We would like to focus our third get together with the large question "How can the traditional benefits of books be achieved in our ever-distracted society?".
Jared Duval will get the conversation kicked off. Jared's recently completed book titled, Next Generation Democracy: What the Open Source Revolution Means for Power Politics and Change will be published in November, 2010 by Bloomsbury. He is a Fellow at Demos, a New York based think tank.
We will all chip in a little for some food cooked up by the guys at Bru.
“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill." - Henry David Thoreau
When Thoreau wrote those words, he had no way of foreseeing all the myriad new media that would develop to allow "thought and speculation" to advance in non-book form.
Yet, there are still today distinct advantages that books have over other media such as blogging or tweeting. First, the expected length of a book makes it possible to take analysis beyond superficial soundbites. Allowing for in depth and sustained exploration of complex, multi-faceted topics, books have a unique ability to build on previous work and then advance understanding and thinking to new levels. Further, because they demand solitude and reflection (both in the act of writing for the author and in the act of reading for the reader), books nurture the kind of creativity and original thinking that our world so needs at this moment of great social and environmental challenge.
Indeed, I believe that books are powerful not so much because of their physical form but rather because of what they can carry (whether on paper or via e-book): truly transformational ideas that need time and space to develop. As Alan Greenspan once said:
“In the broad sweep of history, it is ideas that matter. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Emperors and armies may come and go, but unless they leave new ideas in their wake, they are of passing historical consequence.”
With this introduction, I want to suggest two questions to frame our next Social Change and Technology discussion.
Broadly speaking and for the benefit of all of us, how can books (or, perhaps more importantly, deep and sustained reflection about important ideas) stay relevant and popular in our contemporary, ever-distracted society, especially among the rising Millennial generation?
And of specific interest to me, I am curious to hear your ideas about how I might design a promotion tour for my book so that a broad cross-section of society (including those who usually avoid books) will read it and be influenced by the stories and ideas within.
For more on why I am interested in these questions, please see the short write-up of my first book, Next Generation Democracy: What the Open Source Revolution Means for Power, Politics, and Change, in Bloomsbury's Fall '10 catalog on pg. 60 at this link - http://www.scribd.com... (http://www.scribd.com/doc/27776865/Bloomsbury-Fall-2010)
ABOUT THIS GATHERING: Its time for a third conversation. If you did not make it last time this is an informal gathering just to talk with other techies and social change advocates about future possibilities. Our primary goal is just to have conversations that bring together the people in the New Haven area who have are pioneering new ways of advancing social good. Our hope is that everyone comes to the table with enough of a background that we can skip the conversation about "how you starting facebook profile" and dive into the big issues.