OUT OF CONTROL

THE RISE OF NEO-BIOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION

In this densely packed deliberation on the shape of things to come, Kelly, the executive editor of Wired, offers a biological paradigm for a whole set of scientific and cultural phenomena: virtual reality, self-controlling robots, animation, nanotechnology, games, even the much ballyhooed ``information superhighway.'' Kelly's main thesis is that biological organization offers a degree of adaptability impossible with the more familiar hierarchic mechanical organization. A swarm of bees has no single guiding intellect; it arrives at a consensus based on the input of various individuals, generating more or less enthusiasm for a proposal as members go out to verify various reports. This lack of central control becomes a model for a variety of processes that combine great freedom of the individual parts with sophisticated overall performance. Computer networks like the Internet are classic examples of anarchy in action, making available an enormous amount of information with a minimum of structure. Space researchers have begun to speculate that a swarm of small, very simple machines independently following very simple instructions may be better able to prepare a lunar landing site than a single, more complex device. The ultimate in simplicity lies in the infant science of nanotechnology, which envisions the use of extremely simple machines no larger than some organic molecules. At the other end of the spectrum, Mark Pauline of San Francisco makes enormous ``organic machines'' out of spare (or stolen) parts and sets them to destroying one another in bizarre exhibitions that resemble freaked-out reenactments of the Roman circus. The book is full of such fascinating characters and oddball insights into the interplay between technology and living forms. Kelly's organization is often as seemingly uncontrolled as some of the processes he discusses. But the book as a whole is rewarding, full of food for thought, and a convincing preview of the probable future of technology.

Pub Date: July 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-201-57793-3

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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