Review (Guest): Digitally Enabled Social Change – Activism in the Internet Age

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Jennifer Earl and Katrina Kimport

5.0 out of 5.0 Stars Paradigm-challenging

By Bruce B on September 19, 2011

Earl & Kimport take on what I like to think of as the silent debate between scholars of digital media and collective action on the one hand, and many traditional experts on social movements, protest, interest groups, and political mobilization on the other. The traditional view encompasses the concession that collective action can happen quickly now because of digital media; but that view has been, frankly, rather skeptical that anything important is happening. Or at least that digital media are really central to those visibly important developments that do occur in the present era.

Earl & Kimport throw down a serious challenge, by arguing that there is more going on than decreased costs and speed in the world of protest and social movements: resource accumulation is not a pre-requisite, organization-building is not necessary, co-presence is not necessary, and neither is a strongly shared collective identity. They are interested in what this means theoretically.

A key part of their argument is that digital media make costs a variable, whereas costs were previously understood as a fixed requirement of social movements. When costs are variable, then so are things that depend on costs, such as organization.

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Apr 19

Worth a Look: Creating a Sustainable and Desireable Future

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Creating a Sustainable and Desirable Future : Insights from 45 Global Thought Leaders

Robert Costanza, Ida Kubiszewski (eds)

The major challenge for the current generation of mankind is to develop a shared vision of a future that is both desirable to the vast majority of humanity and ecologically sustainable. Creating a Sustainable and Desirable Future offers a broad, critical discussion on what such a future should or can be, with global perspectives written by some of the world’s leading thinkers, including: Wendell Berry, Van Jones, Frances Moore Lappe, Peggy Liu, Hunter Lovins, Gus Speth, Bill McKibben, and many more.

Sample Chapter(s)
Chapter 1: Why We Need Visions of a Sustainable and Desirable World (51 KB)

Contents:

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Apr 18

Review (Guest): Dynamics Among Nations – The Evolution of Legitimacy and Development in Modern States

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Hilton Root

5.0 out of 5.0 Stars Complexity thinking that shifts the paradigms of international relations

By J. P. Massing on December 5, 2013

In ‘Dynamics Among Nations’, Professor Hilton Root convincingly challenges the propositions of the liberal international consensus and re-frames the prevailing conceptualisation of development by introducing complexity thinking to the fields of political economy and international relations.

I highly recommend this intellectually stimulating and excellently written book to decision makers, researchers and students – as well as to anyone who is interested in gaining an advanced and well-informed understanding of the complex realities of development and global policy.

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Apr 14

Review: Secrets and Leaks – The Dilemma of State Secrecy

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Rahul Sagar

5.0 out of 5 stars Highlights from Steven Aftergood’s Review at Lawfare, April 9, 2014

I tried to prevail on Steven Aftergood to repost his rave review at Lawfare here but for various reasons that was not possible. I’ve looked at this book but Steven is vastly superior to me in his contextual appraisal so below I offer both a fast means of finding Stevens review and three highlights in Steven’s words, with some additional Amazon links and my own conclusions based on 40 years as an intelligence professional and 20 years as a proponent for intelligence reform.

Find the full review online by searching for three words together not in quotes: Lawfare Aftergood Sagar

Three Highlights:

QUOTE: Sagar makes a fresh, original and provocative contribution to the field. Our problems with secrecy, he says, are not simply attributable to official venality or mismanagement (or to the Espionage Act or the Manhattan Project) but instead are rooted in our constitutional structure. And leaks of classified information are not necessarily a lamentable deviation from good government but are — within certain limits — an essential safeguard that should be defended and encouraged.

QUOTE: Only leaks, he argues, have the potential to overcome the otherwise unresolved tensions over disclosure of national security information that are the legacy of our constitutional design.

QUOTE: In the end, following a detailed and critically nuanced discussion, Sagar concludes that leakers can be morally justified in making an unauthorized disclosure of classified information in violation of the law if the disclosure meets the following five conditions:

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Apr 9

Review (Guest): Choose Yourself!

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James Altucher

5.0 out of 5 starsSomething for Everyone

By Jonathan M. Prober on June 3, 2013

I was fortunate enough to read this wonderful new book by the author James Altucher (I first read his work by following him on twitter @jaltucher and reading posts on his website jamesaltucher.com).

It is one of the most enjoyable and informative books I’ve ever read, and I highly recommend folks take some time to check it out. It’s not that long but, wow, is it packed with powerfully-good information.

I could write about it for a while but, rather than doing so, it is probably more efficient to just mention a few of my favorite tidbits from the book in hopes that you’ll give it a read.

My personal favorite aspect of the book is its unique ability to be both practical and idealistic.

Some quick examples:

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Apr 8

Review (Guest): From Conflict to Creative Collaboration

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Rosa Zubizarreta

5 out of 5 stars. Really impressive – an unconventional topic, described clearly, remarkably

By Tom Atlee on March 31, 2014

Dynamic Facilitation generates a remarkably effective creative group process whose nonlinearity makes it seem very peculiar indeed.

This unusual facilitation approach – often dubbed “DF” – is built around a few deceptively simple practices like fully hearing each person, reframing conflicts as concerns, being truly open to every perspective and to the range of human emotions, and always inviting the best solutions from each and every person. I say “deceptively simple” because – like the deceptive simplicity of “following your breath” while meditating – the power of these practices comes from their persistent and courageous application. So it’s good to have a skilled Dynamic Facilitator around.

When these practices ARE applied persistently and courageously – and with empathy and faith – they produce the miracles for which Dynamic Facilitation is becoming increasingly valued. These practices transform difficult and conflicted people into creative collaborators, and thorny resistant problems and disputes into breakthrough insights and effective new directions.

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Mar 31

Review: Other Inconvenient Truths Beyond Global Warming

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Alan F. Rozich

5.0 out of 5 stars HUGELY Valuable Book with Color Photographs, Embedded Yellow Highlights, March 16, 2014

This is one of the most useful, most intelligent, best presented and most timely books I have ever held in my hands. I am astonished by the affordable price in relation to both the substance and the cosmetics of the book. This is a focused holistic book that is a joy to read — easy to read — and it offers the single best text I have found for both graduate and undergraduate reading, and book clubs as well as government employees struggling to understand the lies and mis-representations of those seeking to avoid or undermine regulatory oversight.

The print size and use of white space is complemented by something I have never seen in a mass market paperback, full color photographs, full color diagrams, and the selective use of yellow highlighting embedded across the book.

This is a book steeped in integral consciousness, with a clear understanding and articulation of the fact that global warming is a symptom, not a root cause, and that global warming is but one of multiple inconvenient truth, all of which much be understood as a whole.

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Mar 16

Review: The Hard Thing About Hard Things

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Ben Horowitz

5.0 out of 5 stars ABSORBING – Requires Open Mind, March 16, 2014

I generally read all the reviews before writing my own, in part to see if anyone has already covered the ground the way I like to, with a summary evaluative review. There are only two reviews before mine that I consider world-class, please do read them if you have the time. I refer to the reviews by Mercenary Trader and Scott S. Bell, I salute both of them for providing substance useful to all.

This is not a comprehensive book in that it is a very personal perspective, brings together many specific snapshots, but never addresses “root” in relation to how the team went from great idea to source code to buzz to market share. As I read the book I thought often about a book I read in the 1980′s, still a classic, Tracey Kidder’s The Soul of A New Machine.

I would say this book is an absolutly priceless gem for the “hard knocks” at the CEO level perspective, and should be combined with any of several alternatives on start-ups such as Matt Blumberg’s Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business, + Website, and, forthcoming, Peter Thiel of PayPal’s Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.

I’ve built two companies, both failures in that I never made the leap from one man with an obession to a movement (OSS.Net, Inc. and Earth Intelligence Network, a 501c3) and what I did not see in this book, or any other book I have found, is the roadmap for getting from a big idea to big marketshare. That book remains to be written, and it could be that it should be written by Marc Andressen and a team. Jim Clark’s Netscape Time: The Making of the Billion-Dollar Start-Up That Took on Microsoft is a fine but dated (1999) start but we need something now tailored to the Internet of Things (what everyone else is thinking about) and free individual access to and ability to leverage all information in all languages all the time (what I have been thinking about since 1986 — visit Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog to learn more). I am also reminded of Michael Lewis’s The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story.

All this by way of saying that you have no business reading or buying this book if you are expecting a holistic 360 degree soup to nuts outline of how to zero to Mach 2. The greatest value of this book for me was in learning that it is possible to keep flying when you lose power and both wings fall off at the same time.

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Mar 16

Review (DVD): THRIVE

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Foster and Kimberly Gamble

5.0 out of 5 stars Free Online and Worth Buying to Support the Endeavor, March 14, 2014

This is a riveting movie with phenomenal visuals. I’d rather it had been an hour long instead of two, but in the spirit of slow food and slow Internet, certainly worth two hours of your time as an inspiration to change how you live for the rest of your life.

The movie is a personal contribution of Foster Gamble of the Proctor & Gamble family, but he grew a soul starting in elementary school and by the time he finished at Princeton, he was on his way to being a full-blown radical thinker with libertarian tendencies.

The first third of the movie is focused on free energy and all the pioneers from Telsa to Trombly to Bedeini to Hutchinson to Mallove who created proven sources of free energy only to suffer raids from the FBI (we do not make this stuff up) and other abuses including in some cases the torching of their labs and murder. I am hugely impressed by this portion of the movie, which includes short interviews, and I strongly recommend the movie for this part alone if you lack patience for what follows.

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Mar 14

Review: Cool Tools – A Catalog of Possibilities

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5.0 out of 5 stars An Education, Bank, and Theater All In One — This is NOT a “Coffee Table” Book, March 14, 2014

I received this book as a gift from the author — we go back many years, and I was glad to review one of his earlier books,Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World, later also reviewing New Rules for the New Economy.

Talking with Kevin after I received and went through the book, I learned that it is being described as a “coffee table” book in some circles. Let’s kill that idea right away. This is NOT a coffee table book! Coffee table books in my own mind are slick superficial collections of photos with big print, meant to keep people occupied for a few minutes while they wait for their appointment.

This book is an education. Yes, it is a successor to the Whole Earth Catalog and a logical follow-on to that catalog and the Whole Earth Review’s tools section, but on top of that is the existing modern website kk.org/coooltools/. It is not just about “tools.” More or less the Whole Earth is covered in this book, with treehouses being one of my favorities (also underground houses). It covers books, methods, gardens, communications, design, places, and the family.

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Mar 14