Tuesday, November 1, 2011
crowds / switch / thingbooks + a paradox
pick 3 books
in October, when i looked for a book with stories from the Ruhr region to take along on the short trip there, i stumbled across an offer i couldn't resist: Amazon Germany invited to "get 3 english books for 15$”. there was a list of about 150 books to choose from. i browsed it, and after some forth and back, finally arrived at 3 non-fiction books:
- The Wisdom of Crowds
- Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
- Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
the Crowd book, that was inspired by the whole theme of identity and crowd, which also reflected in the blueprintreview theme issue: #26 Identity. there is a long note (or rather: dialogue) on the process included, which both picks up on both themes: Identity and the Crowd, here a quote:
....what surprised me is the positive view of crowds: “The second obvious feature of crowd phenomena is that they are not only shaped by society but that they in turn bring about social change.”
and here the next surprise: the introducion even moves to the theme of identity: “In other words, the psychological processes which relate society to crowd action are those of identity."
the main point of the Crowd book is that we live in a society that still believes single experts are the ones that are most qualified when it comes to making decisions and developing future scenarios (and this goes both for science and economy: doctors and CEOs), while case studies generally show that the best results are achieved by diverse groups under the condition that all group members give their input. will look for a quote that sums it up, but what i thought interesting is that this relates back to the crowd quote above: the positive view of crowds, and their quality to induce social change.
which now leads to the other book from theme "Switch - How to Change Things When Change is Hard". it's a book that offers some new, surprising approaches to deal with difficult situations. a key of it is: when the problem is big and complex, we tend to look for a big and complex solution - or give up by the task. while the key might be a small solution. here's an excerpt, a story that moved me when i read it, as it includes a simple – but very unusual question – to adress and improve difficult situations: a Switch story.
deja-vue & non-fiction
and some additional notes: when i logged into Goodreads to add the "Switch" book to my list of "currently reading", the latest review popped up again: turned out, it's from Jessi Carty, and seeing it, i remembered reading it. so it seems, i hadn't consciously remembered the book, but my memory picked up on. (here's the link: Switch on Goodreads)
also, looking at the books, i realized all 3 i picked are non-fiction books. which is a curious category, seen like that: defined by negation. in Germany, the word for non-fiction books is: "Sachbuch": thing-book. novels are "Romane".
and more non-fiction, in another format: yesterday, while doing some non-thinking-required repetitive photo work, i let youtube clips play, from the TEDtalks - the "ideas worth spreading" conference (here's more: TED conference). there are so many, and some are so good. like this one, about all the choices our western world offers product-wise and life-wise not necessarily makes for a happy life, and some scientific reflections on that: Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice
another paradox: little-known bestselling facts
looking at the title theme of those talks: "Ideas worth spreading", and at the books - one thing that surprised me: both books were New York Times bestsellers a while ago. still, the studies in them and the summed-up knowledge - despite all the books sold - seems to be remain passive, on the page. i haven't seen it picked up in magazine articles / analysis. seems the hardest thing in this fast spinning world is still to question the status quo and to overcome long-grown beliefs and systems.