what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Good writing websites

Regular readers will have noticed that I have added a cloud element to the Labels (keywords) which identifies the frequency with which I have blogged on a given subject (while keeping the alpabetical listings). I have done this mainly to give the new reader a quick idea of what this blog is about. Hence, also, the sentence I have added below the masthead – to let people know that this blog does not « do » instant opinions on current events. This is part of the New Year stock-taking I spoke about yesterday. Two other new features are a "share it" facility – part of a new marketing urge I have - and a small poll which I added for a couple of days – one question only about the length of time readers stay on the site. Sadly it attracted no feedback - and I am therefore discouraged from further experimentation of this sort.

In the last few days I’ve stumbled on some great websites which connect to challenging articles on global dilemmas.
A good newspaper article reminded me about the edge website and annual question which I had forgotten about –
it sprang from the thought that to arrive at a satisfactory plateau of knowledge it was pure folly to go to Harvard University library and read six million books. Better to gather the 100 most brilliant minds in the world in a room, lock them in and have them ask one another the questions they'd been asking themselves. The expected result – in theory – was to be a synthesis of all thought. But it didn't work out that way. 100 most brilliant minds were identified and phoned. The result: 70 hung up on him! Brockman persisted with his idea, or at any rate with the notion that it might be possible to do something analogous using the internet. And so Edge.org was born as a kind of high-octane online salon with Brockman as its editor and host. He describes it as "a conversation. We look for people whose creative work has expanded our notion of who and what we are. We encourage work on the cutting edge of the culture and the investigation of ideas that have not been generally exposed."
As of now, the roll call of current and deceased members of the Edge salon runs to 660. They include many of the usual suspects (Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Daniel Kahneman, Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Richard Thaler, to name just a few.)
It's a good idea - but the results, clearly depend on those asked and those who respond. My immediate feeling from a quick scan of the recent questions is that the replies are dominated by the psychologists, IT people and physicists  and are skewed by the strange, highly specialiosed worls they inhabit. Why not more social scientists and management theorists??

When I was googling for critical reviews of a couple of books, I came across a serious book review site - bookforum - which offers, every few days, a collection of interesting links for selected themes - for example on a subject which greatly exercised me 20 years ago - postcommunism. This in turn led me to a useful post on the subject at another interesting site - the Monkey Cage. I’ve added the bookforum site to my list of favourite links (which I've also checked for connections). The Browser is another excellent resource which collects articles on specific themes.
Another site - Logos - is probably just a bit too academic for me and my readers.

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