Nordic Track Book Club Review: Bold New World

Its been a good couple of weeks for Nordic Tracking, which I do in spurts here in my home office and then I don’t do it for long periods of time. But every minute I AM Nordic Tracking is spent reading something interesting from my shelf. Occasionally its a nerd book, but more often it is not. During the last couple weeks of Nordic Track sessions I was able to re-read William Knoke’s Bold New World. I read it in 1996 when it first came out and really enjoyed it both times.

The book looks at a future where new realities result from the erosion of place through advances in communications and technology. According to Knocke, “place” is the point through which our economic, political and social structure have been perceived through the centuries. With place no longer a logical dimension (no near verses far, everything-everywhere, i.e., a fourth dimension), societal upheaval and radical change is bound to result. Knocke discussed some exciting prospects for a placeless society as well as some downright scary-as-hell possibilities, with each chapter opening up with several fictional futuristic scenarios on that chapter’s topic.

A few points he discusses are the erosion of the nation-state, emergence of a world government, religion-driven politics, fragmentation of giant corporations, and a point that fascinated me: arguing that the labor skills of the 20th century are already irrelevant for our near-term future.

Interesting terminology used in the book includes 1) The Age of Everything Everywhere, 2) The Amoeba Form (of business and resources), 3) Digital Capital (no longer a physical object), 4) Global Tribes (affiliated by common non-geographic interests and cultures), and 5) the Placeless Society.

Knocke has an excellent online summary of the book which elaborates on the points mentioned here.

Okay, time for something a little lighter, say, Seth Godin’s Free Prize Inside.

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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.