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The Plenitude: Creativity, Innovation, and Making Stuff (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life)

3.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262072892
ISBN-10: 0262072890
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Plenitude is the word of Silicon Valley polymath Gold for the limitless stuff produced to feed our consumer-focused economy, but this small, posthumous (Gold died in 2003) book reads more like his private notebook than a business guide. That's not a bad thing: Gold, a scientist, inventor and artist who worked at times for the toy company Mattel and the legendary Xerox PARC research labs, is good company. Based on a few of his lectures, this breezy book shares thoughts on creative hats Gold has worn, such as artist and engineer, and the worldviews they impose on practitioners (e.g., engineers like to solve problems while designers are contemptuous of artists for their detachment from the commercial). The later part of the book weighs consumerism's pros and cons, coming out in favor—where else could an inventor fall?—while offering valid critiques (e.g., so much of what we make and buy is ugly). Throughout, Gold displays casual insights—such as illustrating the sheer abundance of the plenitude by pointing out the variety of shirts in an audience and the work that went into each—and pads this very skinny book with his own goofy cartoons. The result is a fun splash in some of the important ideas behind modern consumption. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

...a wonderful read if you have any interest at all in art or science or design or engineering or creativity or innovation or the morality of our material culture or managing any of those people or processes...Some books are so good that you know you'll read them again, and you know this by the time you finish. With this book, I knew by page 25.

(Computerworld)

Gold displays casual insights such as illustrating the sheer abundance of the plenitude by pointing out the variety of shirts in an audience and the work that went into each and pads this very skinny book with his own goofy cartoons. The result is a fun splash in some of the important ideas behind modern consumption.

(Publisher's Weekly)

Gold's nimble mind unpacks the contradictions and consequences of our stuff-clotted world, quoting a friend's warning: 'We should be careful to make the world we actually want to live in.' This is not the traditional anti-materialist rant and that helps make it a valuable rumination on a prevailing 21st-century condition.

(The Morning News)

Rich Gold was one of the most creative and unusual minds of our era. His unique vision lives on in this book.

(Alan Kay )

This is a gem that will shape your way of seeing and thinking about the world forever. Rich was one of the true visionaries of Xerox PARC and this unique book, in both its form and content, provides a window into a brilliant and incredibility imaginative mind at work.

(John Seely Brown, Former Chief Scientist, Xerox Corp and former director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and co-author of The Social Life of Information)

This little book, with its simple logic and language and unforgettable, whimsical drawings, will change the way its readers look at the world around them.

(Susan Salter Reynolds LA Times)
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Product Details

  • Series: Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life
  • Hardcover: 136 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (August 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262072890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262072892
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #721,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lisner Auditorium at GWU in DC hosted a conference "Confronting the Global Triple Crisis: Climate Change, Peak Oil and Global Resource Depletion & Extinction" Sept. 14-16, 2007 sponsored by the IPS and IFG. With the talks from this conference still reverberating in my head, I find "The Plenitude: Creativity, Innovation, and Making Stuff" cutting edge, and had Rich Gold been alive he should have been a speaker at that conference. But to understand the connection between the themes of the conference and the book, you have to read the entire book.

The real connection to a prophetic and visionary view of where we are as a society and culture with lots of "stuff", comes at the end of the book.
One of my climate change friends saw my book and asked what I was reading. A few chapters into the book, I brushed her off with "its a book about innovation".

Everyone I know is now Googling "The Story of Stuff" to see an incredible short online cartoon/video by Annie Leonard which was a highlight at the Triple Crisis conference and is now viral online (among climate change activists). For example, Maryland House Member, State Delegate Liz Bobo told me in passing at a coffee shop this AM that she just got the link to "the Story of Stuff and asked me if I had it. Everyone is talking about this video, and all those folks will love this book!

So I told the Maryland State Delegate, and I am now telling all my climate change friends to read "The Plentitude", Rich Gold's brilliant confessional, philosophical, moral agonizing about how to live and create. Its short history on innovation helps us understand how we reached our current crisis.
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By J. Giles on February 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really wish I could sit down and have a beer with Rich Gold. Read this book if you are like me, and wear more than one "hat" (I am a biologist with an art degree who likes to weld and rebuild old cars-oh and I'm female). Rich gives one ideas about how to maximize one's life's work, and to be true to one's inner artist. He describes the world of technology and innovation in a totally fresh way. Brilliant. In my opinion, one of the great thinkers of our time.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book, and I thought it was wonderful. It's refreshingly short; the author doesn't pad the book with any excess, so the idea density is great enough that you get fresh thoughts with some reliability. I'm struck by how relevant Gold's insights are more than a decade after the book came out. It's written in a fun, casual voice, and the ideas feel like carry real weight. This is a book I intend to return to.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book woke me up from a 30 year slumber. It brought me back to the "anti-materialist" discussions we had in college and grad school. Really makes one pause and reflect on our contribution to making all this stuff. Cf. dinner table discussion in the movie "Home for the Holidays".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Far ahead of his time, Rich Gold left the world a summary of his life's work, his philosophy and his participation in creating the technology that now dominates our world. Also, his cartooning is unique and delightful.
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