Review: Seven Complex Lessons for the Future


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Edgar Morin

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star Spectacular,July 12, 2012

This is one of a handful of books I will not donate to the library as has been my custom. I first learned of this author through his work Homeland Earth : A Manifesto for the New Millennium (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity and the Human Sciences). I was hugely drawn into the author’s brilliant web of thinking, and delighted to learn that he is still alive and active in France.

This book can serve in so many ways. For myself, it is an independent confirmation of all that I have been exploring through the minds of others–the 1,800 plus authors whose works I have reviewed here at Amazon. It is a spectacular indictment of the existing educational, intelligence, and research systems that have become so fragmented and wasteful as to be an impediment to progress.

Since Look Inside the Book is not available, I will just list the main chapter heading–each chapter has three sub-chapters. This is an elegant cathedral of a book, the equivalent for the author’s huge body of work that Will and Ariel Durant’s Lessons of History 1ST Edition was for their own multi volume The Story of Civilization (11 Volume Set).

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Jul 12

Review (Guest): The Open Source Everything Manifesto – Transparency, Truth & Trust


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Robert David Steele

5.0 out of 5 stars PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN!,June 24, 2012

B. Tweed DeLions “B.T.”

If there’s a single Founding Father of the Open Source movement, Robert D. Steele is it. Everyone else has been playing catchup. And if you don’t know what the Open Source revolution is, you need to read this book. You don’t even need to know why! You need to buy it, read it, and then you’ll *know* why. No other book on Open Source can open your eyes the way this one can. That’s because there’s no potential use of Open Source intelligence that Steele hasn’t anticipated. Collective Intelligence is coming! It’s an unstoppable force. And it will change everything. So if you like to know about things like that in advance, you need to buy this book.

The information age that was created by personal computers was just a kiddie car with a squeaky horn. By comparison, the open source revolution is a freight train. Its potential to change your world is orders of magnitude greater. This is not hyperbole. In fact superlatives can’t begin to express the ground-shaking potential of this next wave of human evolution.

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Jun 24

Review: How People Harness Their Collective Wisdom and Power to Construct the Future

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Alexander Christakis, Kenneth Bausch

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 for Original, 4 For Density, October 25, 2011

The primary author of this book was closely associated with Dr. Jan Warfield, one of the giants of reflexive practice and cybernetic coherence, along with Dr. Russell Ackoff, and that alone makes this book a special read for me.

Warfield never got the recognition he merited, and George Mason University blew a decade long lead in this area, and today they are still failing to create the integrative and pro-active inter-disciplinary programs that reflect the the wisdom of Buckminster Fuller, Jan Warfield, and Russell Ackoff, among others. I know from personal experience that GMU refused to consider the World Brain Institute and EarthGame, both of which would have made them unique in the world, so I can appreciate to a personal degree how lonely Jan Warfield must have felt there.

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Oct 25

Review: Big Man on Campus – A University President Speaks Out on Higher Education

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Stephen Joel Trachtenberg

5.0 out of 5 stars 2008 Sequel to 2006 Reflections,August 27, 2011

Dr. Trachtenberg is a very active but post-presidential presence at George Washington University and in global educational circles. I first read Reflections on Higher Education. Completely different from that first book, which was a well-edited compilation of non-replicative speeches and articles, this book follows his departure from the long-held position as President of George Washington University, and provides seventeen chapters. Uses “Inside the Book” feature to see those in detail.

Along with these two books I recommend at a minimum four others I have also reviewed:

The Uses of the University: Fifth Edition (Godkin Lectures on the Essentials of Free Government and the)
Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education
The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education (Wiley Desktop Editions)

and also a number of books that have the common theme of reinventing education, such as

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Aug 27

Worth a Look: Books on Reinventing Education Updated July 2012

Phi Beta Iota:  There are other books but these are the ones that have caught our attention.

Now You See It, by Cathy N. Davidson

A New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown

21st Century Skills by James Bellanca and Ron Brandt

Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education David N. Perkins

Reinventing Higher Education: The Promise of Innovation by Ben Wildavsky, Andrew Kelly, Kevin Carey

Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology by Allan Collins and Richard Halverson

Teaching Digital Natives by Marc Prensky

The Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education: 7 Steps for Schools and Districts by Ken Kay and Valerie Greenhill

The Innovative University by Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring

The Open Source Everything Manifesto by Robert Steele

The Seven Futures of American Education: Improving Learning & Teaching in a Screen-Captured World by John Sener

The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education by Curtis J. Bonk

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Aug 14

Review: Reflections on Higher Education

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Stephen Joel Trachtenberg

5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant Today–Perhaps Still Not Appreciated Today, August 10, 2011

There is nothing in this book that I could disagree with, which instantly marks it as iconoclastic rather than traditional or elitist. This long-serving president spent close to three decades managing two universities, the longest The George Washington University which can legitimately lay claim to being intended by Founding Father George Washington to be a “national” university.

Prior books against which I compare this one include

- The Uses of the University by Clark Kerr
- Universities in the Marketplace by Derek Bok

The book consists of three parts that meld 11 speeches and 2 articles from the 1998-2001 timeframe. This particular book was distributed by the GW Board of Trustees to parents of the incoming GW Class of 2006.

QUOTE (19): “The entire planet is in the process of turning itself into an educational institution, the faculty of which consists of the entire human species.”

QUOTE (21): “The problem boils down to this: How do you get the *universe* of all things into the classroom?”
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Aug 10

Review: A Democratic Approach to Sustainable Futures — A Workbook for Addressing the Global Problematique

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Thomas R. Flannagan, Kenneth C. Bausch

5.0 out of 5 stars 2011 Workbook 49 Problems, 10 Clusters, & Software,July 22, 2011
This is a very reasonably priced workbook that can also be purchased in bulk (presumably at the standard 50% discount) from the publisher, and I certainly do recommend it as a toolkit for any level–undergraduate to postgraduate to professional–discussion about how to apply holistic analytics to complex problem sets.I rate it as a five for its intended purpose, but absent references to other critical supplements that I link to below, it is a four by which I mean it cannot comprise the sole text for teaching. As an endeavor in systemic thinking and a new tool for teaching systemic thinking, it is a six.Although I am generally hostile to software as a panacea that obscures more than it illuminates (especially if the assumptions buried in the code are flawed), I give the authors the benefit of the doubt, and would seek to integrate their endeavor with those of Medard Gabel, the State of the Future project, and other emerging efforts to create functional hybrid networked governance systems.Ambassador John McDonald provides the foreword, and I pull two quotes from him:QUOTE (vii): The theories are not particularly useful to develop predictive models.

QUOTE (viii): This is the book to prepare for the messy multi-layered, multi-faceted, personal, political real world of applied activism.

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Jul 22

Review (Guest): The Ultimate Resource 2


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Julian Lincoln Simon

5.0 out of 5 stars The doomslayer falls,April 4, 1998

By A Customer

On Sunday, February 8th, psychologist and economist Julian L. Simon succumbed to a heart attack in Maryland. It is difficult to overstate the damage his death will cause the world debate on overpopulation, natural resources, and the environment. Dr. Simon’s prolific and energetic mind gave rise to fourteen books and countless papers and lectures, dedicated to overthrowing the dogma that underlies so much of today’s environmental discourse.

Simon, still considered a maverick after thirty years of relentless data-gathering, impeccable empirical work, and well-thought out conclusions, questioned the unquestionable. He maintained that the earth is in good shape by every conceivable measure, and that the environmental situation continues to improve each year. Every index of human happiness – food prices, net income, infant mortality, life expectancy, disease rates – has steadily improved. He documented those claims with reams of data, culminating in his 1996 tour de force The State of Humanity. It is absolutely comprehensive, and contains enough obscure data to make the most jaded Trivial Pursuit fan squirm (if you ever want to read about the average lower-class Brazilian’s annual starch intake, look no further).

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Jul 15

Review: The World Sensorium — The Social Embryology of World Federation 1946


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Oliver L. Reiser

5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem–Easy to Read, A Foundation Book for World Brain and Global Game, May 22, 2011
I bought this book on a whim, sensing that despite its 1946 publication date it might be inspirational and I have been *very* glad to go through this. It was a half-century ahead of its time. This book, which does cite H.G. Wells and World Brain (Adamantine Classics for the 21st Century), is a wonderful core reading for any age including high school but certainly going all the way to PhD programs. I consider it a SUPERB start to any semester of dialog in this domain.

Quick overview and appreciation by the chapter:

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May 22

Review: Reality Is Broken–Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World


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Jane McGonigal

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star for Concept–Ignores Past Pioneers–Energizes Us All

February 28, 2011

I took the time to read all of the reviews to date, and was reminded again of the chasm between those who understand technology and its possibilities, and those who do not. Being among the latter, in part because I am a veteran of 30 years of watching the US Government waste trillions over that period on too much badly designed technology (government specifications, cost plus) for the wrong reasons and generally without a positive outcome [the Internet being an exception], I must respect–as the author respects with her obviously counter-ripostive editorial interview here at Amazon–both the importance of getting a grip on reality, and the importance of being more respectful of past pioneers, such Buckminster Fuller (RIP) and Medard Gabel (co-creator with Fuller of the analog World Game, creator of the architecture for the digital EarthGame(TM), and recent contributing editor to Designing a World That Works for All: How the Youth of the World are Creating Real-World Solutions for the UN Millenium Development Goals and Beyond (Volume 1), and Russell Ackoff [e.g. Redesigning Society (Stanford Business Books) as well as John N. Warfield [e.g Societal Systems: Planning, Policy and Complexity (Wiley Series on Systems Engineering & Analysis). And then there are the 55 authors in Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace, including Ms. Jan Watkins, Doug Englebart, Mark Tovey. In short, the WORST thing one can say about this book is that the author has had an immaculate conception to her great credit, but one that could have been vastly better grounded had she done her homework and a multi-disciplinary literature review, something her PhD committee evidently did not consider necessary.

Having said that, this book is without question a 6+, a ranking achieved by the top 10% of the non-fiction books and DVDs I have reviewed here at Amazon (1692 not counting this one). This is a world-changing book, and while the author has benefited from a fabulous personality and personal presence, and first rate representation and promotion, when read carefully and completely and placed in the context of all that is about us today, the originality, relevance, and imminent potential of this book and the ideas in this book cannot be denied. The author does not do what Medard Gabel has done–provide the architectural underpinings for the digital EarthGame(TM) and global to local holistic “dashboards” that integrate the ten high-level threats to humanity, the twelve core policies, the true costs of every good and service–she is still at the “one of” level rather than the meta level–but if she can reach out to Medard Gabel and others and actually harness not just the cognitive surplus of the crowds, but the contextual pioneering of those who have spent decades before her thinking and doing in this arena, then she will be the righteous public face of what I am starting to call “Open Everything: from Autonomous Internet to Global Panarchy.”


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Feb 28