On September 18 I blogged a book review of Steven Johnson's Emergence. I was excited for the publishing of the book, and looking forward to its success.
But as that date suggests, Steven found himself a victim of some rather unfortunate timing. The book's promotional efforts fell by the wayside in light of some obviously more compelling events.
But now, nearly 6 months later, Emergence is experiencing a resurgence. I more officially reviewed it for the inaugural issue of New Architect. Jason's been talking it up in the context of bottom-up journalism. And Steven is keynoting O'Reilly's Emerging Technology Conference, and is featured in a smart interview here.
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Steven's book is good, and I'm a fan of his writing. Unfortunately, for a fan, there's a bunch in Emergence that he's published elsewhere and is recycling here.
Also, if you already have a slightly-better-than-layman's understanding of this topic, you'll probably not only already know most of what Steven covers, but you'll probably know it from the same sources that Steven cites.
Still, a fun, short read on one of those subjects that once you get it you see it everywhere.
Posted by Andrew @ 02/28/2002 01:23 AM PST [link to this comment]
did you have to use the word "blog" as a verb? i was really thinking this was the last place on the Web where i could avoid that, but no. I know you invented the word and all, but really, some things ought to be sacred. like verbs. i'm so sick of all the weblog coverage. if one more person tells me it's a like a new form of journalism, or that it's changing the way we communicate, i'm just going to haul off and smack 'em -- even if it is true.
sorry. in a pissy mood today. on a more topical note, i thought "emergence" was excellent, despite the fact that it wasn't as well organized as i felt its arguments required (as a friend pointed out to me, it reads a lot like an extended riff off somebody's graduate class notes -- it's like the guy majored in semiotics or something...) not to mention that i hate it when footnotes are bunched up at the end of a book and referenced by the beginning of the sentence rather than by page and paragraph -- footnotes are important, dammit, and idiot publishers who push them to the back of the book in order to make it seem more consumer-friendly should be shoved down the elevator shaft of some random overfurnished midtown office building. these are the people that tried to de-british harry potter by removing all references to "non-american" items -- like turkish delight! because we don't eat that here?! because american kids only understand hamburgers and hot dogs? who *are* these people? idiots, all of them.
sorry. pissy, did i mention?
which is not to say that johnson doesn't make his points, or that he doesn't make them well -- his arguments are sound, and i bought 'em pretty much whole. compare that to, say, "the tipping point," which is in a similar space socio-technologically -- while the arguments in "the tipping point" are better organized, conceptually it doesn't do nearly as good a job of making or proving its points.
speaking of points: there wasn't one in that last paragraph. sigh. i will say that i thought that johnson's idea of extending the concept of "the medium and the message" (or the medium is the message, or the medium is the massage, or the medium ate the message, or whatever) to "medium, message, and ruleset" was particularly brilliant.
Posted by Lane @ 02/28/2002 03:39 PM PST [link to this comment]
Do you really have to drop your capitalization, Lane? I thought this was the one place on the web I could avoid that, but no. Some things are sacred, like rules of spelling and punctuation. If one more person tells me it's a new form of writing, I'll haul off and smack them.
I also found it damn annoying that Johnson put his footnotes at the end, but organized them by page number instead of numbering each one. So you never know if there's a note (an endnote,really) unless you flip back there to the section "Notes to pages 181-200: paragraph starting 'My Semiotics professor always told me....'".
I also had someone tell me it seemed like the best Master's Thesis he'd ever read: appealing and interesting, just without hardcore research or breaking much new ground.
Posted by Andrew @ 03/01/2002 01:48 AM PST [link to this comment]
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