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Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age [Kindle Edition]

Steven Johnson
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

Combining the deft social analysis of Where Good Ideas Come From with the optimistic arguments of Everything Bad Is Good for You, New York Times bestselling author and one of the most inspiring visionaries of contemporary culture, Steven Johnson, maps the ways a connected world will be both different and better.



Steven Johnson proposes that a new model of political change is on the rise transforming everything from local government to classrooms to health care. It’s a compelling new political worldview that breaks with traditional categories of liberal or conservative thinking. Johnson explores this innovative vision through a series of fascinating narratives: from the “Miracle on the Hudson” to the planning of the French railway system; from the battle against malnutrition in Vietnam to a mysterious outbreak of strange smells in downtown Manhattan; from underground music video artists to the invention of the Internet itself. At a time when the conventional wisdom holds that the political system is hopelessly gridlocked with old ideas, Future Perfect makes the timely and uplifting case that progress is still possible.




Editorial Reviews

Review

"[A]n interesting book, if you want to be optimistic about the future, by Steven Johnson, a great science writer." – Bill Clinton, speaking at The Health Matters conference

"Future Perfect provides an informative, tech-savvy and provocative vision of a new and more democratic public philosophy. It's a breath of fresh air in an age of gridlock, cynicism and disillusionment.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“Mr. Johnson envisions a new political movement that embraces the potential of peer networks to improve government, medicine, education and journalism, among much else. He distinguishes ‘peer progressives’ from both libertarians and liberals. The former have too much faith in markets and too little in government, he says, and the latter vice versa. Peer progressives, though, believe that good can be accomplished by all organizations, in any combination, if they harness the power of peer networks.” — Wall Street Journal

“In clear and engaging prose, Johnson writes about this emerging movement . . . Future Perfect is a buoyant and hopeful book. Given the inability of our government to enact worthwhile change, and the near guarantee that Washington’s gridlock will only worsen regardless of which party wins this November, we’re going to need all the help we can get. Future Perfect reminds us we already have the treatment. We just need to use it.” — Boston Globe

“Forceful argument for a new politics modeled on the structure of the Internet. A thought-provoking, hope-inspiring manifesto.”—Kirkus Reviews
 

“A wide-ranging sketch of possibilities...frequently inspiring. Above all, it's exciting to reflect on the possibility that the many achievements of the Silicon Valley revolution might be compatible, rather than in tension, with a progressive focus on social justice and participatory democracy.”—The Guardian (UK)
 

“Fascinating and compelling...Stimulating and challenging, Johnson’s thought-provoking ideas steer us steadily into the future.”—Publishers Weekly

 

About the Author

Steven Johnson is the author of seven bestsellers, including Where Good Ideas Come From, The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, and Everything Bad Is Good for You, and is the editor of the anthology The Innovator’s Cookbook. He is the founder of a variety of influential websites—most recently, outside.in—and writes for Time, Wired, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He lives in Marin County, California, with his wife and three sons.

Product Details

  • File Size: 655 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead; Reprint edition (September 18, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0085DP4OG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,136 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(27)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising 1/3 disappointing 2/3 October 12, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
The first third of the book contains an interesting and highly readable popularisation of recent scientific texts on the role of networks in social organisation. Unfortunately the last two thirds of the book are filled with highly enthusiastic and uncritical examples of how these network structures might change various fields of society. Mainly these case studies fall short of valid analyses since they create false dichotomies between network structures, market structures and hierarchies. Instead of telling the more differentiated tale that network structures increasingly supplement traditional forms of social organisation the cases push the more sensationalist tale that network structures will replace traditional structures. For more balanced accounts of the phenomenon see for example: Bruce Bimber, Andrew Flanagin, Cynthia Stohl (Collective Action in Organizations: Interaction and Engagement in an Era of Technological Change (Communication, Society and Politics)), Andrew Chadwick ([...]) or Dave Karpf (The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy (Oxford Studies in Digital Politics)).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Invitation to Think Differently November 1, 2012
Format:Hardcover
Future Perfect is an optimistic book about technology, society, and the future. That's remarkable in itself, since pessimistic (or at least cautionary) books tend to outnumber optimistic ones, but what's even more remarkable is the care and precision with which Johnson makes his case. The new communications technologies, he argues, are significant less for what they do than for what their capabilities enable us to do, if we choose to do it.

The first of the book's two sections lays out its central premise: that distributed "peer networks" allowing the free flow of information between diverse individuals are a powerful force for social progress. decentralized networks are a powerful tool for facilitating interaction between individuals, and thus for social progress. It concludes: "We have a theory of peer networks. We have the practice of building them. And we have results. We know that peer networks can work in the real world. The task now is to discover how far they can take us." The second, longer section - a series of thematic chapters on subjects like journalism, technology, and government - makes good on that promise. It presents case studies that show what peer networks have already accomplished, and contemplates what they might accomplish in the future.

Johnson's goal, in Future Perfect is not to write a primer on the theory of networks, an analysis of how distributed networks function, or a history of distributed networks (though he touches, expertly but wearing his expertise lightly, on all those subjects). Nor is his goal to predict the future: The potential applications he describes for peer networks are presented as possibilities, not certainties.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As an extreme technophile, I am certainly a tad biased in writing this review. However, Johnson's observations really gave a philosophical underpinning to the movement that the Internet has created. His argument is that the Internet makes information cheaper, which in turn allows "peers" to share data and information, rather than information coming down from a hierarchy. When innovation comes from the edges of the network, rather than the center, then the full power of the network is unleashed. Though detailed analysis and countless examples, he shows how the Internet is making this possible. However, I think he also comes across very balanced. He pulls examples not just from the last 20 years, but also sometimes from centuries ago to illustrate his point. The "peer progressive" mentality was not created by the Internet, but the Internet has enabled it to spread in a way never before possible. The writing and stories were thoroughly captivating as well.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I very much enjoyed reading Johnson's musings on the promise of peer networks and emergent forms of connection. I especially liked the perspective that this growing peer philosophy is neither Big Government nor Big Corporation, nor does it fit neatly into either of our dominate political platforms. It is indeed something altogether different. This aspect of the book was inspiring and refreshing.

However, despite his appeals that this "peer" revolution is not simply net-utopianism, the majority of Johnson's examples of peer-networked success were drawn from web related projects. If, however, we are learning from the Internet as a model as he says, maybe the dearth of non-web examples in Future Perfect suggests they are still emerging and evolving.

Additionally I really wished he had included a chapter on energy. There was almost no mention of climate change in this brief book. While tackling some "pressing" problems such as election finance reform, democracy, business, and education, Johnson overlooks one of the most centralized (non-distributed) platforms in our country: our energy grid. Energy seems like hanging fruit for this book, and its a disappointment to read 20 pages about KickStarter instead...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
same as above
Published 14 days ago by Gary Jack Brown
1.0 out of 5 stars even the cover annoyed me
those who can, do. those who can't, teach. those who can't even, speculate. those who can't be bothered to consider a possible audience, write books like this.
Published 5 months ago by G. Damiani
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I hoped
Steven Johnson writes well. His books sit better with me than Malcolm Gladwell's books. Where Gladwell tries to push a point beyond where it can logically be pushed, Johnson takes... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Edward Durney
2.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating conjecture, weak support
Future Perfect fails to fully connect its three themes: that society does not readily recognize incremental improvements; that the Internet and Baran networks enable more effective... Read more
Published 7 months ago by PJH
5.0 out of 5 stars Another expose of the future from Johnson
If you enjoyed Emergence then you will definitely enjoy Future Perfect. It leads on directly from the ant colonies of Emergence to the problems facing political systems today, but... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Graham K. Burdis
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Primer for Understanding the Information Age
In reading some of the other, thoughtful reviews of this book, I realize that my initial, unrestrained enthusiasm should be a little more qualified. Read more
Published 7 months ago by McGillicuddy E. Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring book
Future Perfect is an inspiring book. It is well written and easy to read and the author himself is able to convey to the reader is enthusiasm about the topics he deals with. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Michele Dibattista
4.0 out of 5 stars Progressively Peer
Imagine gardens of roses located in every country or territory in the world. Then, imagine you are a bumble bee.

You can go sample any rose anywhere in the world. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Susan Berry
4.0 out of 5 stars Doubt the importance of platforms? Read this.
Johnson again delivers with another big idea. I'm a big fan of platforms, having written The Age of the Platform: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Have Redefined Business. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Phil Simon
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Riveting and engaging. It made me think about a lot of things and to help craft a future for my business.
Published 16 months ago by Sean Flaherty
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More About the Author

Steven Johnson is the best-selling author of seven books on the intersection of science, technology and personal experience. His writings have influenced everything from the way political campaigns use the Internet, to cutting-edge ideas in urban planning, to the battle against 21st-century terrorism. In 2010, he was chosen by Prospect magazine as one of the Top Ten Brains of the Digital Future.

His latest book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, was a finalist for the 800CEORead award for best business book of 2010, and was ranked as one of the year's best books by The Economist. His book The Ghost Map was one of the ten best nonfiction books of 2006 according to Entertainment Weekly. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Steven has also co-created three influential web sites: the pioneering online magazine FEED, the Webby-Award-winning community site, Plastic.com, and most recently the hyperlocal media site outside.in, which was acquired by AOL in 2011. He serves on the advisory boards of a number of Internet-related companies, including Meetup.com, Betaworks, and Nerve.

Steven is a contributing editor to Wired magazine and is the 2009 Hearst New Media Professional-in-Residence at The Journalism School, Columbia University. He won the Newhouse School fourth annual Mirror Awards for his TIME magazine cover article titled "How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live." Steven has also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and many other periodicals. He has appeared on many high-profile television programs, including The Charlie Rose Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He lectures widely on technological, scientific, and cultural issues. He blogs at stevenberlinjohnson.com and is @stevenbjohnson on Twitter. He lives in Marin County, California with his wife and three sons.

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