Peter Miller's The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies Can Make Us Better at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done
is half popular science book, half business book, covering one of my favorite subjects: emergent phenomena, such as the way that ants find optimal routes to food sources.
Emergence is a cool, weird, poorly understood and extremely relevant subject. The study of emergence and complexity has helped businesses solve problems from optimizing telecommunications links to loading and unloading airplanes to reducing traffic jams in major cities, and it's impossible to understand tragedies from stampedes in busy stadiums to economic collapse without it.
Miller does a good job of surveying the recent and classic literature on emergence and complexity, as well as the more interesting experiments and illuminating real-world applications in human society, from optimizing Boeing's supply chain to redesigning the fatal Saudi bridge where hundreds of pilgrims to Mecca died in a stampede.
The material is cast as news-you-can-use, as Miller tries to make the connection between the way that complexity explains real-world phenomena and the daily running of businesses and other complex enterprises. This is the weakest part of the book: having read it, I didn't feel ready to jump out and redesign a company around fostering emergence -- but I was convinced that most businesses and other complex institutions would benefit from bringing in someone to interpret complexity theory and put it into practice.
The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies Can Make Us Better at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done
Frog tongue mechanism has been well-documented, but only recently have scientists started looking at the remarkable combo of tongue softness and frog spit’s chemical makeup.
Elenco’s Night ‘n Day Mechanical Globe uses a system of translucent, exposed gears to rotate an internally illuminated globe that displays the seasonally adjusted, real-time night/day terminator as it spins.
KSU plant biochemical geneticist Raj Nagarajan describes the properties of Thaumatin, Monellin and Brazzein, all found in west African plants that are generally considered safe for consumption; each is a protein, and they are, respectively, 1,000x, 2000x, and 3000x sweeter than sugar.
DJI is the world’s leading designer and producer of easy-to-fly drones and aerial photography systems. If you’re a drone enthusiast, you want a DJI. If you know absolutely nothing about drones and think they’re weird, if you win a DJI you’re going to become a drone enthusiast.Enter this giveaway (for free, yes) and you’ll get a […]
Although there will never be a consensus about the best way to make coffee, any coffee connoisseur will agree that controlling the grind of your beans and balancing water temperature are the keys to a tasty cup. Since your plastic coffee pot doesn’t really allow for that kind of customization, going back to the French […]
Not all hackers are malicious information thieves—white-hat ethical hackers work with technology companies to ensure the security of their computer systems and user data. With all of today’s high-profile data breaches, ethical hackers are in considerable demand. To learn these critical skills and break into the high-paying cyber security field, try taking the courses in this […]