Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists


2009 - a year for Playing 'Catch-Up' (Part 1)

Monday 19 January 2009

This is Part one with Part two (looking at who will probably better off at this time next year) to come shortly. If you are in a position to sharpen your thinking, catch a breath or use some time to improve your understanding of the ways in which we create our societies, then I have a three items to recommend to you for this year - two books and one search engine option. The books offer additional ways to the consider some of the scientific research we hear about (without being too 'jargon' laden) and the search engine is arguably one of the best pieces of technology I've seen for quite some time.

First up the books which I'd recommend you include in your 2009 reading priorities.

John Grant's 'Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology and Politics in Science' was published in 2007 by 'Facts, Figures and Fun' and may not have made it into your basket for holiday time.  Don't miss it.  If you'd benefit from understanding the way in which science is used to support dubious political and personal positions, with great case studies and blatant 'lies' in science, then you ought to read this book.  It'll certainly improve your 'BS Detector' when the next piece of psuedo science is thrown at you to support an less than supportable case.

'The Carbon Age' by Eric Roston is the next book, published late last year by Walker & Company it is a wonderous look at the atom that is 'Carbon', its various forms in combination with other atoms, how we manipulate it and what The Carbon Age really means for us as a species.  A bit more science heavy than Corrupted Science, Roston poses the position that Carbon Dioxide greenhouse gases and the like that are top of mind and highly reported at the moment are natural events that circulate carbon in various forms as part of an earthly cycle but that we have added the breakdown of the carbon atom such that we now threaten life as we know it. It is a scary proposition and one that forces a need for action, not complacency in terms of addressing the way we are adding to the speed and size of the cycle.  The book falls a bit flat towards the end before picking up again and by then you should have a greatly enhanced understanding of what we are really talking about when we talk the age of Carbon.

Finally I'd like to recommend a Search Engine tool called that could well be the shape of search engines in the future.  If you've read my writings over the years you'll know even as a futurist I am a technology sceptic, having seen and read more claims about innovations in technology that I can recall.  You'll also know that I am a pragmatist and am fully supportive of any technology that can really improve the things we do.  This search engine presents you with a visual view of the front page of websites that contain the subject you've entered into the search bar.  You can then simply scroll past each page quickly reading the headlines before skipping on to the one you want or trying again - just like reading a magazine.  I'm a huge fan of Google and as the new search engine builds, suspect I'll be using Google less and a lot more and if you have a preference for viewing images rather than reading lots of text (as traditional search engines present things to you), then this new beta format is one of the game changing ideas.


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