World War Z is getting a lot of coverage this weekend, but I would like to remind everyone that it is a pretty good novel. By all accounts, the book is different enough from the movie that it’s worth reading even after seeing the movie. I have been reading some profiles of the author, Max Brooks, this weekend. Things I did not know: He is the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft; he tours the country giving lectures on zombie preparedness; and he doesn’t think zombies are funny. For him, zombies are those random things in life that get us that we don’t see coming–a car accident, cancer, random chance. Zombies are the personification of that old chestnut, “Life isn’t fair.”
By trying to prepare for a zombie apocalypse, something that we can feel reasonably sure is not ever going to happen, we prepare for the things we can’t control, that feel too big for us to take on. (Max Brooks wrote a survival manual for the zombie apocalypse before he wrote World War Z.) Maybe this is why I like to read apocalyptic fiction. There is literally very little I can do about climate change or peak oil, but I can read about people who go through worse, and survive it.
Alternate World War Z movie poster art found here.
If you’ve ever wondered why many people have no trouble believing convoluted conspiracy theories, such as the New World Order granddaddy of all conspiracies, this is an interesting read: Why Rational People Buy Into Conspiracy Theories – NYTimes.com.
Want to be a writer? No, a real writer. You know, a person who writes, everyday. Well, this little piece will tell you the simple secret to becoming a real writer: How To Push Past The Bullshit And Write That Goddamn Novel: A Very Simple No-Fuckery Writing Plan To Get Shit Done « terribleminds: chuck wendig. Great advice!
Oh, and here’s a handy infographic if you’re one of those writers who doesn’t like to read.
I listened to Sugata Mitra’s TED talk on self-organized learning, and it was extremely inspiring for anyone interested in learning or the education of children. Sugata Mitra won the TED Prize for 2013 to help seed his ambitious project to create a “school in the cloud.” Here was the a-ha point for me in his talk:
But first, a bit of history: to keep the world’s military-industrial machine running at the zenith of the British Empire, Victorians assembled an education system to mass-produce workers with identical skills. Plucked from the classroom and plugged instantly into the system, citizens were churned through an educational factory engineered for maximum productivity.
In other words, the Victorians assembled a global human computer to run the world, and they created the school system to produce more human parts for the computer. But we don’t live in that age anymore. We have real computers now. So why hasn’t our educational system changed?
Here’s another great point:
Schools still operate as if all knowledge is contained in books, and as if the salient points in books must be stored in each human brain — to be used when needed. The political and financial powers controlling schools decide what these salient points are. Schools ensure their storage and retrieval. Students are rewarded for memorization, not imagination or resourcefulness.
I constantly hear a refrain of “innovation” and “creativity” as what we need for the 21st-century world. Yet our school system is designed to stifle innovation and creativity. Today, we need schools not structured like factories, but like clouds.
Read more and watch the TED Talk: Sugata Mitra: We Need Schools… Not Factories.
I read two interesting articles by Harold Jarche this morning on the future of work. The first posits that knowledge workers are the new artisans of the network era:
Small groups of highly productive knowledge artisans are capable of producing goods and services that used to take much larger teams and resources. In addition to redefining how work is done, knowledge artisans are creating new organizational structures and business models, such as virtual companies, crowd-sourced product development, and alternative currencies.
The second describes the four types of jobs and speculates that two of those job types will increasingly become automated, so if you want to work, you either need to be a thinker or a builder:
As we move into a post-job economy, the difference between labour and talent will become more distinct. Producers and Improvers will continue to get automated, at the speed of Moore’s law. Those lacking enough ‘Talent’ competencies may get marginalized. I think there will be increasing pressure to become ‘Thinkers + Builders’, similar to what Cory Doctorow describes as Makers in his fictional book about the near future.
Just look what people are doing. Flying a solar-powered plane across America. Planning a permanent colony on Mars. Planting guerrilla gardens. The ability of people to imagine, invent and just make things happen never fails to amaze me. Whenever I’m feeling discouraged or cynical about my species, I must remind myself of how incredible we can be.