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In the tradition of Being Digital and The Tipping Point, Steven Johnson, acclaimed as a "cultural critic with a poet's heart" (The Village Voice), takes readers on an eye-opening journey through emergence theory and its applications.

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
A VOICE LITERARY SUPPLEMENT TOP 25 FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
AN ESQUIRE MAGAZINE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

Explaining why the whole is sometimes smarter than the sum of its parts, Johnson presents surprising examples of feedback, self-organization, and adaptive learning. How does a lively neighborhood evolve out of a disconnected group of shopkeepers, bartenders, and real estate developers? How does a media event take on a life of its own? How will new software programs create an intelligent World Wide Web?

In the coming years, the power of self-organization -- coupled with the connective technology of the Internet -- will usher in a revolution every bit as significant as the introduction of electricity. Provocative and engaging, Emergence puts you on the front lines of this exciting upheaval in science and thought.

Topics: The Internet, Computer Programming, Evolution, Popular Science, Communication, Web Development, Inspirational, Realism, and Informative

Published: Scribner on
ISBN: 9780743218269
List price: $13.99
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Complexity told in simple way. Good read on self-organisational bottom-up intelligence. Interesting references on computer science, and urban plan. Giving the fact it has been written in 2001 is still accurate. Internet development speeded up tremendously from those years, but predictions still make sense. Would be interesting to read emergency 2.0more
I came across this book while browsing the stacks at my local library. Although written in 10 years ago, I found the concepts to be relevant still today. The author covered a wide range of topics from ants to city planning to game theory to music through which he wove the ideas of emergent behavior, negative feedback, distributed intelligence, patterns and rules. It was a fun and worthwhile read about topics that I find fascinating.Of particular interest was the end of the book about consciousness. I was not familiar with the other minds theory of consciousness which essentially suggests that our ability to consider how a situation appears to another led to our self-awareness. The study with 3 and 4 year olds that drove this point home was particularly interesting as it underscores how the mind develops and becomes self-aware.As a Web developer, I began to wonder if the Web could become emergent. I came to the conclusion that it's not possible in its current state. It needs more structure and is inherently disorganized due to its architecture. According to Johnson, the key missing ingredient is feedback- no web page knows what other pages are pointing to it without effort. All connections are one-way. I suspect this lack of two-way connections is why Google, and search engines in general, are so dominant. We literally could not effectively use the information on the Web without these tools today.more
This is incredibly engaging and interesting, and is confirming ideas about which I already had some inklings about the general outlines of. I think that emergence may well shape up to be the defining idea of the next few decades. It seems to have its tentacles in a lot of different and disparate fields and problems, at any rate. I want to know more, though this is an excellent starting point.more
I find the concept of emergence, where simple sets of rules applied to large-scale systems can result in complex high-order organization, the most famous being an ant colony, where simple pheromone signals feed back on themselves to create what appears to be a well organized whole. I was expecting something a bit more technical, like a popular account of the current state of research, but he spent a lot more time talking about emergence in general and where it shows up in our lives and in the world around us. I did find the last couple chapters very fascinating, though, where he talked about emergence in the online community. As I was reading it (in July 2010), there were several things he talked about as possibilities that are now taken for granted, like what would become Google's search ranking algorithms, Netflix's movie suggestions and direct streaming, social networking, and other crowd-sourcing sites. About halfway through the chapter I looked at the publication date because of this and was pretty shocked to see that it was 9 years old.All in all not a bad book, but not quite what I was expecting or looking for.more
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Reviews

Complexity told in simple way. Good read on self-organisational bottom-up intelligence. Interesting references on computer science, and urban plan. Giving the fact it has been written in 2001 is still accurate. Internet development speeded up tremendously from those years, but predictions still make sense. Would be interesting to read emergency 2.0more
I came across this book while browsing the stacks at my local library. Although written in 10 years ago, I found the concepts to be relevant still today. The author covered a wide range of topics from ants to city planning to game theory to music through which he wove the ideas of emergent behavior, negative feedback, distributed intelligence, patterns and rules. It was a fun and worthwhile read about topics that I find fascinating.Of particular interest was the end of the book about consciousness. I was not familiar with the other minds theory of consciousness which essentially suggests that our ability to consider how a situation appears to another led to our self-awareness. The study with 3 and 4 year olds that drove this point home was particularly interesting as it underscores how the mind develops and becomes self-aware.As a Web developer, I began to wonder if the Web could become emergent. I came to the conclusion that it's not possible in its current state. It needs more structure and is inherently disorganized due to its architecture. According to Johnson, the key missing ingredient is feedback- no web page knows what other pages are pointing to it without effort. All connections are one-way. I suspect this lack of two-way connections is why Google, and search engines in general, are so dominant. We literally could not effectively use the information on the Web without these tools today.more
This is incredibly engaging and interesting, and is confirming ideas about which I already had some inklings about the general outlines of. I think that emergence may well shape up to be the defining idea of the next few decades. It seems to have its tentacles in a lot of different and disparate fields and problems, at any rate. I want to know more, though this is an excellent starting point.more
I find the concept of emergence, where simple sets of rules applied to large-scale systems can result in complex high-order organization, the most famous being an ant colony, where simple pheromone signals feed back on themselves to create what appears to be a well organized whole. I was expecting something a bit more technical, like a popular account of the current state of research, but he spent a lot more time talking about emergence in general and where it shows up in our lives and in the world around us. I did find the last couple chapters very fascinating, though, where he talked about emergence in the online community. As I was reading it (in July 2010), there were several things he talked about as possibilities that are now taken for granted, like what would become Google's search ranking algorithms, Netflix's movie suggestions and direct streaming, social networking, and other crowd-sourcing sites. About halfway through the chapter I looked at the publication date because of this and was pretty shocked to see that it was 9 years old.All in all not a bad book, but not quite what I was expecting or looking for.more
thought provoking read on self-organzing behaviors & the "bottom-up" revolution going on theories of how we connect. interesting to note that he wrote this after moving to greenwich village and then reading jane jacobs' "the death & life of great american cities" parallel w/ reading about brains. i love his magpie mind that can combine stuff on ant colonies, sidewalk culture, neuroscience, recommendation software of amazon, and social networks. "Cities bring minds together and put them into coherent slots." tags: self-organizing behavior, swarm logic, clustering, feedback loops, pattern recognition, emergent software, ordered randomness, jane jacobs, theory of minds, bottom-up revolution (8.20.09)more
I had a lot of fun reading _Emergence_, and it inspired many ideas and lines of inquiry. It stitches together topics I've been reading about, including the emergent intelligence of ant colonies in _Goedel, Escher, Bach_, the automata of Sipser's _Introduction to the Theory of Computation_, and the patterns in programming katas like Conway's Game of Life. Among other things, I've installed StarLogo and started programming simulations of epidemics and swarms, with plans for building a software rendition of my cellular automata project. I love books that get me thinking creatively, and _Emergence_ provided a great synergy of new ideas and connections with themes I've been thinking about, in an approachable, readable style.more
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