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Culture: Leading Scientists Explore Societies, Art, Power, and Technology [Paperback]

John Brockman

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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not enough substance 2 Oct 2011
By algo41 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I suppose the link in this compendium of essays by members of the Edge Foundation is "big ideas", but the substance is not what it should be. The first essay manages to make the exciting concept of memes dull. Brian Arthur's essay on the evolution of technology does a creditable job with the familiar idea of increasing returns (e.g. the more users you have, for an operating system or social network, the more likely you are to attract additional users). Once Arthur tries to move beyond this idea, his concept is vacuous: no implications, no empirical hypothesis, nothing to make you see the world in a different way. I would recommend Jared Diamond's essay if you are not familiar with his book on societal collapse, and also the Christakis discussion of his work on social contagion, although it gains little from the way he leads up to it. Dutton's essay is worth reading for its biographical anecdotes, discussion of animal art, and possibly for its references (note that, contrary to Dutton, Ellen Dissanayake has had several prestigious academic jobs, although apparently not a permanent position - I would love to read more about HER life). Eno's article should be skipped, noting that his discussion of the importance of metaphor is neither original nor well written. Brand's essay meanders and could also be skipped. I did not get much out of the internet essays, but those readers who enjoy reading philosophy might like them very much.
7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cutting edge publication. 8 Oct 2011
By RTLawfirm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Culture is truly a cutting edge book. I have now read it for the third time. The title can be misleading and cause the reader to anticipate a more traditional approach to the concept of culture as a study or appraisal of existing institutions and/or social environments from an historical or empirical perspective. The essayists are the the best in their areas of expertise and offer the reader an analytical (scientific) paradigm to both evaluate and project the impact of state of the art technologies, in particular, and, intellectual revisionist thinking, generally, on the evolution of contemporary man as a phenomena of biological, and past, present and prospective environmental (including institutional) exposures.
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