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Saturday, April 22, 2006
 
New Biology (Pulse "the first networked book") ::

I found out about Pulse from Rachel's blog (she was working on the project). Names@Work were hired to publicise the book, they have taken an "open" approach to this commercial goal:
Our guiding principle is give before you get. Readers can read the entire book without paying a penny by subscribing via RSS or email. By making Pulse easily available, we're encouraging people to share, discuss, and pass on the ideas in this fascinating book.
I've subscribed. The first day's installment starts with the blurb from Names@Work that I just quoted, and follows up with the first chunk of the book. Robert Frenay has an easy to read flowing style, and his thoughts are full of "big ideas". The first 500 words or so takes us through the whole evolution of life on earth, with a focus on the end point:
The twenty-first century will mark a sea change in human affairs, one unlike any that has gone before. Soon to come are computers with emotions, ships that learn from fish, and "soft jets" that flex and twist like swooping birds. Fabricated arteries will pulse and contract just as they do in life. Industries will reabsorb waste, like fallen leaves fading into the earth, while a new kind of money looks to energy cascades in nature. These are not blue-sky dreams. Work on them is well advanced.
This is "love-it or hate-it" stuff. So, do I? Well it's too early to say, the lack of evidence annoyed me, I'm marking student work at the moment and so often there I'm saying: "Support what you say with evidence, cite an author, give a Bible reference, or the source of the statistics..." well (so far) Frenay gives none of these and it's frustrating. On the other hand I LOVE the book as blog approach. Bite-sized chunks to read between other more "productive" work, great. Book-as-blog, I'm sold... but whether I'll buy this book may depend on whether Frenay's rhetoric gets (sometime) a backing of more solid evidence.


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