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.
By the author of Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, this is actually a manifesto for a popular revolution against banks, corporations, and states-a peaceful cultural revolution that has as its objectives the restoration of land ownership to the commonwealth; the acceptance of alternative economic models that optimize group cohesion instead of individual or organizational profit; and the liberation of 3,000 nations of relatively distinct groups from the subjugation imposed by the states that now have sovereign (that is to say, violent coercive) power over the individuals and groups that fall within their imposed territorial claims.
Information is not a substitute for nature–or for thinking,
April 7, 2000
The author taped all the TV shows being broadcast for 24 hours, then watched all of the shows over the necessary time period, and then spend 24 hours alone with nature. There are some well-thought and well-articulated insights in this book. Information is not a substitute for nature. The information explosion is drowning our senses and cutting us off from more fundamental information about our limitations and the limitations of the world around us. Television really did kill history, in that it continually celebrates and rehashes the 40 years of time for which there is television film on background, and overlooks the 4000 years behind that. The worst disasters move slowly, and the TV cameras don't see them.
Alvin augments our vocabulary with terms like “info-warrior”, “eco-spasm”, “super-symbolic economy” and “powershift.” He examines the relationship between violence, wealth, and knowledge and concludes that an entirely new system of wealth creation is emerging, as well as entirely new approach to information dissemination that places most of our command and control, communications, computing, and intelligence (C4I) investment in the dump heap with the Edsels of the past. He anticipates both the emergence of information wars at all levels, and the demise of bureaucracy. He cautions us about the emerging power of the “Global Gladiators”-religions, corporations, and terrorists (nice little mix) and concludes that in order for nations to maintain their strategic edge, an effective intelligence apparatus will be a necessity and will “boom” in the 21st Century, with the privatization of intelligence being its most prominent break from the past.
What Universities Might Do Better for Their Communities,
April 7, 2000
Mary Lindenstein Walshok
An industrial sociologist by training, now Associate Vice Chancellor for Extended Studies and Public Service at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Walshok begins by challenging universities, exploring the social uses of knowledge, assessing the new knowledge needs of diverse populations, and providing a matrix approach to matching university resources to community knowledge needs. In the second half of the book she focuses on special economic, human, and civic benefits, and ends with her bottom line: neither communities, nor universities, can learn in isolation.
A gift from one of the folks he writes about, this is one of the earliest books about Silicon Valley, and is both enjoyable and useful because of its early focus on the mistakes made by IBM, Xerox Park, 3Com, and other “CIA-like” giants, its discussion of the hit and miss and perserverence nature of the early start-ups, and some really big things to avoid like letting venture capitalists or the marketing staff tell you what to offer the public.