Review: Biomimicry–Innovation Inspired by Nature

5 Star, Environment (Solutions), Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean)

BIomimicryBook End for Zero Waste, Brilliant Introduction, September 23, 2008

Janine M. Benyus

I was introduced to this concept at BIONEERS, an annual event with satellite nodes convenient to all, and was just blown away. This book is a superb introduction to the common sense recognition that nature has over all the billions of years, figured out how to not only do stuff with energy efficiency, but also with a zero waste footprint.

Check out World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility (WISER) for many other leads.

Other books that I recommend outside the standard ones that Amazon points to:
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
The Age of Missing Information
In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations
Getting to Zero Waste
High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health
High Noon: Twenty Global Problems, Twenty Years to Solve Them
The Future of Life

Review: Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling (Princeton Studies in Complexity)

5 Star, Complexity & Catastrophe, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Priorities, Survival & Sustainment, Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean)

GenerativeInstead of Can You Explain It, Can You Build It?, May 31, 2008

Joshua M. Epstein

Sometimes I encounter books that are extremely important, that give me an appreciation for a knowledge domain I do not know enough about, and that I simply cannot read and review in the traditional sense. However, having invested good money and time in the book, if I admire I book, I generally seek to use my broad reading as a base for putting the book in an appreciative context with useful links for other readers.

This book, and Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life (Princeton Studies in Complexity) are two such books. This one starts with:

“instead of explaining it, can you grow it?”

Howard Bloom, in Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century teaches us that the only way to create a sustainable peace in the Palestine region is to provide absolute security for an entire generation, and raise two whole generations, one on each side, from kindergarten on us, generations that do not consider “the other” to be “pigs and monkeys” by the age of five.

Similarly, the literature on wealth of networks and the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid is growing, and I am convinced that public intelligence (decision support, full disclosure, end of information asymmetries) is going to accomplish two things in the next twenty years:

1) Eradicate corruption and enforce the triple-bottom line

2) Elevate five billion poor by teaching them one cell call at a time so that they can create infinite stabilizing wealth.

See for example:
Infinite Wealth: A New World of Collaboration and Abundance in the Knowledge Era
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
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)

So the very best thing I can say about this book is that I am glad I bought it, I am very glad to have a sense, however weak, of this important exploratory area, and now I know that I need a team of generative social scientists that can do complex modeling for peace and prosperity solutions.

See also, just published at Amazon and free online at Earth Intelligence Network, Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

I urge one and all to become familiar with World Index of Social and Environmental Responsibility (WISER), as best I can tell that is the center of gravity for empowering individuals with deep knowledge of the true costs and many human rights abuses and other crimes that we support today for lack of knowledge. I also recommend the pioneering EarthGame work of Medard Gabel, at BigPictureSmallWorld.

Eventually I see the USA Waging Peace, with a Multinational Decision Support Center providing unclassified intelligence to all actors on the world stage, and publishing an annual and constantly updated Global Range of Gifts Table to connect the billion rich with the five billion poor at the $1-$100 level.

In commenting on this book, I am primarily seeking to point readers toward other books on the substance of peace and prosperity and our many ills. If you are technically inclined, this is a very top work that also inspires the lay reader who “does not do math.”

Review: The Great Turning–From Empire to Earth Community

6 Star Top 10%, Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Censorship & Denial of Access, Change & Innovation, Complexity & Catastrophe, Complexity & Resilience, Congress (Failure, Reform), Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Democracy, Economics, Education (General), Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Environment (Problems), Environment (Solutions), Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), History, Information Society, Justice (Failure, Reform), Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, Religion & Politics of Religion, Science & Politics of Science, Security (Including Immigration), Stabilization & Reconstruction, Survival & Sustainment, Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean), True Cost & Toxicity, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity

Great TurningPeople are the new super power–local resilience, global community,

January 28, 2007

David C Korten

I have mixed feelings about this book. It is unquestionably a five-star work of reflection, integration, and focused moral intent. On the other hand, while it introduced a broad “earth-friendly” literature that I was *not* familiar with, it does not “see” a much broader literature that I have absorbed, and so I want to do two things with this review: feature the highlights from this book, and list a number of other works that support and expand on the author’s reflections for the greater good of us all.

Early highlights include the continued relevance of Dennis Kucinich and the emerging value of the Case Foundation and Revolution Health as funded by Steve Case, founder of AOL. The author posits early on the choice we have been a great unraveling and a great turning. He describes all our institutions as failing at the same time that we have unlimited potential. He concludes, as have many others, that centralized authority is not working, and suggests that we must confront that which does not work and devise new constructive alternatives (“for every no there must be a yes”).

In the middle of the book he describes the five levels of consciousness as magical, imperial, socialized, cultural, and spirirtual. I would have put socialized ahead of imperial, since the industrial era used schools to socialize us into both factory workers and conscripts for the armed forces. He concludes this section with a commentary on moral autism, which of course reminds us of nakedly amoral Dick Cheney.

The author moves toward a conclusion by pointing out that people are the new super-power, with the Internet and its many new features as the foundation for bringing people together and making people power effective.

A large portion of the middle section is a historical review of America, with its genocidal, slavery, and unilateral militant interventionist nature, and its extreme inequality now, which the literature on revolution clearly identifies (the latter, concentration of wealth) as a precurser to almost inevitable violent revolution).

The book ends with four strategic elements:

1) Awakening of cultural and spiritual consciousness
2) Resistance of the imperial empire’s assault on children, families, communities, and nature
3) Form and connect communities of convergence
4) Build a majoritarian political base.

In parting notes he points out that the status of our children is the key indicator of our future, and that today one out of every two children is born into and lives into poverty (one reason why the High Level Threat Panel put poverty above infectuous disease and environmental degradation).

He ends by calling for local living economies at a human scale.

If you have the time to only read one book within the broad literatures of imagination, corporateism, and constructive prospects for the planet, this is probably that book. Below I want to a list quite a few that support this author’s thesis, and for which I have provided a summative as well as an evaluative review within these Amazon pages:

The Corporation
WALMART-HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE (DVD/FF/FR-SP-SUB)
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions
Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids
Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
War Is a Racket: The Anti-War Classic by America’s Most Decorated General, Two Other Anti=Interventionist Tracts, and Photographs from the Horror of It
The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency

See also:
Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’
“The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past”
Imagine: What America Could Be in the 21st Century
The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today’s Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems
Deep Economy

There are many more should you wish to explore via my categorized lists, but the above both lend great credence to the author of this single book, and expand considerably on the reflections that he has distilled into this one book.

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Review: The Change Handbook–The Definitive Resource on Today’s Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems

5 Star, Best Practices in Management, Change & Innovation, Civil Society, Complexity & Resilience, Democracy, Education (General), Environment (Solutions), Information Society, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Commercial), Intelligence (Public), Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Philosophy, Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean), Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution

Change HandbookUtterly Phenomenal: *The* Book for Living Life to the Fullest,

January 27, 2007

Peggy Holman

EDIT of 9 Feb 09 to add links (capability not available at the time) and to commit to attending NEXUS II in Bowling Green, OH 30 Mar – 1 Apr 08.

I could spend the rest of my life trying to learn, use, and share each of the methods in this book, and never finish. When it was first published in 1999, it was before its time. Now, in 2006, this is a book made for our times, when Burning Man is now Green Man, Al Gore is a rock star, and even the greediest Wall Street CEO is starting to realize the party is over and we have to get real, real fast.

I have been an admirer of Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) and a champion of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), and have gradually learned about other “opens” that are coming to the fore: Open Spectrum, Open Access, Open Culture, Open Innovation, and of course George Soros’ Open Society. From this book I now add Open Circle, to complement the Open Space concept I learned recently in Seattle’s Town Hall while listening to Paul Hawken talk about the World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility.

I have to confess that this book is over-whelming, and I can barely scratch the surface. This is more of a book where you should read one author, one segment, each night, and fall asleep thinking about how to implement that one small section, how to embrace someone else and engage them with that one method.

Having three teen-agers, all three of whom have completely rejected the prison/child care format and the rote learning objectives of the current school system (even as good as it is in Fairfax County) I will go so far as to say that this book, combined with serious games/games for change, is a complete one-to-one substitute for our current educational process.

Everything in here is what we *should* have learned in school, what we *should* be practicing in fulfilling our civic duty (what we *actually* do is described in “The Cheating Culture,” “Confessional of an Economic Hit-Man,” and “Rogue Nation”).

I am moving quickly and heavily into the intersection of Collective Intelligence (see my reviews of “The Tao of Democracy,” “Smart Mobs,” “Wisdom of the Crowds,” or my longer list; and Natural Capitalism with its “true cost” meme. See my reviews of Paul Hawken et al, “Ecology of Commerce” and “Natural Capitalism,” of the varied books by Herman Daly, and soon, my reviews of “The Great Turning,” the “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and others. For a broader sense of the possibilities, check out “Earth Intelligence Network” online.

I still have the 1970’s operating manual for spaceship earth someplace in my lower library. This book is the manual for spaceship earth for our children and those of us recommiting ourselves to the joy of learning and changing in our later years. It’s not over until *we* decide its over.

See these other books that have also inspired me and given me hope:
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
Society’s Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
Escaping the Matrix: How We the People can change the world
One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization
All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (BK Currents)
The Average American: The Extraordinary Search for the Nation’s Most Ordinary Citizen
Running On Empty: How The Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy

My lists are also a fast path to collections covering the ten threats, twelve policies, eight challengers, and various other aspects of saving humanity and the Earth from outselves.

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Review: New World New Mind–Moving Toward Conscious Evolution

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Best Practices in Management, Change & Innovation, Civil Society, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Democracy, Education (General), Education (Universities), Environment (Solutions), Future, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Public), Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Philosophy, Priorities, Survival & Sustainment, Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean), Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity

5.0 out of 5 stars From 1989, Not Updated, Superb Never-the-Less

April 28, 2005

Robert E. Ornstein, Paul Ehrlich

EDIT 20 Dec 07 to add links.

This superb book was published in 1989 and is being reissued, and I am very glad it has come out again. I bought it because it was recommended by Tom Atlee, seer of the Co-Intelligence Institute, and I found it very worthwhile.

As I reflect on the book, I appreciate two key points from the book:

1) The evolution of our brains and our ability to sense cataclysmic change that takes place over long periods of time is simply not going fast enough–the only thing that can make a difference is accelerated cultural evolution, which I find quite fascinating, because cultural evolution as the authors describe it harkens to noosphere, World Brain, co-intelligence, and what the Swedes are calling M4 IS: multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary, multidomain information sharing–what I think of as Open Source Intelligence–personal, public, & political.

2) One of the more compelling points the authors make is that not only are politicians being elected and rewarded on the basis of short-term decisions that are by many measures intellectually, morally, and financially corrupt, but the so-called knowledge workers–the scientists, engineers, and others who should be “blowing the whistle,” are so specialized that there is a real lack of integrative knowledge. I realized toward the end of the book, page 248 exactly, that Knowledge Integration & Information Sharing must become the new norm.

This is a tremendous book that is loaded with gems of insight. I have it heavily marked up. Although it integrates and reminds me of ideas ably explored in other books, such as Health of Nations, Cultural Creatives, Clock of the Long Now, ATTENTION, Limits to Growth, and Forbidden Knowledge, these two authors have integrated their “brief” in a very readable way–as one person says on the book jacket, they effectively weave together many strands of knowledge.

The annotated bibliography is quite good, and causes me to be disappointed that the publishers did not provide for the updating of the bibliography–the ideas being blended are timeless and need no update.

Two notes toward the end were quite interesting. They speculate that Japan may be the first modern nation to collapse, if it is subject to disruption of the global trade and transportation system. They also have high praise for Global 2000, an integrative work whose predictions for the 2000 period (written in the 1970’s, I believe) are turning out to be quite accurate.

Finally, woven throughout the book, is the simple fact that we are now burning up our savings–consuming the Earth at a much faster rate than it can replenish itself. We are very much out of harmony with our sustaining environment, and at grave risk of self-destruction. Interestingly, they remind of the Durants last word in “The Lessons of History:” that the only revolution, the only sustainable revolution, is that which takes place in the human mind. As these authors would have it, if we do not develop a new collective mind capable of integrating, understanding, and acting sensible, for the long term, on what we can know as a collective mind, then our grandchildren will become prey for the cockroaches of the future.

At a time when the new Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Ambassador Negroponte, is seriously contemplating the establishment of a national Open Source (Information) Agency as recommended by the 9-11 Commission, to get a grip on all the historical and current knowledge, both scientific and social, that we have lost touch with, I can think of just three books I would recommend to the DNI as a foundation for his reflections: this one, Buckman’s “Creating a Knowledge Driven Organization,” and Wheatley’s “Leadership and the New Science.” I would end his tutorial, or perhaps inspire it, by screening Tom Atlee’s video, “From Group Magic to a Wise Democracy.”

Strangely, for I tend to be very gloomy about our prospects these days, I find that this book has cheered me somewhat. I sense the possibility of a break-out through a combination of wise information acquisition and sharing policies, and the application of the new technologies that L-3, CISCO, and IBM, among others, are bringing out, technologies that put intelligence on the edge of the network, and permit the creation of infinitely scalable and shareable synthetic information exactly suited to any need at any level.

There *is* an answer to all that ails us, and these two authors discuss it in a very capable manner.

See also, with reviews:

Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World
Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
World brain
Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World
The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter
THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest

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Review: Out of Control–The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World

5 Star, Change & Innovation, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Economics, Environment (Solutions), Information Operations, Information Society, Information Technology, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Commercial), Intelligence (Extra-Terrestrial), Intelligence (Government/Secret), Intelligence (Public), Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean), Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution

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5.0 out of 5 stars Co-Evolution of Man and Machine,

April 17, 2000
Kevin Kelly
Kevin 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.
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Review: Keeping Abreast of Science and Technology: Technical Intelligence for Business

5 Star, Best Practices in Management, Change & Innovation, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Education (Universities), Environment (Solutions), Games, Models, & Simulations, Information Operations, Intelligence (Commercial), Science & Politics of Science, Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean)
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on the market for technical business intelligence
April 8, 2000

W. Bradford Ashton (Editor), Richard A. Klavans (Editor)

Dick is a genius, and he and Bradford Ashton have pulled together a number of very fine contributions in this book. Still, they sum it up nicely in the concluding chapter: “The formal practice of developing technical intelligence in American business is only in its infancy.” They have a nice appendix of sources on scientific and technical intelligence that is missing a few big obvious sources like the Canadian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI) and the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) as well as the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) and several smaller sources. On balance, this technical intelligence community is, as Bradford notes, in its infancy. It is U.S. centric, does not yet understand operational security and counterintelligence, is weak of cost intelligence, relies too heavily on registered patents, and has too few practical successes stories. Especially troubling is the recent trend within DIA and the Air Force of cutting off all funding for open source exploitation of Chinese and other foreign S&T sources, combined with a dismantling by many corporations of their libraries and most basic market research functions. This book is an essential reference and I admire its authors greatly-sadly, they are part of a small minority that has not yet found its full voice.

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THE DOLLAR HAS NO INTRINSIC VALUE : DO YOUR ASSETS?