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Culture: Leading Scientists Explore Societies, Art, Power, and Technologyby John Brockman
Synopses & Reviews
Why do civilizations rise and fall?
What are the origins and purpose of art?
How does technology shape society?
Did culture direct human evolution?
Is the Internet an agent of democracy or dictatorships?
An immensely powerful but little-understood force that impacts society, art, politics, and even human biological development, culture is the very stage on which human experience plays out. But what is it, exactly? What are its rules and origins? In this fascinating volume, John Brockman, editor and publisher of Edge, presents short, accessible explorations of cultures essential aspects, by todays most influential scientists and thinkers.
Contributors and topics include
Jared Diamond on why societies collapse and how we can make better decisions to protect our own future • Denis Dutton on the origins of art Daniel C. Dennett on the evolution of cultures • Jaron Lanier on the ominous impact of the Internet • Nicholas Christakis on the structure and rules of social networks, both “real” and online • Clay Shirky and Evgeny Morozov on the new political reality of the digital era • Brian Eno on what cultures value Stewart Brand on the responsibilities of human power • Douglas Rushkoff on the next Renaissance • W. Daniel Hillis on the Net as a global “knowledge web”
"John Brockman, founder and publisher of the online think tank Edge.org, compiled some of the site's best essays into this dense, but thought-provoking examination of technology, the impact of groupthink, and the evolution of culture. One of the stronger essays is Jared Diamond's 'Why Do Some Societies Make Disastrous Decisions?' which is accessible, insightful, and informative even for a general audience. A sizeable chunk of the book is given to computer scientist Jaron Lanier's 'Digital Maoism,' and the fallout that resulted after its publication in 2006. In Lanier's intriguing essay, he examines the positive and negative impacts of the 'hive mind.' Nine others were inspired to chime in with their thoughts, edits, and refinements on Lanier's concept. The essays aren't all winners-professor David Gelernter's 2010 essay 'Time to Start Taking the Internet Seriously,' is a 36-point circular discussion with few conclusions-but the hits outnumber the misses. Readers hoping for an easily digestible Gladwell-esque take on the evolution of culture will likely be frustrated by the book's academic slant, but those who enjoy philosophical dissection will find a few essays that strike a chord. "
Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Theway Brockman interlaces essays about research on the frontiers of science withones on artistic vision, education, psychology and economics is sure to buzzany brain." —Chicago Sun-Times, on This Will Change Everything
Launchinga hard-hitting new series from Edge.org and Harper Perennial, editor JohnBrockman delivers this cutting-edge master class covering everything you needto know about Culture. With original contributions by the worldsleading thinkers and scientists, including Jared Diamond, Daniel C. Dennett,Brian Eno, Jaron Lanier,Nicholas Christakis, and others, Culture offers a mind-expanding primeron a fundamental topic. Unparalleled in scope, depth, insight and quality, Edge.orgs Culture is not to be missed.
About the Author
The publisher of the online science salon Edge.org, John Brockman is the editor of The Universe, This Explains Everything, This Will Make You Smarter, and other volumes. He is the founder of the literary agency Brockman, Inc., and lives in New York City.
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