Wednesday, May 01, 2002

This weekend, I finished off two books that I've been reading over the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That's what I've been doing as of late: reading on the sofa with the hockey game on, wincing each time a fight breaks out.

Round One Stanley Cup Playoff Books:

Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brain, Cities, and Software
Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World
(mental note: add 'connected' to on-going Forbidden Words 2003 list)

Winner: Future of Ideas, 4 games to 2

I really wanted to love Emergence with its promise to tie together the brown paper packages of biology, cities and software - three of my favourite subjects - with the string of 'emergent properties'. But I guess that it should have been no surprise that a book that strives to be so wide in scope would be so thin in substance. A great cross-disciplinary overview of the idea of 'emergent properties' but a little bit on the breathlessly optimistic side for my liking. I'd recommend reading Out of Control, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and um, something about Open Source instead.

Now I was really impressed by the Future of Ideas. This is book is dense with concepts, history, and law and but the ideas are carefully presented so as not to cause overload. The book presents the argument that "the forces that the original Internet threatened to transform are well on their way to transforming the Intenet". This book covers copyright legislation, media ownership, cultural production, spectrum allocation, intellectual property, patent law and network protocols and in spite of these dry topics and despite being downright pessimistic about the future of our beloved Internet, its a facinating read.

Round Two, Stanley Cup Playoff Books:

Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Sucidal Consumer Binge - And Why We Must
Toxic Sludge Is Good For You! Lies, Damned Lies and the Public Relations Industry

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