Monday, October 29, 2007

Featured Book – “Everything is Miscellaneous”

David Weinberger
Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder
303.4834 WEI

David Weinberger’s new book shows how the digital revolution is radically changing the way we make sense of our lives. Human beings are information omnivores, constantly collecting, labelling, and organizing data. Much of this behaviour is the result of the limited nature of the physical world, which demands individual items be given a single positions within the filing systems we use to sort data and objects.

But where the physical world demanded everything had its one place, digital media allows multiple categories and multiple shelves: everything becomes miscellaneous. Weinberger shows how the internet’s collaborative principles are, via Wikipedia, limiting the power of experts, and suggests that the expectations generated by how easy it is to cross-reference resources on the internet, and how popular it has become to socially recommend sites to your friends through “tagging” services like, finally liberates information-gathering from the solitary pursuit of putting single items into individual boxes and instead allows people to organise the things that they use the way the need to: into as many different categories as possible.

With everyone able to take part in creating and editing folksonomies where before they had to adapt to the taxonomies and classification schemes of prior experts, and an on-going review process where all may be one’s peer, David Weinberger’s vision of the present is one that sees hope in the digital disorder that is remaking business, education, politics, science, and culture.

Online video précis in long form from Weinberger’s own Google Tech Talk, or Michael Wesch’s five-minute Information R/evolution.

To borrow a copy of Everything is Miscellaneous, please contact the RSA Library.

Friday, October 12, 2007

RSA Library Update - October 2007

RSA Library Update - September 2007

What follows is a complete list of RSA library acquisitions for the month of September 2007. Fellows are welcome to e-mail if they wish to borrow any of these items, or search the library catalogue for thousands of other titles....

000s – Generalities

100s – Philosophy & Psychology

200s – Religion

Barnaby Rogerson
The Heirs of the Prophet Muhammad and the Roots of the Sunni-Shia Schism
Abacus, 2006, 297 ROG
The Prophet Muhammad taught the word of God to the Arabs. Within a generation of his death, his followers - as vivid a cast of heroic individuals as history has known - had exploded out of Arabia to confront the two great superpowers of the seventh-century and establish Islam and a new civilization. Within this fifty-year span of conquest and empire- building, Barnaby Rogerson also identifies the seeds of discord that destroyed the unity of Islam, and traces the roots of the schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims to the rivalry of the two individuals who best knew and loved the Prophet: his cousin and son-in-law Ali and his wife Aisha.

300s – Social Sciences

Ronald Wright
A Short History of Progress
Canongate, 2007, 303.4409 WRI
Palaeolithic hunters who learnt how to kill two mammoths instead of one had made progress. Those who learnt how to kill 200 - by driving a whole herd over a cliff - had made too much. Many of the great ruins that grace the deserts and jungles of the earth are monuments to progress traps, the headstones of civilisations which fell victim to their own success. The twentieth-century's runaway growth has placed a murderous burden on the planet. A Short History of Progress argues that this modern predicament is as old as civilisation. Only by understanding the patterns of progress and disaster that humanity has repeated since the Stone Age can we recognise the inherent dangers, and, with luck, and wisdom, shape its outcome.

James Martin
The Meaning of the 21st Century: A Vital Blueprint for Ensuring Out Future
Eden Project, 2007, 303.483 MAR
James Martin, one of the world's most widely respected authorities on the impact of technology on society, argues that we are living at a turning point in human history. 'We are travelling at breakneck speed into an era of extremes - extremes of wealth and poverty, extremes in technology, extremes in globalization. If we are to survive, we must learn how to manage them all.' Although we face huge challenges and conflicts, Martin argues that it is in the scientific breakthroughs of the new century that we will find new hope. In a clear, penetrating and insightful style he addresses the key questions of our age and proposes an interconnected set of solutions to its problems.

David Jennings
Net, Blogs and Rock ‘N’ Roll: Digital Discovery, How it Works and What it Means for Consumers, Creators and our Culture
Nicholas Brealey, 2007, 303.4833 JEN
Discovery is the next big thing after search. We are approaching the era of the 'celestial jukebox' where almost every film, TV programme, music track or book is available from a digital store in the sky. But how do consumers find out about and judge what they might like from such a huge and fast-growing source? David Jennings, Fellow of the RSA and speaker at a recent ThuRSdAy lecture, examines the new media revolution and shows how it all works. He introduces the three pillars of digital discovery - (trying out, links and community) - explaining how the history, culture and technology of media are interwoven with the rise of personalization and mobile players.

Andrew Keen
The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing our Culture and Assaulting our Economy
Nicholas Brealey, 2007, 303.4833 KEE
Subject of the RSA lecture The Great Digital Seduction, The Cult of the Amateur sees Silicon Valley pundit Andrew Keen outline the grave consequences of today's new digital media, revealing how an avalanche of amateur content is threatening our values, economy, and ultimately innovation and creativity itself. Highly topical, provocative and controversial, it is a wake-up call offering concrete solutions on how we can rein in this assault. Valued cultural institutions - our professional newspapers, magazines, music, and movies - are being overtaken by an avalanche of amateur, user-generated, free content. In today's self-broadcasting culture, where amateurism is celebrated and anyone with an opinion, however ill-informed, can publish a blog, post a video on YouTube, or change an entry on Wikipedia, the distinction between trained expert and uninformed amateur becomes dangerously blurred.

David Weinberger
Everything is Miscellaneous: the Power of the New Digital Disorder
Times, 2007, 303.4834 WEI
David Weinberger’s new book, on the same theme as his recent Google Tech Talk shows how the digital revolution is radically changing the way we make sense of our lives. Human beings are information omnivores, constantly collecting, labelling, and organizing data. But where the physical world demanded everything had its one place, but digital media allows multiple categories and multiple shelves: everything becomes miscellaneous. David Weinberger charts the new principles of digital order that are remaking business, education, politics, science, and culture, demonstrating and encouraging the consequences this shift.

Peter Oborne
Triumph of the Political Class
Simon & Schuster, 2007, 320 OBO
Recent RSA Library Book of the Week, Peter Oborne's new book reveals how far we have left behind us the idea of people going into politics for that quaint reason, to serve the public. Notions of the greater good and putting something back now seem absurdly idealistic, such is the pervasiveness of cynicism in our politics and politicians. Of course, self-interest has always played a part, and Oborne will show how our current climate owes much to the venality of the eighteenth century. But in these allegedly enlightened times should we not know better? Do we not deserve better from those who seek our electoral approval? Full of revealing and insightful stories and anecdotes to support his case, and with a passionate call for reform, The Triumph of the Political Class is destined to be a defining political book of 2007.

Anthony Seldon (ed.)
Blair's Britain, 1997-2007
Cambridge University Press, 2007, 320.941 SEL
Tony Blair has dominated British political life for more than a decade. Like Margaret Thatcher before him, he has changed the terms of political debate and provoked as much condemnation as admiration. At the end of his era in power, this book presents a wide-ranging overview of the achievements and failures of the Blair governments. Bringing together Britain's most eminent academics and commentators on British politics and society, it examines the effect of the Prime Minister and his administration on the machinery of government, economic and social policy and foreign relations. Combining serious scholarship with clarity and accessibility, this book represents the authoritative verdict on the impact of the Blair years on British politics and society.

A. C. Grayling
Towards the Light: the Story of the Struggles for Liberty and the Rights that Made the Modern West
Bloomsbury, 2007, 323.04091821 GRA
A. C. Grayling itnerweaves political and personal stories from history struggle towards liberty, taking in celebrated and little-known heroes alike, including Martin Luther, John Locke, Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Rosa Parks, whose bus protest became the catalyst of the US civil rights movement. The triumphs and sacrifices of these hard-won victories should make us value these precious rights even more highly, especially in an age when, as Grayling shows, democratic governments under pressure sometimes find it necessary to restrict rights in the name of freedom.

Propping Up Rural and Small Town Britain: Migrant Workers from the New Europe
TUC, 2004, 325.4 TUC
This report is based on information gathered from contact that the TUC has had with workers from the eight new eastern European EU member states since enlargement took place on 1 May, and shows that these new arrivals are to be found less in big cities than in smaller towns and rural areas, marking a departure from earlier waves of migration. The flow to more rural counties is associated with labour and skill shortages in a number of industries located outside urban areas, including hospitality, agriculture and food processing. The report details both successful government strategies for providing assistance to these workers, and details current areas of concern that require more attention.

Overcoming Racism: Why A European Perspective is Crucial
UKREN, 2004, 325.4 UKR
This pamphlet sets out the case for why organisations such as the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) and the UK Race & Europe Network (UKREN) are well placed to lead resistance to the emergence of far-right and racist political groupings in European nations, by providing a Europe-wide network of support for anti-racism activists, and drawing on Europe’s common future and political and social integration to stress the potential of a post-racism society.

Helen Johns and Paul Ormerod
Happiness, Economics and Public Policy
Institute of Economic Affairs, 2007, 330.01 JOH
In Happiness, Economics and Public Policy, Helen Johns and Paul Ormerod analyse the economic research that underlies politicians' growing preoccupation with measures of 'well-being'. In a lucid and compelling analysis, written for economists and non-economists alike, the authors find that happiness research cannot be used to justify government intervention in the way its proponents suggest, arguing that the difficulties in measuring society's happiness are insurmountable, and policymakers should not claim that they can control and increase happiness through public policy decisions.

John J. Kao
Innovation Nation
Free Press, 2007, 338.06 KAO
How is it, leading expert on innovation John Kao asks, that today Finland is the world's most competitive economy and U.S. students rank twenty-fourth in the world in math literacy and twenty-sixth in problem-solving ability? Based on his in-depth experience advising many of the world's leading companies and studying cutting-edge innovation best practices in the most dynamic hot spots of innovation both in the United States and around the world, Kao argues that the United States still has the capability not only to regain our competitive edge, but to take a bold step out ahead of the global community and secure a leadership role in the twenty-first century.
John Kao is a Fellow of the RSA, and has kindly donated this item to its library.

Paul Collier
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can be Done About It
Oxford University Press, 2007, 338.90091724 COL
Global poverty is falling rapidly, but in around fifty failing states, the world's poorest people face a tragedy that is growing inexorably worse. This bottom billion live on less than a dollar a day and while the rest of the world moves steadily forward, this forgotten billion is left further and further behind with potentially serious consequences not only for them but for the stability of the rest of the world. In The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier pinpoints the issues of corruption, political instability and resource management that lie at the root of the problem, and proposes initiatives are carefully designed to help the forgotten bottom billion, one of the key challenges facing the world in the twenty first century.

Vandana Shiva
Biopiracy: the Plunder of Nature and Knowledge
South End Press, 1997, 341.758 SHI
Shiva exposes the new colonies in the North's assault on the South's biological resources -- the interior spaces of the bodies of women, plants and animals -- and convincingly argues that international agreements enable Northern capital to appropriate biodiversity from its original owners by defining as non-science the seeds, medicinal plants, and indigenous knowledge of the South.

Vandana Shiva
Patents: Myths and Realities
Penguin Books, 2004, 346.0486 SHI
In today’s world. Patents affect all of us – whether we are farmers whose right to save seed is threatened, or consumers whose right to food and medicine is being eroded, or researchers whose freedom to exchange knowledge is blocked. This book examines the myths associated with the universalisation of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) in the context of trade liberalisation, and the real consequences of implementing such a regime. It thus demystifies patent laws and highlights the ethical, ecological and economic impacts of globalised patent regimes.

Paul Robinson
Military Honour and the Conduct of War: From Ancient Greece to Iraq
Routledge, 2006, 355.123 ROB
This study presents the first examination of the influence of ideas of honour on the causes, conduct and ending of wars from Ancient Greece to the present day. Paul Robinson begins with a theoretical examination of the concept of honour, to clearly explain the many contradictions and tensions inherent within honour systems. He then shows how honour has often contradictory and paradoxical effects on the conduct of war and illustrates this through case studies from Classical Greece to the current conflict in Iraq, highlighting how honour has been related to the practises, targets and casualties of war.

Michelle Tempest (ed.)
The Future of the NHS
XPL, 2006, 362.10941 TEM
The NHS is an extraordinary institution, with extraordinary staff delivering exterordinary results. Yet its future is a matter of vital public debate while contradictions remain: massive government spending yet Trusts that have huge deficits; low staff morale; falling waiting lists and record activity levels, yet rising public expectations. What is clear is that a consensus is need as to what the NHS should be and which direction it should take. This book stimulates debate on all these issues, with contributions falling in to four categories: political opinion; practice areas; organisation; and funding.

Vandana Shiva
Seed Dictatorship and Food Fascism
Navdanya/RFSTE, 2006, 363.192 SHI
In this pamphlet, physicist and environmental activist, Vandana Shiva questions the possibility of ‘owning’ a seed, arguing instead that the free exchange of such resources between farmers is both culturally important, and a valuable aid in ensuring biodiversity and food security. She details changes made in 2004 by the Indian government to the Patent Act, and the introduction of a Seed Act, both of which permitted to creation of commercial monopolies controlling the production and sale of seeds with specific genes or even general characteristics, and outlines the cultural ramifications of these laws.

Clive Stafford Smith
Bad Men: Guantanamo Bay and the Secret Prisons
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007, 364.660973092 SMI
Clive Stafford Smith is the 46-year-old human-rights lawyer who has famously - some would say notoriously - spent more than twenty years in the United States representing prisoners on Death Row. His clients include many detainees in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, and he established the London-based charity Reprieve, developed to defend human rights in 1999. His book is, quite simply, devastating, and many will laugh and cry reading it: laugh in disbelief, and cry in despair at the utter inhumanity and lack of imagination wrapped up in hypocrisy so enormous that it beggers understanding. His experiences, graphically recounted in this book, have enabled him to shine a bright, unblinking light into the darkest corners of illegality that are being justified by governments in the name of the War on Terror.

Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz and Judy H. Mullet
The Little Book of Restorative Discipline for Schools: Teaching Responsibility, Creating Caring Climates
Good, Books, 2006, 371.5 AMS
Can an overworked teacher possibly turn an unruly incident with students into an opportunity for learning, growth, and community-building? If restorative justice has been able to salvage lives within the world of criminal behavior, why shouldn't its principles be applied in school classrooms and cafeterias? And if our children learn restorative practices early and daily, won't we be building a healthier, more just society? Two educators answer yes, yes, and yes, urging a focus on consequences rather than punishment. They insist that relationships – far more than rules – are central to building community, and that community fosters caring and belonging. They put up with no hypocrisy: teachers and administrators must live restorative practices, too.

Belinda Hopkins
Just Schools: a Whole School Approach to Restorative Justice
Jessica Kingsley, 2003, 371.50941 HOP
Restorative justice is a dynamic and innovative way of dealing with conflict in schools, promoting understanding and healing over assigning blame or dispensing punishment. It can create an ethic of care and justice that makes schools safer and happier, not only through reducing conflict, but also in terms of developing active citizenship skills, good self-esteem, open communication and team work in students. From a teaching background herself, Belinda Hopkins is at the forefront of the development of restorative justice in the UK, and in this practical handbook she presents a whole school approach to repairing harm using a variety of means including peer mediation, healing circles and conference circles.

400s – Language

500s – Natural Sciences & Mathematics

John Brockman (ed.)
What is Your Dangerous Idea? Today’s Leading Thinkers on the Unthinkable
Pocket, 2007, 502 BRO
The history of science is replete with ideas that were considered socially, morally or emotionally dangerous in their time. The Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are obvious examples -- radical, brilliant insights that did not so much push the envelope as rip it into shreds. These ideas were dangerous because they challenged our comfort zone. But what are the dangerous ideas of the twenty-first century? Which theories do the world's leading thinkers and scientists regard as too hot to handle -- not because the idea might be false, but because it might turn out to be true? Collecting together the very best contributions to the renowned question from the most eminent respondents, What is Your Dangerous Idea? is an endlessly fascinating and provocative insight into the bleeding-edge of intellectual endeavour.

Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot
The Tiger that Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers
Profile, 2007, 510 BLA
Numbers have become the all-powerful language of public argument. Too often, that power is abused and the numbers bamboozle. This book shows how to see straight through them - and how to seize the power for yourself. Public spending, health risks, environmental disasters, who is rich, who is poor, Aids or war deaths, pensions, teenage offenders, the best and worst schools and hospitals and immigration - life comes in numbers. Using vivid and everyday images and ideas, this book shows how close to hand insight and understanding can be, and how we can all use what is familiar to make sense of what is baffling.

600s – Technology (Applied Sciences)

Drugs Futures 2025?
Office of Science and Technology, 2005, 615.19 FOR
The findings of an investigation into possible future paths for pharmacology and drug design, Drugs Futures 2025? considers substances legal and illegal and draws on opinion both professional and public to present an overview of possible future research avenues and practical applications of chemical substances, drawing on perspectives as wide-ranging genetics, neuroscience, anthropology and social history.

R. E. Hester and R. M. Harrison (eds.)
Nanotechnology: Consequences for Human Health and the Environment
Royal Society of Chemistry, 2007, 620.5
This new volume seeks to give a broad overview of the sources, behaviour and risks associated with nanotechnology. Setting the subject into context, this book first of all describes the current range of products containing nano-materials and then looking at the consequences for the environment and human health for the introduction of nanoparticles and nano-tubes. A perspective from the United States indicates how in that country the threats posed by nanoparticles are being addressed. It provides comprehensive coverage of the current issues concerning engineered nanoparticles which will be of immediate value to scientists, engineering and policymakers within the field, as well as to students on advanced courses wishing to look closely into this topical subject.

Don Tapscott & Anthony D. Williams
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
Portfolio, 2006, 658.046 TAP
In just the last few years, traditional collaboration – in a meeting room, a conference call, even a convention center – has been superseded by collaborations on an astronomical scale. Today, encyclopedias, jetliners, operating systems, mutual funds, and many other items are being created by teams numbering in the thousands or even millions. While some leaders fear the heaving growth of these massive online communities, "Wikinomics" proves this fear is folly. A brilliant guide to one of the most profound changes of our time, "Wikinomics" challenges our most deeply-rooted assumptions about business and will prove indispensable to anyone who wants to understand competitiveness in the twenty-first century.

Frank Lefley and Bob Ryan
The Financial Appraisal Profile Model
Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, F 658.152 LEF
This book describes an integrated capital appraisal procedure that is commanding increasing attention in the academic world, industry, commerce and the professions. Formal techniques are widely used for the analysis of capital projects but are limited by their scope and by the difficulty in interpreting the significance of the results they produce. The FAP model overcomes these difficulties by creating an integrated process for the appraisal of the financial and strategic benefits of new project proposals and for the assessment of risk.

John Storey
Human Resource Management: A Critical Text, Second Edition
Thomson Learning, 2007, 658.3 STO
This volume gives comprehensive coverage of all the main areas of Human Resources Management and as such it should be suitable as a main course text. The second edition retains nearly all the existing contributors but there are several new chapters: HRM and Ethics by Woodall and Winstanley; Knowledge Management by Paul Quintas; Organizational Learning, Culture and Change by Graeme Salaman; and a chapter on recruitment entitled Employee Resourcing and authored by Paul Iles.

700s – The Arts

Norbert Lynton
William Tillyer: Against the Grain
21, 2001, 759.2 LYN/TIL
A survey of Tillyer's life and work by Norbert Lynton, one of the UK's longest standing art historians. Admired by fellow artists and collectors, Tillyer's work has mystified critics by his constant changing of style with each new phase seeming to contradict and undermine the last. Lynton looks at Tillyer's output as a whole, studying his life and work to try and give an understanding of its underlying consistency and inventiveness.
William Tillyeris a Fellow of the RSA, and has kindly donated this item to its library.

Fan-Pen Li Chen
The Chinese Shadow Theatre: History, Popular Religion, and Women Warriors
McGill-Queen's University, 2007, 791.50951 CHE
The Chinese Shadow Theatre includes several rare transcriptions of oral performances, including a didactic play on the Eighteen Levels of Hell and Investiture of the Gods, a sacred saga, and translations of three rare, hand-copied shadow plays featuring religious themes and women warrior characters. Drawing on extensive research and fieldwork, she argues that these plays served a mainly religious function during the Qing dynasty and that the appeal of women warrior characters reflected the lower classes’ high tolerance for the unorthodox and subversive.

800s – Literature

Germaine Greer
Shakespeare’s Wife
Bloomsbury, 2007, 822.33 GRE
Little is known about the wife of the world's most famous playwright, but much is said about her. Ann Hathaway has been mocked and vilified by scholars for centuries. The glaring omission of her name from Shakespeare's will has been gleefully used by many as evidence that she was nothing more than an ugly old wench whom William was shackled to after a thoughtless roll in the hay in his giddy youth. Yet Shakespeare went on to become the very poet of marriage, exploring the sacrament in all its aspects, spiritual, psychological, sexual and sociological. He is the creator of the most tenacious and intelligent heroines in English literature. Is it possible, therefore, that Ann was the inspiration? Part-biography, part-history, Shakespeare's Wife is fascinating in its reconstruction of Ann's life, and the daily lives of Elizabethan women.

900s – Geography & History

Naomi Klein
The Shock Doctrine: Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Penguin, 2007, 909.825 KLE
In this groundbreaking book, the bestselling author of No Logo exposes the gripping story of how America's 'free market' policies have come to dominate the world - through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries. Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Klein traces disaster capitalism’s intellectual origins back fifty years to the University of Chicago's economics department under Milton Friedman, whose influence is still felt around the world.

Peter Ackroyd
Thames: Sacred River
Chatto & Windus, 2007, 942.2 ACK
Thames: Sacred River is about the river from source to sea. It covers history from prehistoric times to the present, the flora and fauna of the river, paintings and photographs inspired by the Thames, its geology, smells and colours, its literature, laws and landscape, its magic and myths, its architecture, trade and weather. Peter Ackroyd has a genius for digging out the most surprising and entertaining details, and for writing about them in magisterial prose.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Book of the Week – “Capitalism as if the World Matters”

Jonathon Porritt
Capitalism as if the World Matters
Earthscan, 2005, 330.122 POR
Chairman of the UK Ecology – now Green – Party from 1978 to 1984, Director of Friends of the Earth from then until 1990, and co-founder of Forum for the Future in 1996, Jonathon Porritt turned his attention in his most recent book, Capitalism as if the World Matters, to arguing for just that: a reorganisation of the capitalist system to take account of the value of the raw natural resources it extracts from the earth, and an environmentalism that acknowledges the reality of capitalism’s widespread, dominant, popular position as “the only economic game in town.”

Instead of what he sees as Green politics’ negative emphasis and traditional refusal to engage with businesses, – preferring to look down on them only as the causes of climate change – Porritt argues for what he has been working to achieve in his role as a consultant to businesses and chair of the Sustainable Development Committee; a constructive engagement with the systems that generate pollution, to find workable solutions to the problems facing the planet today.

Porritt’s goal is a politically engaged green movement that capitalises on the current importance of enviromental issues to electorial politics by talking of the positive benefits that the challenge of climate change could bring society, by providing an opportunity to tackle social inequalities, correct the work-life balance and reorganise communities in line with the principles of sustainable development.

Jonathon Porrit blogs here, and will be presenting a talk on the book at the RSA on Thursday, 25 October. Précis of the book are available from The Observer and openDemocracy, the latter also featuring six responses.

To borrow a copy of Capitalism as if the World Matters, please contact the RSA Library.