Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A different kind of book

...as Apple release the new 13-inch MacBook featuring the Intel Core Duo processors.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ambient findabilty...

...As the world gets interconnected being able to find what we are looking for becomes vital in a world where there is so much information. Google, blogging, the Wikipedia and Craigslist are changing the wat we find things. As computers get ever smaller and mobile technology means we are always reachable, business models will have to take account of search.

Business Week Peter Morville has written a book that should be required reading for anyone involved in the net and website design. Morville hopes that " as ambient findability becomes reality, we are able to offset the inherent dangers of group think and mob justice by empowering literate individuals with the ability to find and recognize the truth, make informed decisions, and when necessary act independently. I believe librarians have an important role to play in leading us towards this more desirable future." Digital Web

This is one of those books that I feel I need to read two or three times. The book is published by O'Reilly

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Watkins Books...

...one of my favourite bookshops.
"John Maurice Watkins, the founder of this bookshop, was a friend and disciple of H P. Blavatsky and was himself personally involved in seeing the first edition of The Secret Doctrine, her great metaphysical classic, through the press.
The ideal of founding the bookshop is said to have occurred to Mr Watkins in a conversation with Madame Blavatsky in which she lamented the fact that there was nowhere in London one could buy books on mysticism, occultism and metaphysics."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What did you do in your parallel world today?

...Dr. Michio Kaku is a Japanese American theoretical physicist who is a co-creator of string field theory. The Harvard graduate and professor at City College of New York is a well known author of popular science books and also has his own radio show. His many activities can be kept up with on his website.

Is the book "Parallel Worlds" science or science fiction? While reading it I had the uneasy feeling of being out of my depth. It seemed as if all the "Star Trek" episodes I had watched were about to become true. Now quantum mechanics is weird but it does make my PC and mobile phone work. Do I have to accept the scientific speculation behind it? Up to a point, yes. After all I can't do the theoretical work behind books like this. Biology I can do. Particle physics is a tad expensive.

I found this blog by Plato the proof that I was out of my depth. So what shall I say of my impression of the book? The multiverse seems a possibilty to me. The contradiction that the unity is more than one. Language does not seem to help much before the big bang (or after the big crunch for that matter.) So creation and nirvana are both possible. Yet we have to plan our way out of this doomed universe, that will no longer be there billions of years in the future. Ecology tries to teach us to value what we have here. Kaku's science seems to be ultimately pessimistic. Maybe at root it is based on some fallacy. Are we missing something mind bogglingly obvious?

At times like this I always fall back on the veil of Isis. She let's us know what we need to know, in order to grow. Yet she still holds sway over the ultimate mystery. I know, that's mysticism. Guilty as charged. At least it helps me sleep at nights.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The World is Flat...

...says Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times three time Pulitzer prize winner. According to Friedman changes in the world of economics and technology have begun to produce a level playing field with enormous consequences for the future of humanity. As I was reading this book a thought occurred to me. Ceri and I are taking part in this process as bloggers. What can we do that won't be outsourced? Information crunching is a cultural phenomenon. For some time now I wanted to do a book blog. Not sure of what to do with my own blogs as I'm busy in the backroom of Ceridwen Devi Media most of the time. I thought quite simply I'll turn my two blogs into book blogs. Review what I'm reading and publish on Blogger and Wordpress. Two birds with one stone.

Friedman seemed the obvious place to start. He "describes the unplanned cascade of technological and social shifts that effectively leveled the economic world, and “accidentally made Beijing, Bangalore and Bethesda next-door neighbors.” Today, “individuals and small groups of every color of the rainbow will be able to plug and play.” Friedman’s list of “flatteners” includes the fall of the Berlin Wall; the rise of Netscape and the dotcom boom that led to a trillion dollar investment in fiber optic cable; the emergence of common software platforms and open source code enabling global collaboration; and the rise of outsourcing, offshoring, supply chaining and insourcing. Friedman says these flatteners converged around the year 2000, and “created a flat world: a global, web-enabled platform for multiple forms of sharing knowledge and work, irrespective of time, distance, geography and increasingly, language."

The process of globalization produces winners and losers like anything else. Today the Latinos of America are out on the streets demanding more rights in some of the largest demonstrations seen since the civil rights movement. They are as much a part of the process as Wal-Mart and Google. They also need to find a voice. I was in Berlin when the Wall came down. I shall never forget those days. The feeling that something big and unique was about happen.

The trick is to get on top of all this and use the opportunities that are there. Beware of the hype though. I see a world emerging on different time scales according to the amout of access people have to all these new gizmos. The social dimension seems to be ignored. Look at the explosion of the NGO "industry." As we remember John Kenneth Galbraith, who died on Saturday at the age of 97, let's hope that some of his ideas, that went out of fashion for a number of years, can live on to help us cope with the consequences of all this change. Friedman has asked the question, but not found the answer.

"While The World Is Flat is not a classic like From Beirut to Jerusalem, it is still an enthralling read. To his great credit, Friedman embraces much of his flat world's complexity, and his reporting brings to vibrant life some beguiling characters and trends. If his book is marred by an exasperating reliance on the first person and a surplus of catch phrases (" 'Friedman,' I said to myself, looking at this scene, 'you are so twentieth-century. . . . You are so Globalization 2.0' "), it is also more lively, provocative and sophisticated than the overwhelming bulk of foreign policy commentary these days. We've no real idea how the 21st century's history will unfold, but this terrifically stimulating book will certainly inspire readers to start thinking it all through." wrote the "Washington Post."