“The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility”

I recently finished reading Stewart Brand‘s book “The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility“.  I saw it by change while perusing Waltham‘s Public Library, knew of Stewart’s work with The Clock of the Long Now and the Long Now Foundation‘s Seminars About Long-term Thinking, and decided to give it a read.

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“Free Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live”

Awhile ago I finished reading Daniel Pink‘s book “Free Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live“.  I found out about Daniel Pink’s work after watching a TED Talk on “The Surprising Science of Motivation“.

Daniel Pink is a freelance author, columnist and speaker.  His works to date focus on the ever-changing nature of work and society.  His works have been featured in everything from Wired to Harvard Business Review to The New York Times.  He formerly was a speech-writer and aide within President Clinton’s Cabanet.

This book focuses on what Dan calls “Free Agents”, how this group is growing in America, what has allowed for this growth, and the challenges they face.  “Free Agents” refer to all independent workers, ranging from self-employed workers, micro-business owners, consultants, temp-workers, etc.  Pink conservatively estimates that in 2001 there were 33 million workers in the U.S.; that’s 23% of the U.S. workforce.  He sights four factors that are driving people to be independent workers:

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“Who Am I?: The 16 Basic Desires That Motivate Our Actions and Define Our Personalities”

A few weeks ago I read Professor Steven Reiss‘s book “Who Am I?: The 16 Basic Desires That Motivate Our Actions and Define Our Personalities“.  I found this book after watching a TED Talk given by Daniel Pink entitled “The Surprising Science of Motivation“, and googling around on motivation.

Steven Reiss is a Ohio State University Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry.  He has studied, amongst other things, anxiety sensitivity, and mental retardation.  He has won several awards for his work, and has many published papers.

In this book, Dr Reiss describes his theory of 16 Basic Intrinsic Motivations.  This theory argues that, humans are motivated by intrinsic psychological drives, and that these drives are ends in themselves.  Each drive is measured as a continuum for an individual, from weak to strong; it is the particularly strong and weak drives that best explain an individual’s motivations.   The combinations of these 16 motivations describe the variability of human personality.  These 16 motivations are irreducible: any other described drive or motivation can be expressed by the fundamental 16.  These values are not short term “feel-good” happiness, but long term “value-based” happiness.

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“Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software”

With some interruption this month, I finished reading Steven Johnson‘s book “Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software“.  I watched a Long Now Foundation Seminar About Long-term Thinking given by the author that I found interesting, and decided to read this book of his I’d previously heard of relating to Complexity Theory.

Steven Johnson is a popular-science author, who’s written for various scientific magazines.  He’s also been involved with several nascent website services like online magazines and geo-aware search & communities.  He writes on various loosely related subjects about modern scientific developments, both in subject and in community.

“Emergence” is about just that, emergent systems, or Complex Adaptive System( CAS ) that exhibit synergistic properties.  The author uses various examples in the book, including:

  • self-organizing “slime mold
  • ant-colony behaviour
  • emergent cities, and neighbourhoods within cities
  • cognitive abilities from neurons
  • artificial intelligence techniques

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