Books: I listened to the audiobook “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations” by Thomas L. Friedman. From Goodreads (here):
In his most ambitious work to date, Thomas L. Friedman shows that we have entered an age of dizzying acceleration--and explains how to live in it. Due to an exponential increase in computing power, climbers atop Mount Everest enjoy excellent cell-phone service and self-driving cars are taking to the roads. A parallel explosion of economic interdependency has created new riches as well as spiraling debt burdens. Meanwhile, Mother Nature is also seeing dramatic changes as carbon levels rise and species go extinct, with compounding results.
How do these changes interact, and how can we cope with them? To get a better purchase on the present, Friedman returns to his Minnesota childhood and sketches a world where politics worked and joining the middle class was an achievable goal. Today, by contrast, it is easier than ever to be a maker (try 3-D printing) or a breaker (the Islamic State excels at using Twitter), but harder than ever to be a leader or merely "average." Friedman concludes that nations and individuals must learn to be fast (innovative and quick to adapt), fair (prepared to help the casualties of change), and slow (adept at shutting out the noise and accessing their deepest values). With vision, authority, and wit, Thank You for Being Late establishes a blueprint for how to think about our times.
From the NY Times review (here):
Now he has written his most ambitious book — part personal odyssey, part common-sense manifesto. “Thank You for Being Late” has two overt aims. First, Friedman wants to explain why the world is the way it is — why so many things seem to be spinning out of control, especially for the Minnesota white middle class he grew up in. And then he wants to reassure us that it is basically going to be O.K. In general the explanation is more convincing than the reassurance. But as a guide for perplexed Westerners, this book is very hard to beat.
Friedman argues that man is actually a fairly adaptable creature. The problem is that our capacity to adapt is being outpaced by a “supernova,” built from three ever faster things: technology, the market and climate change. That sounds like a predictable list, but Friedman digs cleverly into each one. For instance, on technology he argues convincingly that 2007, which saw the arrival of the iPhone, Android and Kindle, was the year when software began, in the words of Netscape’s founder, “eating the world”; he introduces us to vital obscure bits, like GitHub and Hadoop; he points out that if Moore’s law (that the power of microchips would double about every two years) had applied to the capabilities of cars, not computer chips, then the modern descendant of the 1971 Volkswagen Beetle would travel at 300,000 miles per hour, cost 4 cents and use one tank of gasoline in a lifetime…..
From the Rolling Stone review (here):
…. Friedman's great anti-gift is his ability to use many words when only a few are necessary. He became famous as a newspaper columnist for taking simple one-sentence observations like, "Wow, everyone has a cell phone these days," and blowing them out into furious 850-word trash-fires of mismatched imagery and circular argument.
The double-axel version of this feat was to then rewrite that same column over and over again, in the same newspaper, only piling on more incongruous imagery and skewing rhetoric to further stoke that one thought into an even higher and angrier fire.
For nearly two decades now, Friedman has been telling us that something big is happening, technology is growing at a rate beyond the ability of humans to adapt (this is where the part about noticing everyone has a cell phone comes in), and that we have to stop doing things the old way and take a brave step into the future. ….
From the Slate review (here):
…. As for Friedman himself, he is who we always knew he was: a diligent neoliberal stenographer; a cheerleader for billion-dollar corporations; a leading exponent of a brand of bigfoot journalism that deigns to mention ordinary people only insofar as their lives offer anecdotal support for some broader thesis. His book will continue to sell even though the author paraphrases old columns without making clear that that’s what he’s doing, even though at one point he spends an entire page blockquoting a transcript of someone else’s TED talk. He is an optimist insofar as he is sure that he will certainly thrive at any speed.