Category Archives: Books & Films

December 12, 2017

Recommended Books in 2017: Anticipating and Grappling with Complex Change

How to anticipate change, understand it when we are in the midst of it, and grapple with its potential implications are terribly slippery subjects.  Over the course of 2017, I have recommended a number of new and slightly less new books that do a great job of putting these complexities into plain, elegant English, while …

October 12, 2017

If Platforms are Monopolies, Data is the New Oil

A Review of Platform Capitalism by Nick Srnicek A decade ago, it was not difficult to find exuberant claims for the internet as the engine of a new kind of economy. Some called it the sharing economy, others described it as grassroots or by other names. The point was that several centuries of industrial capitalism, …

April 4, 2017

Complexity, Explained: A Review of Overcomplicated, Technology at the Limits of Comprehension

If you haven’t yet read Samuel Arbesman’s Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension (Random House, 2016) I hope you will soon. This improbably short book does three things magnificently well: It explains the befuddling fact that we now live with technological systems so complex that even the engineers who built them do not necessarily understand their …

May 24, 2013

7 Necessary Narratives for the New Digital Age

In the future, nearly everyone will be connected to the Internet and to each other, claim Jared Cohen and Eric Schmidt in The New Digital Age. Mass connectivity will transform our relationships, our governments, our work, our bodies and the objects around us.  But even these dramatic transformations will not change the fact that we …

April 30, 2013

Let’s Celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of “A National Strategic Narrative”

National Strategic Narrative

This has been a tough spring for national cohesion in the United States. Automatic federal spending cuts called sequestration kicked in after Congress failed to agree on how to manage the federal budget. The Senate voted down a bill that would expand background checks for gun purchasers, despite strong support around the country.  And bombings …

December 15, 2012

Narrative for Survival: My Grandmother’s Story

Stories can save lives. In One Thousand and One Nights, Sheherezade uses her storytelling talents to end King Shahrayr’s plot to punish his unfaithful wife by punishing all of the women of his kingdom.  Having put to death the unfaithful Queen herself, the King embarks on a plan to marry a virgin of the Kingdom …

December 1, 2012

Intertextuality for Strategic Communication

The Power of Reference, Allusion and Quotation in Communication Two recent films, Skyfall and Anna Karenina, are made more intensely meaningful by their intentional intertextuality–their incorporation of previous iterations and interpretations of the story they are themselves telling.  Both offer insights into the ways communicators can benefit from the same kind of internal referentiality. The …

February 3, 2012

Behavioral Economics Go to War

Review of Behavioural Conflict, Why Understanding People and their Motivations Will Prove Decisive in Future Conflict, by Andrew Mackey and Steve Tatham I cannot think of any books about warfare’s future that come across as hard-hitting, full of actionable pragmatism, and deeply humane all at the same time.  But Behavioral Conflict: Why Understanding People and …

July 2, 2011

Review: “The End of the West: the Once and Future Europe”

English political theorist and former Labor Party MP David Marquand’s recently published The End of the West: the Once and Future Europe, comes at an opportune moment.   The Greek financial crisis, U.S. jibes at NATO, and the suggestion by disgruntled British conservative party members that the UK quit the EU foretells a continental reckoning at …