systems. He was easily a decade if not two ahead of his time.
This dude is a heavy hitter, and it says a lot that this one made it over the water from the French original. Clearly a modern day successor to Jacques Ellul (The Technological Society) and before him Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Levy begins with the premise that the prosperity of any nation or other entity depends on their ability to navigate the knowledge space, and the corollary proposition that the knowledge space will displace the spaces of the (natural) earth, (political) territory, or (economic) commodity. He is acutely conscious of the evil of power, and hopes that collective intelligence will negate such power. He ends with a warning regarding our construction of the ultimate labyrinth, cyberspace, where we must refine the architecture in support of freedom, or lose control of cyberspace to power and the evil that power brings with it.