Monday, April 13, 2009

Other recent book purchases ... not sure if there's a hidden connection, but all suggestions welcome.

BTW : Already read Cradle to Cradle. Excellent and inspiring.


John Powers said...

All is change.

Wow cool books. It's been a very long time since I bought a book and even longer since I was in a book store. Last time I was, in the "digital" section and grouped with computer books was "The Finger: The Comprehensive Guide to Flipping Off."

Want to read "Cradle to Cradle" and "Camps" looks fascinating. Probably way above my comprehension, the blurb on "Simulation" gets at something very significant: simulation as a "tool of discovery."

Newspapers are dropping like flies here in the USA. Some are suggesting that Universities are next shoe to drop for similar reasons. I'm not so sure about that premise, but it does seem that our notions about education are changing; perhaps we are ready to pay more attention to processes and relationships and a little less to things.

Whatever the "hidden link" in your recent reading is, it suggests to me fundamental change coming in our approach to knowledge.

Composing said...

Actually, a book on the finger in the digital section is quite a funny joke.


Do read Cradle to Cradle. As so often, I started it with a slightly jaded cynicism half exepcting a naive "technology will save us" sort of tract; but by the end I was convinced that the idea, taken seriously, could be profound. And the more that people work towards it, the better.

And it's quick and enjoyable to read.

I still think there's a need for complementary forms of political action beyond product design and consumerism, hence The Transistion Handbook from the last photo.

I think universities and schools in their current form are definitely in for a great restructuring. I seem to see more direct discussion of schools, but I suppose universities are easier institutions to change.

A not very promising trend is that universities are evolving towards being "courseware" designers : creating and franchising static nuggets of information.

You can see the temptation: they're going for a "product strategy" (low cost, resellable information units protected by intellectual property) but it's probably the opposite of what they *should* be doing which is turning themselves into active communities of smart people, intellectuals and interested outsiders. A university needs to be a conversation. Not a wannabe publisher.

Of course, a newspaper needs to be this, too, so there may be a lot of overlap between a good university and a good newspaper.

Both of them will end up looking like a good online discussion forum with a special community and perhaps some advanced tools to help them manage and mine their conversation.

The good news is, that even if existing universities or newspapers don't evolve into these things, they're going to appear anyway.

John Powers said...

I have a visceral reaction to chest thumping and there's been a lot recently here in the USA in re the Somali pirates: "It's an easy problem, just kill them." The very loose connection to this discussion is "Transition Handbook" and John Robb's championing "resilient communities" instead of violence as the solution to everything.

Keith Hart recently posted a lecture "An engaged anthropology for the 21st century". He wrote about it:

"It was introduced as ‘The anthropology of politics’, but my intention was to speak about how we might engage with our times through an anthropology whose object is defined as ‘the making of world society’. What do we need to know about humanity as a whole that would help us to build a better world?"

Hart notes that such an anthropology would necessarily be interdisciplinary. I'm less certain that he actually said it would be necessarily pedagogical, but I think so.

Chris Hedges gripes about how we've turned universities into "vocational factories." The main part of his evidence is the steep decline in study in the Humanities and the increase in business education.

I can imagine that Umair Haque might come up with a vision for business education not unlike Hart's vision for anthropology.

After hurricane Katrina, I thought about Tulane University which was badly damaged. In my dreamy way I thought about the architect Shigeru Ban and his wonderful paper tube structures.

Some US-based universities are setting up campuses in emerging markets. The ivy covered walls are the wrong model for Hart's vision. Camps would be better.