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Connexity: How to Live in a Connected World Paperback – June 17, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Many books have been written about the implications of a globalized and interconnected civilization. But few have the range and depth of Geoff Mulgan's Connexity. The central issue Connexity addresses is the fundamental conflict that exists between the freedoms enjoyed by many, mainly in the Western world, and the growing economic interdependence of so many more worldwide. Mulgan, who is the founder of Demos, a liberal think tank based in London, and a member of Tony Blair's Policy Unit, writes, "Our problem is that freedom to behave as we would wish, without regard for our effects on others, runs directly counter to the other striking fact of the contemporary world: our growing dependence on other people. The world may never have been freer, but it has also never been so interdependent and interconnected. Only a small proportion of the world's population could now be self-sufficient. The rest of us depend on complex systems to deliver us water, food, justice, energy and health."

Mulgan probes the nature of the conflict between freedom and interdependence by examining everything from the nature of markets in a free society to the role of governments in a shrinking world and problems posed by economies which tend to ignore national boundaries. The author argues that reciprocity, or the golden rule, "is the most important idea for a developed democratic society." Whether you agree with Mulgan politics or not, you will find this book to be thought-provoking and timely. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards

Review

Don_t be fooled. This book_s title suggests a giddy technofuturist romp through the wired world. It_s not like that at all.

Mulgan, the director of a London think tank called Demos and a policy advisor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, would like to be seen as a serious political thinker. In Connexity, he examines the moral implications of living in a world of highly connected technical, financial, political and ecological systems.

It_s hard not to cheer Mulgan as he lists the damage – crime, drugs, pollution – caused by societies that focus only on the bottom line. It_s harder to swallow his prescription for change; he calls it the principle of reciprocity but it_s simply the kindergarten wisdom that your freedom to extend your arm stops at the tip of my nose.

Connexity is fun to read for its charming English manners. And the flattering way it assumes a shared literary culture in a discussion of technology will bring tears to your eyes (_Today, we automatically side with Anna Karenina_). Why, people do little else in the board rooms of Palo Alto.

– Michael Parsons -- From The Industry Standard

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (June 17, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875848508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875848501
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,463,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
Mulgan asks "are the achievements of freedom and the growth of independence compatible, or are we doomed to a classical tragedy in which our love of freedom destroys our capacity to be independent?" He then argues both sides of this question from an economic, sociological, and moral perspective.
In the end, the moral imperative of reciprocity (give and take, the golden mean) fuels his optimism for a self-organizing moral and societal order without the constraints of traditional methods of governance. However, Mulgan is no Pollyanna. He concludes with an optimistic view of the future tempered with a dash of realism. "The classical idea of progress as the unfolding of a grand plan or the expression of a higher intelligence is as doubtful as the much more recent faith that the world might have immanent properties that drive it towards complexity, integration, and self-organization. [...] There may be no destiny, and no certainty, nothing determined, only choices and chances. But life is all the better for that, because that is what leaves room for people to make their own history."
Mulgan's explanation of how we arrived at this point in the history of the world makes his analysis of the future more credible. For most of human history, a few traders linked the great trade centers but most economic life was local, face-to-face, and small scale. Larger social units were broadly defined and self-contained. Each unit could be mapped as a series of concentric circles of decreasing power radiating from the centers. Citizens at the centers of power were more cosmopolitan by virtue of their connectivity with other centers of power while residents of the distant regions were provincial.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is yet another tome on how and why it's best for us all to live together on the fragile planet. His ancient thesis articulated, Mulgan (part of the Blair Braintrust in Britain) takes the scatter-gun approach to, well, just about everything--and nothing in detail. Mulgan's book comes off as more a Statist Apologia than an interpretation and explanation of "connexity." He grapples little with the forces of "connexity," such as the Internet, and what they'll make of decidedly Modern inventions (such as the welfare state). Instead, Mulgan argues that some governments really can have positive effects on their people. No argument there, but how does "connexity" impact the role of government? That seems to be what Mulgan is trying to answer amid the pretensions to technological and sociological expertise. "Connexity" comes off as well in some ways as Mulgan's greatest fear: in one place he declares that too much freedom is a very bad thing. Again, no argument, but it begs numerous questions--apparently too many for Mulgan to answer. If you really want to know what's going on in the connected world, read Wacker and Taylor's "500-Year Delta." It takes nothing as given.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "yasar" on July 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
Connexity presents invaluable and different tastes from the windows of Mulgan. While reading this book, you feel yourself in the jungle of real life.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
First, this book is absolutely spectacular. Well thought out and thoroughly presented.
If you expect to interact with people and exchange information, you need to read this book. Being part of society is what makes societies and governments function. Without some level of connection/involvement between people, nothing would be accomplished.
Read and re-read... it will change the way you think, and even possibly make you a more enriched person...
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