Looks like I am adding two books to my reading-diet today:
Dan Gillmor‘s We Media, which is available through O’Reilly, but in keeping with its message is also released for download on a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 License. Great!

And second a book by Jeremy Rifkin, The European Dream, to be released later this month. During the past 18 months or so I have repeatedly heard, and said so myself, that the strength of Europe lies in leveraging its diversity. Meanwhile most discussions on industry, innovation and education seem to take the stance that we’re not good enough at emulating what the US is doing (as if that would make us world class, it would only make us second best at the most: it’s the same flaw as in adopting best practices). But while I knew we were doing the wrong things, I also didn’t know how to go about ‘celebrating diversity’. Hierarchical, and old school industrial thinking get in the way of that.
Rifkin, according to the blurb on the book, seems to postulate that European diversity and culture is much better suited to adapt to a networked society from an industrial one, as compared to the US, and significant steps already have been made. Or in other words how Europe could leapfrog over the US.

From the blurb:
The American Dream is in decline. Americans are increasingly overworked, underpaid, and squeezed for time. But there is an alternative: the European Dream-a more leisurely, healthy, prosperous, and sustainable way of life. Europe’s lifestyle is not only desirable, argues Jeremy Rifkin, but may be crucial to sustaining prosperity in the new era.
Reminds me of a conversation I head with a representative of the South African government last year where we explored the notion that Africa’s structure, largely based on communities, and also tribal thinking, (and the storytelling and master-apprentice relations that are part of it) could well be a chance to leapfrog past the EU and the US in realizing the potential of knowledge management.
A lot of Africans are totally ingrained with notions that we struggle to give a place in our industrial surroundings. (But it will also require independence from oil to really do that for them, as only that will take their debt burden to the West away and give the continent a chance to break the spiral of poverty that now chains them to our hierarchical industrial structures)
But anyway, I am curious about Rifkins ideas about how to leverage our European diversity better.

5 reactions on “Two Books to Read

  1. Beyond Lustmarks: Modesty

    (This is the first of a series of posts talking about alternative ways of creating brands that are socially useful and economically sustainable) I want to talk about modesty, a quality somewhat lacking in many branding practitioners, and certainly in…

  2. I don’t fully buy Rifkin’s premise – “Americans are increasingly overworked, underpaid, and squeezed for time.”
    That’s true for mainstream – but he should look more closely at where early adopters – the alpha-lifestylers (twisting Tim O’Reilly alpha-geeks) are going:
    I just read this post:
    http://www.alwayson-network.com/comments.php?id=5330_0_5_0_C :
    “What I’ve discovered is that there are two types of “workers.” Type A, let’s call them, are stressed out, time-constrained office or blue collar workers who report somewhere at about 8 AM, stay there all day, and juggle the demands of “real life” on weekends or after 5. Or, if they are bold, on the office computer. These workers are losing their high paying jobs to outsourcing.
    The other half, Type B, get up and walk their dogs, do their Tai Chi, or watch CNBC. They log on to the Internet, return email, hop on and off conference calls, and run their errands in the middle of the morning. They may or may not be self-employed.”
    I recently wrote a bit about these trends myself -we’re each individually redefining what ‘the American Dream’ is for ourselves:
    http://evelynrodriguez.typepad.com/crossroads_dispatches/2004/08/slow_idle_happy.html

  3. Hi Evelyn,
    I think you are right in pointing that out. To me it looks like part of us are already actively decentralizing our way of life. So I think Rifkin has been looking closely at what early adopters are doing, and signals that examples are more visible in Europe at this time. Btw, in his other book about the Hydrogen Economy he more or less says that decentralizing energy production is what it will take for most people to live a decentralized life.

  4. Beyond Lovemarks: Modesty

    (This is the first of a series of posts talking about alternative ways of creating brands that are socially useful and economically sustainable) I want to talk about modesty, a quality somewhat lacking in many branding practitioners, and certainly in…

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