4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Rewarding Look at Emergence (Particularly the Ants),
This review is from: Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software (Paperback)
If 'Emergence' is one thing, it is thought-provoking. Whether you are new to "emergence theory" or have read about it before, there will be something here to get your brain whirring. Johnson takes the reader on a fascinating tour through the history of the science, and shows us, crisply and in compelling detail, the many ways emergence affects us today - from our behaviour on the side-walk (or, in the UK, pavement) to the near chaos internet discussion forums. And there are ants: one of the best sections in 'Emergence' is the chapter about the behaviour of ants.
There are moments when the reader wonders where Johnson is going: he can become so involved in a particular aspect of his argument (the development of the internet and of computer games, for example) that the broader picture - the nature of emergent systems, and their uses in, or relevance to, our lives - can seem a little distant. The book as a whole would have benefited if the theory and science of the early chapters had featured more strongly in the latter half. But Johnson writes so well, in such an enjoyable, enthusiastic style, that the book never becomes hard work.
'Emergence' is a good book that will appeal to anyone (and I mean anyone - this isn't a book just geeks or boffins) who enjoys looking at the world around them in challenging new ways. And it is a book with a long life - you are sure to return to it, flicking through the index to find Johnson's lucid take on one thing or another.