Review: The Two Percent Solution–Fixing America’s Problems in Ways Liberals and Conservatives Can Love

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Best Practices in Management, Change & Innovation, Congress (Failure, Reform), Democracy, Economics, Education (General), Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Future, Intelligence (Public), Justice (Failure, Reform), Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Survival & Sustainment

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5.0 out of 5 stars Re-Opens the Door to a Bright Future for America,

September 24, 2003
Matthew Miller
Edit of 21 Dec 07 to add links.

This book is politically and economically *explosive*. It joins The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics (Halstead & Lind) and The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World (Ray & Anderson) as one of my “top three” in domestic US political economics, and it *also* joins The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy (William Greider) and Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions (Clyde Prestowitz) is my “top three” for international political economics.

This is a cross-over, transformative book that should be meaningful to everyone in the world, but especially to those Americans who wish to break out of the vicious downward spiral caused by partisan politics and voodoo economics–by elected politicians corrupted by special interests and consistently selecting short-term fraudulent “solutions” at the expense of long-term *sustainable” solutions.

By “2% solution” the author means 2 cents of every dollar in the national budget, or roughly what we have already wasted or committed to waste on the misbegotten Iraq invasion and occupation. The author crafts a viable proposition for thinking really big and coming to grips, in time to avert the looming disaster of the baby boomer pensions and the collapse of health care and education, with the four biggest issues threatening the national security and prosperity of the United States of America: universal health care; equal education for all, a living wage for all, and sustainable reliable pensions for all.

He sums it up in a gripping fashion: if we don’t fund smart well-educated kids across the entire country, then we will not have the productivity we need to expand our pension funds and care for the boomers when they hit retirement. Smart kids now, safe retirement for today’s adults. Any questions?

He is candidly (but politely) blunt when he states, and then documents, that both the Republican and Democratic party leaders (less Howard Dean) are lying to us about the answers that are possible (Prologue, page xiii). His book is an earnest–and in my judgement, hugely successful–attempt to create what the author calls an “ideologically androgynous” agenda for achieving social and economic justice in America with a commitment of just two cents on the tax-revenue dollar.

On the issue of teaching, he documents the “teacher gap” as one of the primary reasons for varying levels of performance–a gap that is more important than genetics or environment, and that is also resolvable by sound educational policy and funding. He brutally undresses both the Bush Administration, which is leaving every child behind, and the Democrats, who are “more symbol than cure.” Republican hypocrisy and Democratic timidity receive an equal thrashing.

On living wages, he documents the 25 million that are not covered; on pensions he documents the coming collapse of Social Security and other “off budget” and unprotected funds.

He provides four reasons why we have a dysfunctional debate (and one can surmise: why we need to change the Presidential election process in order to achieve truly open and substantive debates): 1) paralysis from political party parity; 2) old mind-sets and habits shared by *both* Republican and Democratic leaders (less Governor Dean); 3) the failure of the national press to be serious and critical and to contribute to the debates; and 4) the tyranny of charades funded by political contributions.

The book includes an excellent and understandable review of both economic and social justice theory. Of special interest is the author’s discussion of the Rawls Rule for social justice, which is to imagine everyone in an “original position” behind a veil of ignorance where no one knows what their luck will be in the future–the design of the social safety net should provide for the amelioration of any injustice that might befall anyone, and a social promotion system that prevents wealth concentrations that are not beneficial to the larger society–to wit, we must “set some limits on the power of luck to deform human lives.”

The author concludes the book by suggesting that the public is ready for a revolution in U.S. political economic affairs, and in so doing points out how ill-served the U.S. public is by surveys that confuse myopia with honesty–surveys that ask generic questions without revealing the scope of the problem (40 million affected, etc.) with the result that the public is not informed of the depth of the problem–or, as the author suggests–they would *want to do something about it.”

This is a sensible, heartening book. It is a book that gives hope for the future and that displays a proper respect for the good intentions and ability to think of the average citizen. It is a book that, if adopted by any Presidential candidate–or by all of them–could radically alter the public debates that lie before the public in the period leading up to the 2004 election. Every American should read this book and the four books cited above. If Thomas Jefferson was correct when he said, “A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry,” then Matthew Miller just became the first tutor to the new Nation.

New Comment: Between a Tobin tax on every Federal Reserve transaction, an end of income taxes on individuals, and this author’s idea, I am quite certain that we can find and apply a trillion a year against global and domestic high-level threats from poverty to transnational crime, while winding down the military, secret intelligence, prison, and hospital complexes. This is one of the books I would recommend the next President read sooner than later.

See also, with reviews:
One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Revolutionary Wealth: How it will be created and how it will change our lives

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Review: At War with Ourselves–Why America Is Squandering Its Chance to Build a Better World

4 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Complexity & Catastrophe, Culture, Research, Democracy, Economics, Education (General), Environment (Problems), Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Insurgency & Revolution, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), True Cost & Toxicity, Truth & Reconciliation

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4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Supporting Views for Prestowitz’ Rogue Nation,

September 1, 2003
Michael Hirsh
Edit of 21 Dec 07 to add comment and links.

New Comment: I am distressed to see so many important books no longer available. Even though it makes my summative reviews valuable as a trace, I have tried to get Amazon to realize that it should offer such books electrionically, micro-cash for micro-text, and Jeff Besoz just doesn’t want to hear it. I predict that Kindle will fail.

The author has provided a very informed and well-documented view of the competing “axis of thinking” (unilateralism versus multilateral realism) and “axis of feeling” (isolationism versus engagement). The two together create the matrix upon which a multitude of ideological, special interest, and academic or “objective” constituencies may be plotted.

The endorsement of the book by the Managing Editor of Foreign Affairs is a very subtle but telling indictment of the unilateralist bullying that has characterized American foreign policy since 2000–indeed, the author of the book coins the term “ideological blowback” as part of devastatingly disturbing account of all the things that have been done “in our name” on the basis of either blind faith or neo-conservative presumption.

The book received four stars because at the strategic level, Clyde Prestowitz’ book, Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions is better in all ways–easier to read, more detailed, more specifics. Historically, I would bracket this book with the collection of Foreign AffairsThe American Encounter: The United States and the Making of the Modern World Essays from 75 Years of Foreign Affairs articles, , and I would add Wilson’s Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing, and Catastrophe in the 21st Century by McNamara and Blight, Kissinger on Does America Need a Foreign Policy? : Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century, Boren et al on Preparing America’s Foreign Policy for the 21st Century, and finally Joe Nye’s, The Paradox of American Power: Why the World’s Only Superpower Can’t Go It Alone There are many other books I have reviewed on these pages, and one could make a fine evening of reading only the reviews, as they are summative in nature.

In any event, and the reason I mention other books above instead of in the last paragraph, is to make the point that everyone–other than a few obsessive neo-conservatives who happen to hold the reins of power–is saying the same thing: America must engage the real world, in a multilateral fashion.

The author of this book differs from other authors in that he explicitly recognizes, in his preface and then throughout the book, the fact that a coherent U.S. foreign policy cannot be achieved without the U.S. public’s first understanding what is at stake, and then making its voice heard.

The author is also noteworthy in detailing the hypocrisy and ignorance of existing U.S. national security policies. Although Prestowitz does this in a more useful fashion, this book is very valuable and has many gifted turns of phrase. Consider this one, from page 10: “Despite a century of intense global engagement, America is still something of a colossus with an infant’s brain, unaware of the havoc its tentative, giant-sized baby steps can cause. We still have some growing up to do as a nation.”

A third aspect of this book that I found compelling was the author’s continued emphasis on the need to change mind-sets and emphasize *awareness* over “guts”–as he tells this compelling tale, Americans are too quick to show “toughness” when they perhaps should slow down, orient, observe, decide, and then act on the basis of a fully-informed appraisal of all the linkages and potential consequences of their actions.

A fourth valuable feature of this book is the author’s focus on one chapter on American vulnerabilities in the age of globalization and super-empowered angry men. He quotes the incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in explaining to Congress the military’s incapacity to intervene on 9-11, as saying “We’re pretty good if the threat is coming from outside. We’re not so good if it’s coming from inside.”

This leads to the fifth and final aspect of the book that I found noteworthy: the author’s discussion of the mismanagement–even lack of management–of the broad spectrum of the varied instruments of national power. As Suzanne Nossel, a top Holbrook aide puts it, “Today, when it comes to U.S. diplomacy, one hand rarely knows what the other is doing. The U.S. government has no central ledger in which bilateral relationships are tracked. There is no place to turn to find out what the United States has done for a particular country lately, or what a country may want or fear.” The book clearly supports what appears to be an emerging consensus within the Senate that some form of “Goldwater-Nichols Act” for civilian and joint civilian-military national security management.

The endnotes are good, the index useful but annoyingly below 8 font type (possibly as low as 6) which is a very foolish act on the part of the publisher. A readable index would have increased the reference value of this book by at least 10%. The book lacks a bibliography, and here we urge the author to consider one for what we hope will be a second printing: books on realism, books on unilateralism, books on blowback (e.g. The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World, or Why Do People Hate America?), etcetera.

See also:
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress

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Review: Statecraft as Soulcraft

5 Star, Best Practices in Management, Culture, Research, Democracy, Education (General), Information Society, Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy, Politics, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Insights into What Makes Nations Great,

February 28, 2003
George F. Will
Although George Will can be an extremist in some of his views, he has a good mind and is gifted as an author and orator. This is nowhere more evident than in this collection of 20th century essays, where he focuses on “statecraft as soulcraft.” Thomas Jefferson understood that an educated citizenry was a Nation’s best defense, and the Vietnamese have clearly demonstrated that a nation with a strong strategic culture can defeat the United States when it practices the American way of war (lots of technology, little public support for the war). Today we are beginning to understand that the moral aspects of national character are 3-5 times more important than the physical and economic and technical aspects. Michele Borba’s new book, Building Moral Intelligence, together with George Will’s dated but still powerfully relevant book, comprise the urgently needed elementary education for all adults who would be responsibile citizens–or leaders of citizens.
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Review: Guinness World Records 2003

5 Star, Education (General)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Modernized and Entertaining,

January 23, 2003
Claire Folkard
I’ve seen the comments about the “sad decline” and I do not agree. I found the hard cover book not only entertaining and well-structured, but it did something even more important: got my third grader to read it cover to cover.I can see where there is a need for both this kind of entertaining “just the highlights” kind of book, and a second more detailed less illustrated book–that is for the publisher to decide. For myself, this version is modern, entertaining, and therefore it draws the reader in. Glad we bought it.

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Review: Unleashing the Ideavirus

5 Star, Best Practices in Management, Change & Innovation, Education (General)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Gold Collar Guide to Fame and Fortune,

October 5, 2002
Seth Godin
Bottom line on this book is clear: the path to fame and fortune for “gold collar workers” (a term I first saw used by Robert Carkhuff in “The Exemplar: The Exemplary Performer in an Age of Productivity (Human Resource Development Press, 1994) consists of four parts: 1) establish a personal brand name by placing before the marketplace a *free* capstone idea, “manifesto” or other form of self-expression; 2) have a web-site with forwarding email that allows anyone who likes your idea to download it, read it, share it; 3) work hard at getting your idea to a few powerful “sneezers” (the author has an alliance with Malcolm Gladwell, author of “The Tipping Point” and also of the foreword to this book)–pay them if you have to; and 4) let the money flow in from the post-branding offers for speeches, consulting, and new books.I was initially inclined to give this book only 4 stars because it is not a traditional book with a lot of references (it does have an acceptable index) but I realized that the author not only accomplishes all he sets out to do, but the book is a real value in terms of both its financial cost, and time cost–reading this book certainly suggested to me several actionable ideas that will make my web site and my efforts to spread the idea of intelligence reform better. While the author is enamoured of “Fast Company” (the magazine) and works hard to pay back some favors in his text, the various web sites that he mentions, including Epinions, Planetfeedback, and Enfish, are generally relevant and therefore not objectionable.

There are two competing ideas in the book, both worthy of note–first, that the public attention span is so limited that most of the money is made in the first release/first sales period, and then one should move on; and second, that persistence pays and the real money is to be had from the post-branding streams of revenue. I believe this stems from the juxtaposition of how companies make money if they have the wherewithall to to churn the market with a lot of new offerings; and how individuals make money by establishing personal brand names–in general the author is strongest when dealing with what single individuals can and should do to take what they are really good at, package it, put it out (free), and then systematically reap residual financial benefits.

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Review: Clock Of The Long Now–Time And Responsibility: The Ideas Behind The World’s Slowest Computer

5 Star, Best Practices in Management, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Cosmos & Destiny, Culture, Research, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Education (General)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Extraordinary–Core Reading for Future of Earth- Man,

September 29, 2002
Stewart Brand
I confess to being dumb. Although I know and admire the author, who has spoken at my conference, when the book came out I thought–really dumb, but I mention it because others may have made the same mistake–that it was about building a cute clock in the middle of the desert.Wrong, wrong, wrong (I was). Now, three years late but better late than never, on the recommendation of a very dear person I have read this book in detail and I find it to be one of the most extraordinary books–easily in the top ten of the 300+ books I have reviewed on Amazon.

At it’s heart, this book, which reflects the cummulative commitment of not only the author but some other brilliant avant guarde mind including Danny Hillis, Kevin Kelly (WIRED, Out of Control, the Rise of Neo-Biological Civilization), Esther Dyson, Mitch Kapor (Lotus, Electronic Frontier Foundation) and a few others, is about reframing the way people–the entire population of the Earth–think, moving them from the big now toward the Long Here, taking responsibility for acting as it every behavior will impact on the 10,000 year long timeframe.

This book is in the best traditions of our native American forebears (as well as other cultures with a long view), always promoting a feedback-decision loop that carefully considered the impact on the “seventh generation.” That’s 235 years or so, or more.

The author has done a superb job of drawing on the thinking of others (e.g. Freeman Dyson, Esther’s father) in considering the deep deep implications for mankind of thinking in time (a title popularized, brilliantly, by Ernest May and Richard Neustadt of Harvard), while adding his own integrative and expanding ideas.

He joints Lee Kuan Yew, brilliant and decades-long grand-father of Asian prosperity and cohesiveness, in focusing on culture and the long-term importance of culture as the glue for patience and sound long-term decision-making. His focus on the key principles of longevity, maintainability, transparency, evolvability, and scalability harken back to his early days as the editor of the Whole Earth Review (and Catalog) and one comes away from this book feeling that Stewart Brand is indeed the “first pilot” of Spaceship Earth.

It is not possible and would be inappropriate to try to summarize all the brilliant insights in this work. From the ideas of others to his own, from the “Responsibility Record” to using history as a foundation for dealing with rapid change, to the ideas for a millenium library to the experienced comments on how to use scenarios to reach consensus among conflicted parties as to mutual interests in the longer-term future, this is–the word cannot be overused in this case–an extraordinary book from an extraordinary mind.

This book is essential reading for every citizen-voter-taxpayer, and ends with an idea for holding politicians accountable for the impact of their decisions on the future. First class, world class. This is the book that sets the stage for the history of the future.

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Review: The Future of Ideas–The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World

5 Star, Civil Society, Consciousness & Social IQ, Democracy, Education (General), Future, Information Society

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5.0 out of 5 stars Public Warning of looting and Destruction of the E-Commons,

February 27, 2002
Lawrence Lessig
I struggled with this book, in part because I really dislike the manner in which the law has been complicated to the point of unreason–beyond the ken of normal people. Having concluded the book, however, I have to say this is really worth the effort. The author is laying bare the raw threats to the future of the electronic commons. He discusses in detail how very specific government policies to sell and control bandwidth, and very specific corporate legal claims being backed by “the people’s” lawyers within government, are essentially “fencing” the Internet commons and severely constraining both the rights of the people and the prospects for the future of ideas and innovation.I am not a lawyer and I cannot speak to the points of law, but I am a voter and I can speak to that; what is happening to the Internet through legal machinations that are largely invisible to the people is a travesty, a crime against humanity even if permissible by law, and perhaps grounds for a public uprising demanding the recall of any official that permits and perpetuates the theft of the commons by corporations and their lawyers.

In the aftermath of 9-11, when our secret national intelligence and counterintelligence capabilities failed us, there is a need for a restoration of the people’s intelligence in the aggregate as our first line of defense against enemies both foreign and domestic. I regard this book as a very serious, thoughtful, and well-intentioned “public intelligence estimate” and warning, of the harm to our security and prosperity that will ensue from a legal system that is now “out of control” and not being audited by the common sense of the people.

This book makes it clear that if the people are inert and inattentive, they will be enslaved, “virtually speaking.” If you thought Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky was scarcy, or Norman Cousins’ The Pathology of Power, then this book is for you.

Along with Internet standards acceptable to the people, we now appear to need a public advocacy group, funded by the people, to fight these corporate lawyers at every turn, whilst helping our less than stellar government lawyers cope….

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Review: Virtual Reality–The Revolutionary Technology of Computer-Generated Artificial Worlds – and How It Promises to Transform Society

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Change & Innovation, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Education (General), Future, Information Society, Information Technology

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5.0 out of 5 stars Sacred and Scary Reflections on Neo-Biologicial Civilization,

December 29, 2000
Howard Rheingold
First published in 1991, this is a gem that should be one of the first readings of anyone contemplated the sacred and the scary aspects of how humans, machines, and software are being changed by emerging information technologies. While there is a lot of focus on “cool tools” and all the paraphenalia of “virtual reality” qua artificial sensation and perception, the rock bottom foundation of this book can be found in Howard reflections on what it all means for the transformation of humans, business, and society in general.
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Review: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

5 Star, Change & Innovation, Culture, Research, Economics, Education (General), Education (Universities), Games, Models, & Simulations, History, Information Operations, Information Society, Intelligence (Commercial), Intelligence (Extra-Terrestrial), Intelligence (Government/Secret), Intelligence (Public), Strategy, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Enduring Classic on the Hard Truth about Changing Minds,

May 29, 2000
Thomas S. Kuhn
Two points are worthy of emphasis: 1) the paradigm shift is always forced and 2) until the paradigm shift occurs, always suddenly, the incumbents can comfortably explain everything with their existing paradigm. There will be many from the current “laissez faire” academics without accountability environment who would be critical of this book, but the fact is that it’s fundamentals are on target; as the sociology of knowledge has shown time and time again, “thinkers” are nepotistic, incestuous, and generally lazy, as well as mono-lingual and culturally-constrained, and it takes a major shock-wave to push any given intellectual domain up to the next plateau.
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Review: World Brain

5 Star, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Democracy, Economics, Education (General), Education (Universities), Future, History, Information Operations, Information Society, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Commercial), Intelligence (Extra-Terrestrial), Intelligence (Government/Secret), Intelligence (Public), Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Misinformation & Propaganda, Philosophy, Strategy

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5.0 out of 5 stars Updated Edition is Even Better,

May 29, 2000
H. G. Wells
First published in 1938, a modern edition is vastly improved by the addition of a critical introduction by Alan Mayne. Very much focused on how a world-brain might alter national policy-making, how Public Opinion or an “Open Conspiracy” might restore common sense and popular control to arenas previously reserved for an elite. The information functionality of the World Brain easily anticipated the world wide web as it might evolve over the next 20-30 years: comprehensive, up to date, distributed, classification scheme, dynamic, indexes, summaries and surveys, freely available and easily accessible. We have a long way to go, but the framework is there. The communication functions of the world brain would include a highly effective information retrieval system, selective dissemination of information, efficient communication facilities, effective presentation, popular education, public and individual awareness for all issues, and facilitate social networking between organizations, groups, and individuals. The world brain is the “virtual intelligence community” qua noosphere. This is one of the fundamental references for anyone thinking about the future of politics, economics, or social systems.
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Review: Consilience–the Unity of Knowledge

5 Star, Change & Innovation, Civil Society, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Education (General), Environment (Solutions), Information Operations, Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Science & Politics of Science, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
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5.0 out of 5 stars 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.

The Future of Life
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first Century Organization
Revolutionary Wealth: How it will be created and how it will change our lives
Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Power at the Edge of the 21st Century
Infinite Wealth: A New World of Collaboration and Abundance in the Knowledge Era
The Age of Missing Information
Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography
Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
Information Productivity: Assessing Information Management Costs of U. S. Corporations

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Review: Collective Intelligence–Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace

5 Star, Change & Innovation, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Education (General), Environment (Solutions), Information Society, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Public), Intelligence (Wealth of Networks)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Personal, Social, and Knowledge Space,

April 7, 2000
Pierre Levy
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.
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Review: Thinking in Time–The Uses of History for Decision-Makers

5 Star, Best Practices in Management, Consciousness & Social IQ, Education (General), History, Information Operations

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5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, Useful Guide to Presenting Intelligence to Policy,

April 7, 2000
Richard E. Neustadt
This book is an essential point of reference for understanding the analogies and other devices that decision makers use to evaluate information.The bottom line is both straight-forward and scary: policymakers see everything in terms of their own (usually limited and largely domestic) historical experiences, and they interpret what they are given by intelligence professionals in the context of their own personal perspectives.

This has several implications, and I regard this book as one of perhaps five that are long-term essential building blocks for the new craft of analytic tradecraft being devised by the CIA’s Kent Center and Jack Davis:

1) Intelligence is remedial education for policymakers. There is no getting around this. While the authors are much more diplomatic than I could ever be, the raw fact is that most policy makers are very loosely-educated and generally do not have a high-quality international affairs education or substantive experience dealing with foreign affairs or even national affairs. They are local lawyers, businessmen, “friends of the President,” etcetera.

2) Objective, internationalist intelligence will always be in conflict with subjective, domestic politics unless–and this is the other new theme just now emerging, years after the author’s published their work–there is a public intelligence community and the citizen-voters are receiving sufficiently compelling intelligence they can use to demand and vote for early and thoughtful action instead of in extremis reaction.

3) The book breaks new ground in establishing the importance of history, not only for drawing intelligence conclusions (understanding ethnic conflict, for example, is best done in the context of 200+ years of prior history), but for translating, converting, interpreting foreign events, threats, and opportunities in domestic historical terms that can be more easily absorbed by very busy policymakers.

I do not mean to suggest that the authors are condescending. Far from it. They take a very difficult and complex matter, that of speaking truth to power about foreign issues, and offer it up in a very sensible and understandable form.

The best of the students using this book for coursework will understand that it is a “keeper,” of lasting value as a future reference, worth returning to from year to year for a refresher on the value of history in both understanding and communicating.

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Review: Forbidden Knowledge–From Prometheus to Pornography

5 Star, Censorship & Denial of Access, Consciousness & Social IQ, Education (General), Information Society

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5.0 out of 5 stars From Scary to Sacred to Secret–Essential Insights,

April 7, 2000
Roger Shattuck
Beyond the mundane discussions about secrecy versus openness, or privacy versus transparency, there is a much higher level of discussion, one about the nature, limits, and morality of knowledge. As I read this book, originally obtained to put secrecy into perspective, I suddenly grasped and appreciated two of the author’s central thoughts: knowing too much too fast can be dangerous; and yes, there are things we should not know or be exposed to. Who decides? Or How do we the people decide? are questions that must be factored into any national knowledge policy or any national information strategy. This book left me with a sense of both the sacred and the scary sides of unfettered knowledge. This is less about morality and more about focus, intention, and social outcomes. It is about the convergence of power, knowledge, and love to achieve an enlightened intelligence network of self-governing moral people who are able to defend themselves against evil knowledge and prosper by sharing good knowledge.
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Review: Powershift–Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century

5 Star, Best Practices in Management, Complexity & Resilience, Culture, Research, Economics, Education (General), Information Operations, Information Society, Intelligence (Public), Intelligence (Wealth of Networks)

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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Five Really Core Books on Information Age,

April 7, 2000
Alvin Toffler
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.
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