I’ve been reading this book as part of my current research/interest in swarming. Steven Johnson is a writer with a very engaging style, which makes this book a very easy read (200+ pages). His writing reminds me a lot of James Burke’s “Connections” television program. He starts with a historical figure, and traces the evolution of the idea of emergence from various obvious, obscure, and downright idiosyncratic roots. You feel like you are traveling on a historical journey with Johnson as he spins the tale of how the idea of decentralization and emergence has manifested itself throughout history.
He touches on examples that I had never heard of before. We’re all familiar with using the behavior of Ants and Bees to explain emergence, but what about Slime molds? Johnson, describes some fascinating examples of emergent behavior in the most amazing places.
If you are looking for an engaging and intelligent read about the emerging study of…emergence, you can’t do much better than this book.
Check out the book over at Amazon.com
Steven Johnson’s website/blog