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Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age [Kindle Edition]

Steven Johnson
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

What connects the "miracle on the Hudson" to the planning of the French railway system, or the mysterious outbreak of strange smells in downtown Manhattan to the invention of the Internet? With his characteristic flair for multidisciplinary storytelling, Steven Johnson shows in Future Perfect that what lies behind these and many other fascinating human stories is the concept of networked thinking.



Exploring a new vision of progress, Johnson argues that networked thinking holds the key to an incredible range of human achievements, and can transform everything from local government to drug research to arts funding and education. Future Perfect paints a compelling portrait of a new model of political change that is already on the rise, and shows that despite Western political systems hopelessly gridlocked by old ideas, change for the better can happen, and that new solutions are on the horizon.



'If you're a pessimist-and chances are you are-you should read Future Perfect. In fact, read it even if you're an optimist, because Mr. Johnson's book will give you lots of material to brighten the outlook of your gloomy friends...it envisions a new political movement' Wall Street Journal



'An informative, tech-savvy and provocative vision of a new and more democratic public philosophy. A breath of fresh air a breath of fresh air in an age of gridlock, cynicism and disillusionment' San Francisco Chronicle



'A buoyant and hopeful book ... Future Perfect reminds us we already have the treatment. We just need to use it' Boston Globe



Steven Johnson is the US bestselling author of Where Good Ideas Come From, The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, and Everything Bad Is Good for You, and is the editor of the anthology The Innovator's Cookbook. He is the founder of a variety of influential websites - most recently, outside.in - and writes for Time, Wired, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He lives in Marin County, California, with his wife and three sons.


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Review

If you're a pessimist-and chances are you are-you should read Future Perfect. In fact, read it even if you're an optimist, because Mr. Johnson's book will give you lots of material to brighten the outlook of your gloomy friends...it envisions a new political movement (Wall Street Journal)

An informative, tech-savvy and provocative vision of a new and more democratic public philosophy. A breath of fresh air a breath of fresh air in an age of gridlock, cynicism and disillusionment (San Francisco Chronicle)

A buoyant and hopeful book ... Future Perfect reminds us we already have the treatment. We just need to use it (Boston Globe)

An articulate manifesto (Clive Cookson Financial Times)

About the Author

Steven Johnson is the US bestselling author of Where Good Ideas Come From, The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, and Everything Bad Is Good for You, and is the editor of the anthology The Innovator's Cookbook. He is the founder of a variety of influential websites - most recently, outside.in - and writes for Time, Wired, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He lives in Marin County, California, with his wife and three sons.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 322 KB
  • Print Length: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 Oct. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00903YDAQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #325,274 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy read 21 Nov. 2012
By D. P. Mankin TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a very easy (and relatively quick) read about an interesting topic. The underlying premise is a sound one in principle but the delivery is rather lightweight and superficial; and there is a lack of rigour to the author's analysis and argumentation. The tone and style of writing is almost conversational - more that of an extended magazine article than a carefully crafted and persuasive book. The author is occasionally sloppy in his use of terminology; for instance his notion that computers can be `embodied'. I would have had more confidence in the book's content if the author had displayed evidence of having engaged more effectively with a wider range of literature on knowledge sharing structures and processes. That said, this is an important area and the book should provoke debate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Future Perfect 24 Jan. 2013
By Damaskcat HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What is the best way to make progress? How can we, human beings, come up with the best ideas and solve scientific problems? What's the best way to run a country and how much say should the ordinary individual have in what laws are passed? This book raises some intriguing and important questions for all of us and provides some fascinating examples of how people are developing some very creative solutions to some of the problems of modern living.

Democracies elect people to enact laws on their behalf but can you imagine a situation where you as an individual could actually vote on which new laws you want? How would you feel about having much more of an individual say in how your local council's budget is spent in your neighbourhood? This is what has happened in one city in Brazil and it has resulted in a huge improvement in the standard of living for the poorest in a city.

In New York there is a telephone number you can phone to report pot holes, strange smells, a litter problem or anti-social behaviour as well as hundreds of other issues which arise in a city environment. The calls are logged and tracked and the information passed to the correct department to deal with - and it works.

Wikipedia has shown how powerful and useful harnessing the knowledge of the individual can be. Similar systems can be used to solve almost any problem. Peer progress is the way forward it seems and the author quotes many examples to show how this is starting to work in many different scenarios. Currently pharmaceutical companies spend billions on research and development - perhaps this could be better funded by means of `rewards' for individual effort and by awarding prizes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
When you see the stock market valuations of Internet and social media companies that price audiences at billions of dollars even if there are no profits you may scratch your head in confusion.

Future Perfect by Steven Johnson is a book that captures the optimism behind those stock prices and despite its US focus provides some good pointers for small businesses everywhere.

At the heart of his argument to be optimistic is his belief that LeGrand stars will be replaced by Baran webs. No, I didn't know what he was on about either. But it is compelling to read on.

LeGrand stars are systems like big corporations and big government, named after the Frenchman who built France's railway network centred on Paris. It's super-efficient until the centre breaks down.

Paul Baran was an engineer who worked in the US defence industry and developed a communications web that the Soviets could not disable by knocking out the centre. It became the internet.

In his book. Johnson gives plenty of examples where ordinary people are able to collaborate in peer-to-peer networks to achieve great results.

For example, malnourished families in rural Vietnam were helped by outsiders who focussed on finding out how some families managed to feed their children and then on sharing their ideas in the villages. The consultants were "not there to provide outside expertise; they were there to amplify the expertise that already existed in the community."

This is a great example for independent retailers, who need to share best practice with each other. Some of the best symbol groups started out as peer-to-peer networks and many try to maintain strong information exchanges.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Irritating Techno Utopianism 15 Mar. 2013
By A. I. Mackenzie VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book was disappointing.

In essence he takes the peer to peer capability of the internet and transposes this to the social life. As such the entire book rests on an analogy which you may find interesting but is hardly a water tight argument.

He also invents a term 'peer progressive' which essentially seems to mean people like me - socially liberal, economically conservative but with the awareness that markets can fail and a dislike of hierarchical organisations. I'm not sure this is a useful term and that it actually identifies any real group of people. I suspect this group collapses into libertarianism quite quickly.

A lot of the time he basically seems to be saying that sharing information is good and many examples he quotes such as the 311 number you can ring for information in New York are not peer to peer - just old fashioned hierarchies using the new technology.

Well written, but a dodgy thesis not properly backed up.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Powder puff piece
I am all for making non-fiction topics accessible to the lay person. In trying to do this the good author turns the power of network thinking into something lightweight, with vague... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Jack Chakotay
3.0 out of 5 stars This year's model
In 'Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age' Steven Johnson attempts to demonstrate that what lies behind a wide range of human achivements is the concept of... Read more
Published 19 months ago by G. J. Oxley
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but not up to the standards of previous titles
Steven Johnson's recent run of books - The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, Where Good Ideas Come From - have been so thoroughly well researched, considered and written that he's... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Peter J. Gasston
1.0 out of 5 stars Nauseating Hayek apostle Utopian pamphlet.
The question is where to start with saying what is wrong with this book. Perhaps the most irritating thing is the number of times the author mentions Hayek and how right he was in... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Andrew Dalby
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite Interesting
I quite enjoyed reading this. I felt that I learned a few things though it seemed very utopian to me. Read more
Published on 10 May 2013 by The Emperor
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but at times a bit disingenuous
This is a good, 'easy read' from an American writer who sees the future in terms of peer to peer networks, as typified by the internet, where there is a free, [supposedly] anarchic... Read more
Published on 19 April 2013 by Zipster Zeus
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting & well written little book.
Steve Johnson wrote a nice, little provoking book called "Where good ideas come from". I enjoyed that book so I was very happy to read this book too. Read more
Published on 21 Mar. 2013 by Clarke
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and well worth reading
SJ is a journalist with several bestsellers to his credit.He has an upbeat opening in which he states that the world has in the majority of cases improved. Read more
Published on 1 Mar. 2013 by Ms. C. R. Stillman-lowe
3.0 out of 5 stars Jaunty look at civilisation
Steven Johnson's Future Perfect, looks at the how society works from an upbeat perspective. I'm guessing the our Steve is American and in common with his countrymen and women,... Read more
Published on 13 Feb. 2013 by Jago Wells
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