Friday, November 23, 2007

Featured book - "We-Think"

Charlie Leadbeater

Blogged by Tessy Britton at the Open RSA blog, Charles Leadbeater’s forthcoming book makes a mockery of the term “forthcoming book” by being available online, along with all the value-added digital goodies that are normally reserved for subscribers, for free, right now, months before it comes out in print.

One of the introductory speakers at the launch of RSA Networks yesterday, Leadbeater spoke then, as in does in this book, on the power of large groups of people operating on Open Source principles to create, refine and implement revolutionary and powerful new ideas, from the free operating system Linux to the community-organised classified ads of Craigslist.

In describing, explaining and promoting the capacity for self-regulating, self-creating networks of individuals to generate public goods, We-Think forms a valuable reference for the work the RSA is currently undertaking to transform the relationship the its Fellows, as well as between the Fellows themselves.

To find out more about the RSA’s work in this area you can follow, and join in, the discussions on the RSA Networks and OpenRSA blogs.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Featured Book - "Multicultural Odysseys"

Will Kymlicka
Multicultural Odysseys: Navigating the New International Politics of Diversity
Oxford University Press, 2007, 323.1 KYM

We are currently witnessing the global diffusion of multiculturalism, both as a political discourse and as a set of international legal norms. States today are under increasing international scrutiny regarding their treatment of ethnocultural groups, and are expected to meet evolving international standards regarding the rights of indigenous peoples, national minorities, and immigrants. Yet this phenomenon isn’t just the result of internal pressure from the minorities that live within these states, but is also advocated, and even demanded, by inter-state bodies such as the UN and EU.

However, the formulation and implementation of these international norms has generated a number of dilemmas. The policies adopted by international organizations to deal with ethnic diversity are driven by conflicting impulses. Pessimism about the destabilizing consequences of ethnic politics alternates with optimism about the prospects for a peaceful and democratic form of multicultural politics.

The result is often an unstable mix of paralyzing fear and naive hope, rooted in conflicting imperatives of security and justice. Moreover, given the enormous differences in the characteristics of minorities (eg., their size, territorial concentration, cultural markers, historic relationship to the state), it is difficult to formulate standards that apply to all groups. Yet attempts to formulate more targeted norms that apply only to specific categories of minorities (eg., "indigenous peoples" or "national minorities") have proven controversial and unstable.

Yet the emerging international framework for minority rights has proved popular as a framework within which minority groups in a wide variety of countries, from tribal groups in Africa divided by state boundaries to immigrant groups in Western Europe, to make claims for greater recognition and autonomy. Against those critics who argue that this multiculturalism is a threat to the universal human rights it calls upon, Kymlicka shows that the laws and norms that govern these claims are inspired and constrained by the human rights revolution, and embedded in a framework of liberal-democratic values.

The RSA has recently hosted two lectures on how societies do or don’t cope with this new politics of multiculturalism: Paul Snideman on When Ways of Life Collide and Anne Phillips on Multiculturalism without Culture. Please cick the titles for more information and full audio downloads of the events.

To borrow a copy of Multicultural Odysseys, please contact the RSA Library.

Friday, November 09, 2007

RSA Library Update - November 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

Helen Forde
Preserving Archives
Facet, 2006, 025.84 FOR
Access to archival material - the documentary heritage of people all over the world that gives them their identity and ensures their rights - is dependent on the survival of fragile materials: paper, parchment, photographic materials, audiovisual materials and, most recently, magnetic and optical formats. The primary importance of such survival is widely acknowledged but sometimes overlooked in a rush to provide ever better means of access. But without the basic material, no services can be offered. Preservation is the heart of archival activity. Archivists in all types of organizations face questions of how to plan a preservation strategy in less than perfect circumstances, or deal with a sudden emergency, and this practical book considers the causes of threats to the basic material, outlines the preservation options available and offers flexible solutions applicable in a variety of situations.

100s – Philosophy & Psychology

Richard Reeves
John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand
Atlantic, 2007, 192 REE
John Stuart Mill was a vigorous activist who began campaigning for accessible contraceptive methods when he was just seventeen, shocked into action after finding a recently killed newborn baby in a park. He would become, in time, the highest-ranked English thinker of the century, the author of On Liberty and one of the most passionate reformers and advocates of his opinionated age. Mill was always a headstrong individual: as a journalist he fired off an article a week on Irish land reform as the people of that nation starved, and as an MP he introduced the first vote on women's suffrage, fought to preserve the rights of free-speech and was bitterly opposed to slavery. To understand Mill, and his contribution not only to his own century but to ours, Reeves explores this figure's life and work in tandem. John Stuart Mill is a portrait of a man raised to promote happiness and whose life was spent in the pursuit of truth and liberty for all.

200s – Religion

300s – Social Sciences

Nicola Madge and John Barker
Risk & Childhood
RSA, 2007, 302.12 MAD
Growing up is a risky business. From the moment of birth children face an array of hazards and challenges, most of which they overcome or deal with successfully - but some of which they do not. As parents and citizens we want to minimise the harm that may come to our children, but what does this mean in reality? How much safer can we make children’s lives, and should making them as safe as possible always be our goal? The new report from the The RSA Risk Commision seeks to answer these questions, and judging by the press it’s been getting, just in time, too.

Hannah Green and Celia Hannon
Their Space: Education for a Digital Generation
Demos, 2007, 302.231 GRE
Their Space: Education for a Digital Generation draws on qualitative research with children and polling of parents to counter the myths obscuring the true value of digital media.
Approaching technology from the perspective of children, it tells positive stories about how they use online space to build relationships and create original content. It argues that the skills children are developing through these activities, such as creativity, communication and collaboration, are those that will enable them to succeed in a globally networked, knowledge-driven economy.

Cass R. Sunstein
Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge
Oxford University Press, 2006, 303.4833 CAS
The rise of the information society offers not only considerable peril but also great promise. Beset from all sides by a never-ending barrage of media, how can we ensure that the most accurate information emerges and is heeded? Cass R. Sunstein here develops a deeply optimistic understanding of the human potential to pool information, combat groupthink, and to use that knowledge to improve our lives. New ways, many Internet-based, to share and aggregate information--including wikis, open-source software, and prediction markets--are helping companies, schools, governments, and individuals not only to acquire, but also to create, ever-growing bodies of accurate knowledge without succumbing to the dangers of a hive-mind mentality. In a world where opinion and anecdote increasingly compete on equal footing with hard evidence, the on-line effort of many minds coming together could provide the best path to infotopia.

Cass R. Sunstein 2.0
Princeton University Press, 2007, 303.4833 CAS
What happens to democracy and free speech if people use the Internet to create echo chambers - to listen and speak only to the like-minded? What is the democratic benefit of the Internet's unlimited choices if citizens narrowly limit the information they receive, creating ever-smaller niches and fragmenting the shared public conversation on which democracy depends? Cass Sunstein first asked these questions before 9/11, in, and they have become even more urgent in the years since. Now, in 2.0, Sunstein thoroughly rethinks the critical relationship between democracy and the Internet in a world where partisan Web logs have emerged as a significant force in politics and where cyber-jihadists have embraced the Internet to thwart democracy and spread violence. Sunstein will present a lunchtime lecture here at the RSA on 2.0 on Thursday 7 December. Please click here for more information and to book your place.

Libby Brookes
The Story of Childhood: Growing Up In Modern Britain
Bloomsbury, 2006, 305.230941 BRO
The bestseller charts would suggest that we savour stories of unhappy upbringings - are in fact greedy for them, the worse the better - but in today's ASBO-afflicted Britain, it is clear that there is much we don't understand about contemporary childhood. Children today are the focus of much of society's anxieties: about behaviour, nutrition, sexuality, consumerism, achievement, responsibility, about what exactly is the proper shape of a life. But, how does it really feel to be growing up today, from the inside? This extraordinary book tracks ten very different children between the ages of two and sixteen, each chosen for how they illuminate a particular archetype of childhood experience, or an especial locus of adult anxiety. Woven through each chapter are trips into more discursive territory, but essentially, this is childhood told from the inside: a travel book about a state of being, telling the story of contemporary childhood with the help of those who still reside there.

Joan Wallach Scott
The Politics of the Veil
Princeton University Press, 2007, 305.6970944 SCO
In 2004, the French government instituted a ban on the wearing of conspicuous signs of religious affiliation in public schools. Though the ban applies to everyone, it is aimed at Muslim girls wearing headscarves. Proponents of the law insist it upholds France's values of secular liberalism and regard the headscarf as symbolic of Islam's resistance to modernity. The Politics of the Veil is an explosive refutation of this view, one that bears important implications for us all. Joan Wallach Scott, the renowned pioneer of gender studies, argues that the law is symptomatic of France's failure to integrate its former colonial subjects as full citizens. She emphasizes the conflicting approaches to sexuality that lie at the heart of the debate - how French supporters of the ban view sexual openness as the standard for normalcy, emancipation, and individuality, and the sexual modesty implicit in the headscarf as proof that Muslims can never become fully French, and shows how the insistence on homogeneity is no longer feasible for France - or the West in general. The Politics of the Veil calls for a new vision of community, where common ground is found amid our differences and the embracing of diversity - not its suppression - is recognized as the best path to social harmony.

Andy Wilson
Northern Soul: Drug Use, Crime and Social Identity in the 1970s Northern Soul Scene
Willan, 2007, 306.1 WIL
This book provides a vivid historical ethnography of the 1970s Northern Soul scene, drawing on the author's personal involvement in this as well extensive research, and the book examines how cultural patterns and normative standards are established through individual practices and group interaction, aiming to show how participants in the scene became converted to actions that they once thought unacceptable - for a substantial majority this was amphetamine use, and for a minority, opiate use and burglary. Northern Soul shows how early life influences have a powerful impact on shaping social identity, attachment to the subculture, and involvement in crime.

McKenzie Ward
Gamer Theory
Harvard University Press, 2007, 306.487 WAR
Ever get the feeling that life's a game with changing rules and no clear sides, one you are compelled to play yet cannot win? Welcome to gamespace; both where and how we live today. It is everywhere and nowhere: the main chance, the best shot, the big leagues, the only game in town. In a world thus configured, McKenzie Wark contends, digital computer games are the emergent cultural form of the times. Where others argue obsessively over violence in games, Wark approaches them as a utopian version of the world in which we actually live. Playing against the machine on a game console, we enjoy the only truly level playing field - where we get ahead on our strengths or not at all. Gamer Theory uncovers the significance of games in the gap between the near-perfection of actual games and the highly imperfect gamespace of everyday life in the rat race of free-market society, depicting a world as an inescapable series of less and less perfect games. This world gives rise to a new persona: in place of the subject or citizen stands the gamer.

Daniel Hind
The Threat to Reason: How the Enlightenment was Hijacked and How We Can Reclaim It
Verso Books, 2007, 320.01 HIN
Today, media commentators, intellectuals and politicians declare that western science and rationality are threatened by irrational enemies. Evangelicals, postmodernists, and Islamists are on the march, they say. The Rome that science built is under siege. But there's a problem with these claims: they aren't true. In this urgent new book, Daniel Hind confronts the great machinery of deception in which we live, and which now threatens to destroy our civilization. In particular, he takes to task a group of prominent intellectuals who have exaggerated the threat posed by the so-called forces of unreason - religion, postmodernism and other mumbo-jumbo. The commentators, says Hind, distract us from much more pressing threats to an open democratic society based on freedom of speech and inquiry. This book shows that the real threats to reason aren't wacky or foreign or stupid; they reside in our state and corporate bureaucracies.

James Bohman
Democracy Across Borders: From Dêmos to Dêmoi
MIT, 2007, 321.8 BOH
This title offers an innovative conception of democracy for an era of globalization and delegation of authority beyond the nation-state: rule by peoples across borders rather than by the people within a fixed jurisdiction. Today, democracy is both exalted as the best means to realize human rights and seen as weakened because of globalization and delegation of authority beyond the nation-state. In this provocative book, James Bohman argues that democracies face a period of renewal and transformation and that democracy itself needs redefinition according to a new transnational ideal. Democracy, he writes, should be rethought in the plural; it should no longer be understood as rule by the people (dêmos), singular, with a specific territorial identification and connotation, but as rule by peoples (dêmoi), across national boundaries.

Will Kymlicka
Multicultural Odysseys: Navigating the New International Politics of Diversity
Oxford University Press, 2007, 323.1 KYM
We are currently witnessing the global diffusion of multiculturalism, both as a political discourse and as a set of international legal norms. States today are under increasing international scrutiny regarding their treatment of ethnocultural groups, and are expected to meet evolving international standards regarding the rights of indigenous peoples, national minorities, and immigrants. This phenomenon represents a veritable revolution in international relations, yet has received little public or scholarly attention. In this book, Kymlicka examines the factors underlying this change, and the challenges it raises. Against those critics who argue that multiculturalism is a threat to universal human rights, Kymlicka shows that the sort of multiculturalism that is being globalized is inspired and constrained by the human rights revolution, and embedded in a framework of liberal-democratic values.

Lawrence Lessig
Code, Version 2.0
Basic Books, 2006, 343.09944 LES
There's a common belief that cyberspace cannot be regulated - that is, its very essence is immune from the government's (or anyone else's) control. Code, Version 2.0, first published in 2000 and revised to it’s current form through public debates on the book’s wiki, argues that this belief is wrong. It is not in the nature of cyberspace to be unregulable; cyberspace has no nature. It only has code - the software and hardware that makes cyberspace what it is. That code can create a place of freedom - as the original architecture of the Net did - or a place of oppressive control. Under the influence of commerce, cyberspace is becoming a highly regulable space, where behaviour is much more tightly controlled than in real space. But that's not inevitable either. We can - we must - choose what kind of cyberspace we want and what freedoms we will guarantee.

Lawrence Lessing
The Future of Ideas: The Face of the Commons in a Connected World
Vintage, 2003, 346.048 LES
The Internet revolution has come, and some say it has gone. In The Future of Ideas, Lawrence Lessig explains how the revolution has produced a counterrevolution of potentially devastating power and effect. Creativity once flourished because the Net protected a commons on which widest range of innovators could experiment. But now, manipulating the law for their own purposes, corporations have established themselves as virtual gatekeepers of the Net while Congress, in the pockets of media magnates, has rewritten copyright and patent laws to stifle creativity and progress. Lessig weaves the history of technology and its relevant laws to make a lucid and accessible case to protect the sanctity of intellectual freedom. He shows how the door to a future of ideas is being shut just as technology is creating extraordinary possibilities that have implications for all of us. Vital, eloquent, judicious and forthright, The Future of Ideas is a call to arms that we can ill afford to ignore.

Simon Parker and Sophia Parker
Unlocking Innovation: Why Citizens Hold the Key to Public Sector Reform
Demos, 2007, 353.48 PAR
Edited by Simon Parker and the RSA’s Sophia Parker, Unlocking Innovation collects essays and analysis from a wide range of public sector experts and practitioners. The chapters offer lessons on how public services can better engage their users based on examples of best practice in the public and private sectors. Sophia Parker has also written about effective engagement for the RSA Journal and the RSA Network’s blog.

Michael Barber
Instruction to Deliver: Tony Blair, Public Services and the Challenge of Achieving Targets
Politico’s, 2007, 361.60941 BAR
In Tony Blair's first term, 1997-2001, much was promised in reform of social services, but relatively little was achieved - except perhaps in Education, where Michael Barber was head of the Standards and Effectiveness Unit. For 2001-05, the commitment was to real change in domestic policy, and Sir Michael Barber was appointed head of the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit (PMDU), to concentrate on specific targets, initially 17, such as casualty waiting time, school tests, league tables, street crime, transport etc. Much was achieved, despite great tension, pressures, chaos and challenges, as a new working philosophy was created to combine otherwise 'warring parties' - the PM, the Chancellor, the Cabinet, the PM'S special team, and senior civil servants. Michael Barber reveals a fascinating insider and personal account of how the PMDU achieved so much, and provides a revealing picture of the major players, especially Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Edmund W. Gordon, Beatrice L. Bridglall and Aundra Saa Meroe (eds.)
Supplementary Education: the Hidden Curriculum of High Academic Achievement
Rowman & Littlefield, 2004, 370.111 GOR
This book makes the case and lays the conceptual foundation for the significance of supplementary education in reducing the academic achievement gap between majority students and students of color. It further elaborates on the idea of supplementary education, which is based on the assumption that high academic achievement is closely associated with exposure to family and community-based activities and learning experiences that occur outside of school in support of academic learning.

Roberto Managabeira Unger
Free Trade Reimagined: The World Division of Labor and the Method of Economics
Princeton University Press, 2007, 382.71 UNG
Free Trade Reimagined begins with a sustained criticism of the heart of the emerging world economy: the theory and practice of free trade. Roberto Mangabeira Unger does not, however, defend protectionism against free trade. Instead, he attacks and revises the terms on which the traditional debate between free traders and protectionists has been joined. Unger's intervention in this major contemporary debate serves as a point of departure for a proposal to rethink the basic ideas with which we explain economic activity. He suggests, by example as well as by theory, a way of understanding contemporary economies that is both more realistic and more revealing of hidden possibilities for transformation than are the established forms of economics. One message of the book is that we need not choose between accepting and rejecting globalization; we can have a different globalization. Unger will present a lunchtime lecture here at the RSA on Free Trade Reimagined on Thursday 19 November. Please click here for more information and to book your place.

400s – Language

500s – Natural Sciences & Mathematics

600s – Technology (Applied Sciences)

Helen Lewis and John Gertsakis (eds.)
Design + Enviroment: A Global Guide to Designing Greener Goods
Greenleaf, 2001 658.5752 LEW
This work helps the reader understand how and why design for environment (DfE) has become so critical to design. The authors show how to design a product that meets requirements for quality, cost, manufacturability and consumer appeal, while at the same time minimizing environmental impacts.

John Grant
The Brand Innovation Manifesto: How to Build Brands, Redefine Markets and Defy Conventions
John Wiley, 2006, 658.827 GRA
The days of the image brands are over, and ‘new marketing’ has gone mainstream. The world’s biggest companies are pursuing a post-advertising strategy, moving away from advertising and investing in leading edge alternatives. In the vanguard of the revolution has been John Grant, and in The Brand Innovation Manifesto, he redefines the nature of brands, showing why old models and scales no longer work and revealing that the key to success today is impacting people’s lifestyles (think Starbucks, iPod and eBay). At the heart of the book is the concept of the ‘brand molecule’ to which new cultural ideas can be constantly added to keep pace with change.

700s – The Arts

Derek Chong
Arts Management
Routledge, 2001, 700.68 CHO
Interest in aesthetics and organisation/management studies is growing at the start of the twenty first century, and this book offers a critical overview of arts management as a vital sub-discipline, addressing the artistic, managerial and social obligations of arts and cultural organisations operating in contemporary urban environs.

Brandon Taylor
Art for the Nation
Manchester University, 1999, 708.21 TAY
Art first became public in Britain through a series of interlocking relationships between national galleries, patrons, collections of art, and sections or classes of the population as a whole. This study concentrates on London, and analyzes the formation of the major national art institutions at its geographical and managerial centre. An image emerges of the character of official British culture and the audiences that it postulated and assumed. From the first public exhibitions in London in the 1760s through to the 1960s and beyond, a series of institutions either patronized by the monarch or administered directly by the state - or both - has set the tone for the manners and attitudes of the viewing public of the nation as a whole.

Jonathan Chapman (ed.)
Designers, Visionaries and Other Stories: a Collection of Sustainable Design Essays
Earthscan, 2007, 720.47 CHA
Designers, Visionaries and Other Stories unpacks the complex and crucial debates surrounding sustainable design to deliver a compelling manifesto for change, at a time of looming ecological crisis, mounting environmental legislations and limited sustainable design progress. This is a book about sustainable design, by the leading sustainable design thinkers, for creative practitioners of all disciplines - professionals, students and academics. This challenging book provides the reader with a rich resource of future visions, critical propositions, creative ideas and design strategies for working towards a sustainable tomorrow, today. It boldly presents alternative understandings of sustainable design, to curate a challenging, sometimes uncomfortable and always provocative collection of essays by some of the world's leading sustainable design thinkers. The result is an impacting anthology that reinvigorates the culture of critique that in previous years has empowered design with the qualities of social, environmental and economic revolution.

Christopher J. Kitching
Archive Buildings in the United Kingdom, 1993-2005
Phillimore & Co. Ltd, 2007, 725.150941 KIT
In two parts, both extensively illustrated with photographs and plans, this title will appeal to archivists, librarians, architects, engineers, planners, and the general reader. The first part is a guide to good practice in the design and construction of archive buildings, and the second part contains a number of case studies of individual buildings. The research for this book was jointly sponsored by The National Archives and the Society of Genealogists.

Stewart Walker
Sustainable by Design: Explorations in Theory and Practice
Earthscan, 2006, 745.2 WAL
Sustainable by Design offers a compelling and innovative, design-centred approach that explores both the meaning and practice of sustainable design, exploring the design process in the context of sustainability, and challenges conventional ways of defining, designing and producing functional objects. He discusses the personal design process, tacit knowledge, ephemeral design, experimental design, and the relationship between intellectual design criteria, physical expression and aesthetic experience. This book will introduce vital concepts to students and will inspire designers by providing a well-articulated basis for understanding the complexity and potential of sustainable design, and extolling the contribution of design to the creation of a more meaningful material culture.

800s – Literature

900s – Geography & History

Roy Porter
Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World
Penguin, 2001, 941.07 POR
For generations the focus for those wishing to understand the roots of the modern world has been France on the eve of the Revolution. Porter certainly acknowledges France's importance, but makes a case for considering Britain the true home of modernity - a country driven by an exuberance, diversity and power of invention comparable only to 20th-century America. Porter immerses the reader in a society which, recovering from the horrors of the Civil War and decisively reinvigorated by the revolution of 1688, had emerged as something new and extraordinary - a society unlike any other in the world. This explosion of activity left no one unchanged and created a society with many of the values we recognize and value today - sceptical, pleasure-obsessed, garrulous, innovative, meritocratic.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Featured Book - "The Story of Childhood"

Libby Brooks
The Story of Childhood: Growing Up in Modern Britain
305.230941 BRO

Touching on the same themes as the current work by the RSA Risk Commission into childhood is The Story of Childhood: Growing Up in Modern Britain, by Guardian journalist Libby Brooks, who evidently doesn’t believe that children should be seen and not heard. Her book is a vivid snapshot of the state of modern childhood, through portraits of nine very different modern kids. Their voices ring from the page: sporty, savvy nine-year-old Lois; Nicholas, nearly a genius and bound for public school; Adam, the free-ranging country boy; fifteen-year-old Laura, who hates her looks and was bullied badly at school; and Majid, a politics-fixated, McDonald’s-eating motormouth.

Perhaps most poignant of all are the portraits of those most vilified of modern childhood figures, a young offender, Ashley, and Lauren, a teenage mum. Brooks skilfully avoids the clichés, interweaving her depiction of the children’s lives with a measured overview of the social and political context of these children’s lives: the problems of developing role models for young boys, the politics of respect, the state of sex education and more.

Most of all she asks questions about a ‘generation bred in captivity’, and the world they live in. Brooks doesn’t shy away from the big terrors of childhood today, and the book is hugely enlightening on issues such as self-harming, bullying, child pornography, obesity and eating disorders. But it is also infused with joy, as the story is told in the irrepressible voices of children. By the end it is hard to disagree with the book’s six-year-old Rosie that ‘without children this world would be sad, this world would be empty.’ Out of the mouths of babes indeed.

To borrow a copy of The Story of Childhood: Growing Up in Modern Britain, please contact the RSA Library.