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"Future Perfect" and the Steven Johnson Fan Club
October 30, 2012 - 9:00pm

Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age by Steven Johnson

Published in September of 2012.

I'm betting that there is a strong overlap between our IHE community and fans of Steven Johnson.

If you are like me you got hooked on Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You, and have loved his subsequent books (like The Ghost Map, The Invention of Air, and Where Good Ideas Come From).

Future Perfect is definitely worth a read for us card carrying members of the Steven Johnson fan club.  Maybe not as memorable as his last books, but I'll admit to being biased by high expectations. 

Johnson make the argument that peer networks will prove to be as powerful for political change as they have been in other realms.  Peer networks are responsible for the creation of value outside traditional economic models, with Wikipedia perhaps the best know example.  

Johnson coins the term "peer progressives" to describe a new political orientation outside of the traditional left/right divide.  A peer progressive's approach to social problems is to focus on utilizing the power of networks, incentives, and technology to find innovative solutions.   This orientation is distrustful of top down or hierarchical organizational structures, preferring instead systems that support agile decision making with authority pushed out to the edges of the network.

It would be fascinating to hear what Johnson thinks about MOOCs and efforts to bring low-cost online education to scale.  Would he see this as a peer movement of nontraditional learners and iconoclastic faculty, or a top down approach by university and business elites?

What are you reading?


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