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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 31 reviews
on August 26, 2009
This is the second consecutive book of Tyler's that I've pre-ordered on Amazon, and I think it is even better than his last book. The unifying themes seem to mystify many who attempt a description of the wide ranging coverage, but I'd hazard a summary thus: 1- Neurodiversity, with particular attention to the Asperger continuum, suggests that many cognitive styles come with special advantages; while there's no exact description of what characterizes Asperger-ish styles, the tendency to generate an order on some specialized domain is key. 2- From the vantage of interiority, the subjective experience of feasting on information, there's a huge win today in the generation of nuggets mined and distilled to brief moments. 3- With great compassion and equanimity, Tyler advocates a kinder re-assessment of the drift toward info-gluttony (he uses the term 'infovore', although I wish he had adopted George Miller's older neologism 'informavore'). For those seeking more information about how an Asperger mind perceives the world, read Daniel Tammett's new book, Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind.
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on June 1, 2011
This entire book could have been condensed to a Tweet.
Embrace your autistic side and bring order to your life.

What a waste of $3.65.
I visit Tyler's blog every day and find it very useful and insightful.
This book, however, should never have been published.
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on August 3, 2009
Tyler Cowen should have followed his own advice and reduced this meandering 228 page book to a 6000 word essay.

What exactly is this book about, and what has it got to do with economics? The main thread of the book is that "autistic cognitive style", by which is meant an ability to focus on details and ordering or arrangement bits of information, is an under appreciated virtue. Cowen suggests that most formal education is about inculcating that approach anyway. Cowen further suggests that a number of real and fictional people (like Sherlock Holmes) are extreme users of that cognitive style and have been very successful. What is the connection with economics? Very little indeed. Cowen touches upon behavioral economics, mainly to suggest that Adam Smith, the father of modern economics might have been a tad autistic and that autistics are less prone to make irrational choices. As regards how to use this style to make a living, well Cowen doesn't have much to say about that, although as a self-diagnosed "autistic" he makes a good living as an economist.

Firstly I do not buy the idea that people who are good with ordering their universe must have an autistic cognitive style. This presumes that people cannot use this style for work and other styles for other activities. There are an awful lot of scientists and engineers who are very good at what they do, yet would not be characterized as being more autistic overall than the average person in the population.

Secondly, does this idea of autistic style actually translate into something useful? While there is a lot of talk about the value of data analysis, to a large extent much of it is relatively easy to do, and hence automate. This means that jobs in this area will be transferable to low wage countries. Conversely, it is possible that the sort of jobs that will be in demand will be more high-touch, more right brain dominated.

Bottom line for me was that this book says nothing substantial about economics, nothing substantial about how an autistic cognitive style would be of value in making a living and becoming prosperous. It is very hard not to see this as Cowen's self justification about how he became prosperous because he associates himself with borderline autism.
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on August 8, 2013
According to Tyler Cowen, it's a great time to be alive. And who could disagree with that? Thanks to the digital economy we have more choices when it comes to what to consume and what to do for our work (although others like Barry Schwartz have argued that perhaps we have too many choices now). Anyway, Cowen's book, Create Your Own Economy, is largely about how to navigate this new world and the digital economy.

The book, however, veered wildly from what I expected. The following quote from the preface is what I thought the book would be about.

In down times people exercise more, eat out less and cook more, and engage in more projects for self improvement and self education. Usage at public libraries is up and people are spending more time on the internet; once you've paid for your connection most of the surfing is free. These trends are more important than most of us realize and in this book I will tell you why. I will tell you why they are not just short-run trends but why they presage something much deeper about our future.

The book surely takes an interesting twist from the preface though. At the beginning of the first chapter, Cowen, who runs a popular economics blog called Marginal Revolution, states that a Marginal Revolution reader once asked him if he had Asperger's syndrome or high-functioning autism.

This question relates to one of the surprising, yet central themes of the book, i.e., autism. In one sense, the book can be read as a cultural defense of autism and with a focus on the general misconceptions about autism. I definitely wasn't expecting to read a book focused on autism when I picked this book up; however, I still enjoyed it. Cowen claims that autism is not a separate condition out there from which a few suffer, but rather it's one point on a scale he calls "neurodiversity". We all fall on this scale to varying degrees and I was surprised to learn that I actually have some autistic like tendencies. Near the end of the book, Cowen states, "Many autistics might in fact do better socially or in their careers if the world views them as "eccentrics" rather than autistics."

The other central theme of the book can be summed up by the claim that," Fundamentally the relationship between human minds and human cultures is changing." Cowen never uses the term, but he alludes to a world that is becoming a culturally predominant information economy. "Creating your own economy", then, is about thriving in the world of the internet and modern technology. The diversity of informational and cultural products available via technology is startling. Cowen, however, argues that this is a great thing that ultimately enhances our freedom and our experiences of being human. Of course, he also argues that the cognitive strengths of autistic individuals allow them to thrive in this environment.

This book touches on a wide gamut of topics from economics, psychology, metaphysics, epistemology, moral philosophy, and astronomy. The end of the book leaves you with an ambiguous sense of the book's ultimate purpose.
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on August 10, 2010
This book was interesting, but I was pretty disappointed when about halfway through the book I realized the book had trailed off from the topics that had been most interesting to me - how we begin to organize and understand information in the context of our relatively new access to information. I expected a little more depth and detail into what "mental ordering" might actually look like, and different examples of ordinary people undertaking this activity. Instead, this book focuses on autism and neurodiversity, and Cowen definitely covered the topic with flair, discussing how autistics processing of information leads to different outcomes. I guess, in a way, I walked away having learned more, just because the topic was completely unexpected.
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on April 7, 2016
Offers no tangible advice for creating one's own economy. If anything, advises adapting oneself to status quo economy. Very bait and switch. Also, author's speculations about autistic people are so far off base as to be risible.
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on August 24, 2009
A terrific exploration of how humans can and are coping with the Digital Age and the rise of information abundance in particular. Cowen takes an optimistic view of these changes and suggests that, even if the Internet and digital gadgets are changing our culture and minds, it is generally for the better. Although the book wanders at times, Cowen is always entertaining and informative.

If you like this book and Cowen's general worldview, you'll also want to check out Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody" as well as the work of Don Tapscott, Chris Anderson, and perhaps even Yochai Benkler. For a contrasting view, I recommend Andrew Keen's "Cult of the Amateur," Lee Siegel's "Against the Machine," and John Freeman's upcoming "Tyranny of E-Mail."
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