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Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Painful but thought provoking evaluation of complex systems, 2 Feb. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Out Of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World (Paperback)
This is the best badly written book I have read lately. Kelly's book provides an enthusiastic reflection on the evolution of complex systems, full of vivid images and provocative metaphors, yet one can't avoid the impression he wrote it down as he thought of it. Kelly is a magazine editor (Wired) and his book comes across like a 475-page magazine article -- whenever he decides to change directions mid-chapter, he simply inserts a rosette and moves on. This book and its readers would have been well served by passing the text through the hands of a demanding book editor -- the result would have been a text about 150 pages shorter and much clearer. It also would have been helpful to have had the text proofread -- I nearly tore up the book reading over and over his confused expression "hone in on", an illiterate cross between "hone" and "home in on." I don't know Kelly's educational background. Reading his book I get the impression that his formal credentials are minimal but that he's very good at finding smart people and following them around. The result is a book that chronicles the development of this field while communicating his fascination with complex concepts he just barely understands, and his dilletante's infatuation with the jargon that describes it. The ideas in this book, and particularly the juxtapositions of ideas that Kelly assembles, are well worth reading about. But a better approach might be to skim the book, noting authors and titles, and then go straight to the source material listed at length in the back.
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