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Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age
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Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  822 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
Combining the deft social analysis of Where Good Ideas Come From with the optimistic arguments of Everything Bad Is Good for You, New York Times bestselling author and one of the most inspiring visionaries of contemporary culture, Steven Johnson, maps the ways a connected world will be both different and better.

Steven Johnson proposes that a new model of political change i
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Riverhead (first published September 1st 2012)
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Andreas Jungherr
The first third of the book contains an interesting and highly readable popularisation of recent scientific texts on the role of networks in social organisation. Unfortunately the last two thirds of the book are filled with highly enthusiastic and uncritical examples of how these network structures might change various fields of society. Mainly these case studies fall short of valid analyses since they create false dichotomies between network structures, market structures and hierarchies. Instea ...more
Nov 24, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it
Another good one from Steven Johnson, though better suited to someone who is relatively new to net culture and its politics. For someone like that, there is a lot here to think about, and (ideally) challenge one's assumptions. "Peer progressivism" is at least as good a name for the not-quite-yet political movement he discusses, and his explanation of that movement in the first part of the book is thoughtful and interesting.

The second and larger part covers several topics intended to show peer p
José Antonio Lopez
Since I found out about Steven Johnson in his TED talk about Where good ideas come from I started reading his work. His book about the TED talk is great and his recent show in PBS "How we got to now" is great. I had great expectations about "Future Perfect". His core ideas are very interesting especially the value of networks (part of his work on how ideas come up) and how what is know as "peer-economy" is invigorating the power of networks.

However I found disappointing his misrepresentation of
Dec 04, 2012 Patrick rated it it was amazing
In Future Perfect, bestselling author Steven Johnson (Everything Bad Is Good for You) declares himself a member of the new revolutionary party, the peer progressives. For the most part, it’s a quiet movement, steady, not inherently violent. The recent uprisings in Bahrain, Egypt, the Occupy Wall Street protests, and other well-covered clashes between Net-enabled citizens and truncheon-wielding cops do not embody this phenomenon, but are instead merely a symptom. Make no mistake, however: A revol ...more
Pete Welter
Oct 11, 2012 Pete Welter rated it it was amazing
Steven Johnson has been one of my authors for a while. Besides his topics, I think it's the fact that he is more than a writer - he goes beyond synthesizing information to forming clear and new theories and ideas.

In this book, he talks about a world-view called the "peer progressive" which I found resonated with me, because it described where I've moved in my point of view politically and culturally. The peer progressive is someone who believes that the free market is an incredible driver for in
Douglas Smith
I became interested in reading this book after hearing the author discuss it on NPR. I was interested in considering it for a class I'm teaching in the Spring on social change. On the whole, I found it an interesting read. His main thesis is that new technology has allowed for new network structure (in particular open, diffuse peer-to-peer networks) to provide a modern solution to issues faced by both governments and markets (which ofter are structure in hierarchical networks). It's a big idea b ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Jasmin rated it liked it
This is my first time reading for Steven Johnson, very thought insightful book about the age of networking and how it's changing the world around us. I came about reading this book for my " Media and politics" class. The amount of information and how it was presented in the online world is beyond us, there's everything and everyone is sharing thoughts ideas and it dependance on the individuals network and what type of information he wants to intake search and know about. The online world has so ...more
Atila Iamarino
Oct 20, 2015 Atila Iamarino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entra pra lista dos bons livros sobre temas atuais. Na mesma linha dos livros do Clay Shirky e similares. Com noções bem recentes e bem situadas de como interagimos pela internet e do que isso tem possibilitado. Achei especialmente boa a parte sobre a relevância de problemas locais: o que mais próximo de nós tem mais importância imediata, como filho machucado, mas o que acontece logo do lado nem tanto, filho da vizinha machucado. E como a internet tem possibilitado eventos de nicho relevantes lo ...more
David Luna
Oct 24, 2012 David Luna rated it it was amazing
Finally someone who gets it. I thought I was taking crazy pills for the past 5 or so years. Steven Johnson lays out what it means to be a "Peer Progressive". This is something I believe I am. Johnson tells us "...we underestimate the amount of steady progress that continues around us, and we misunderstand where that progress comes from" Amen.

Johnson goes on to say that progress "is not just a question of choosing between individuals and the state. Increasingly, we are choosing another path, one
Andrew Barkett
Mar 03, 2017 Andrew Barkett rated it it was ok
Very disappointing. There are lots of things wrong with this book. First, the author doesn't understand economics, and then he talks about economics a lot in the book. Same goes for management and politics, two nearly-as-frequently-mentioned topics. Third, he's a naive utopian. The funniest thing is that he talks about the book Utopia without realizing that even Sir Thomas More's Utopia is a DYStopian fantasy. I probably should have stopped reading when I got to that part.
A. Bowdoin Van Riper
Future Perfect is an optimistic book about technology, society, and the future. That’s remarkable in itself, since pessimistic (or at least cautionary) books tend to outnumber optimistic ones, but what’s even more remarkable is the care and precision with which Johnson makes his case. The new communications technologies, he argues, are significant less for what they do than for what their capabilities enable us to do, if we choose to do it.

The first of the book’s two sections lays out its centra
Pete Wung
Dec 31, 2012 Pete Wung rated it really liked it
Future Perfect by Steven Johnson is a book about a big idea. And Johnson is a good person to guide you through the big idea, he has dealt with big ideas and he is quite adapt at presenting the cross coupled and complex ideas adroitly.
In this case, the idea has to do with peer-to-peer networks. While the name itself sound like it has something to do computer and communication technology, it is a very interesting concept which can be implemented without the help of technology, although it surely c
Peter Mcloughlin
If you want to get the feeling of an impending sense of doom read a polemical political tract (right or left) or something about the environment. If you want something more upbeat books about science and technology are usually pretty feel good. Steven Johnson writes about technology's effect on politics and culture. He responds to criticisms that the internet is destroying news coverage once provide by newspapers they replace. He states it is a new technology and as it matures functions like int ...more
John Stepper
Apr 21, 2013 John Stepper rated it it was amazing
A 5-star book. Provides the examples and the language to describe the possibilities created by the recent ease of publishing, sharing, and connecting.

So many great quotes on the power of being a "peer progressive".

“To be a peer progressive, then, is to believe that the key to continued progress lies in building peer networks in as many regions of modern life as possible: in education, health care, city neighborhoods, private corporations, and government agencies.

What peer progressives want to
Elizabeth Schlatter
Despite the annoying cover design (I get it, kinda retro but also very Wired circa 1990s, but really, must you shout?), this is a very well written essay on peer progressives, which Johnson puts forth as a new type of political slant that is inspired by the peer-to-peer model of the internet while taking some elements from libertarians, democrats, republicans, and socialists. It's kind of a common-sense, egalitarian approach to problems both old and new (wealth distribution, education, communica ...more
Fernando del Alamo
Aug 31, 2014 Fernando del Alamo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
El libro se centra en un tema: comparar las estructuras sociales que se basan en una jerarquía de arriba a abajo, en la que hay unos puntos o estructuras básicas (llamadas estrellas de Legrand) o en una red donde no hay una jerarquía definida (llamadas redes de Baran).

A partir de aquí, entra la historia de Internet gracias a la cual, la sociedad ha pasado mayoritariamente de ser una estrella de Legrand a una red de Baran y cómo podemos y debemos contribuir, cómo afecta a nuestro desarrollo como
Nov 10, 2012 Phil rated it it was amazing
Feeling glum about the state of man and about the future? This book will turn you around. A fact filled trip into the reality of progress and a very analytical look at peer to peer evolution in technology, communications, human relationships and social interactions of all sorts.

Steven Johnson has written for Wired, NY Times, Time etc. He is a journalist and one thing about journalists is that they usually know how to create a great read. Johnson is one of the best.

I can’t recommend this book hig
Jan 02, 2015 Vedant rated it really liked it
Shelves: web-culture
There is much to admire about this book. As well as much to doubt. But what can't be denied is that the worldview of the 'peer progressive' is fresh and contagious. Above all it is optimistic. But not in a naive way as some would point out, but in a way that is in the realm of the 'adjacent possible' :)

Steven Johnson's essays on 'communities,' 'education,' liquid democracies' and conscious capitalism' present a blueprint for all of us to solve problems differently. There are moments in the book
Ryan Brinkworth
Nov 07, 2014 Ryan Brinkworth rated it really liked it
Despite Johnson never using the term 'New World Order', he highlights very well some of the scenarios where networking and social technologies have revolutionised how society has now learned to organise in the face of new challenges. He also sketches out an interesting future we could enter if we continue to embrace some of the best organising principles that he brings from fascinating success stories. 'Future Perfect' successfully shows that there is a large current of change possible if we emb ...more
Erik Hanberg
Jan 21, 2013 Erik Hanberg rated it liked it
This doesn't break as much ground as his great "Where Good Ideas Coem From" but is rather a manifesto for what he calls a "peer progressive" movement, a decentralized movement to change society, politics, and more. Good, but you have to already be invested in the idea, I think. Still recommend "Where Good Ideas Coem From."
Christian Brucculeri
Jun 01, 2017 Christian Brucculeri rated it it was amazing
Amazing book about long term trends that almost never make the news. Loved this book
Jun 07, 2017 Jane rated it liked it
The book made me think - tho I didn't care for the subject
John Norman
Jan 03, 2014 John Norman rated it it was ok
This is not a good book.

The fundamental claim is that the world is "progressing," in large part because of new or emergent technological and social arrangements that are about distributed networks, or what the author beggingly wants us to accept under the slogan "peer progressivism." There is a crude and loose analogy here between distributed and non-centrally controlled social behavior and packet networking as on the Internet (which is itself a tendentious reading of what the Internet is all ab
Sally Sugarman
Dec 21, 2016 Sally Sugarman rated it really liked it

I enjoyed this book greatly. Steven Johnson writes clearly. This is a book with one idea that is then played out in a variety of areas such as politics, business, government, journalism and other areas. He talks about being a peer progressive. He starts out by talking about the spectacular landing of a plane in the Hudson by Sully Sullenberger. This was the result of incremental changes. He says that we do not pay attention to the way the world is slowly getting better small change by small chan
Jan 08, 2017 Venkat rated it really liked it
The first half of book is quite interesting but the second half is repetitive with context been different but the subtext the same.
Sep 19, 2012 Kyle rated it it was amazing
This book is an update and extension of Johnson's Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software in which he first explored the power of decentralized networks. As always Johnson provides great insights on how such networks have worked in the past (the establishment of the Longitude Prize), how they are currently working (New York City's 311 system, an excellent section on my new favorite hobby and time sink Kickstarter), and how they could be implemented in the future to s ...more
William Mooney
Dec 20, 2012 William Mooney rated it liked it
Shelves: ideas, society-ideas
This is the third Steven Johnson book that I have read. In Future Perfect, he takes many of the underlying ideas that I saw in Ghost Map and Where Good Ideas Come From and applies them to a new political worldview, dubbed Peer-Progressive. Overall, the book tries to depart from sensationalist and negative media that usually spell doom and gloom. Instead, Johnson finds optimism with how far our society has already advanced and sees a bright future for further progress. To Johnson, this progress d ...more
I'll probably be recommending this book to several people, but with some reservations. Johnson obviously has good democratic impulses, and his ability to take that and try to analytically push a way between the current unproductive binary of political choices is great, as is his ease in taking technological concepts and explaining some of their theoretical aspects and their political consequences. I'll be using some of his metaphors in conversation, for sure.

But, it's hard for me to make peace w
Leonidas Kaplan
Sep 07, 2014 Leonidas Kaplan rated it really liked it
Future Positive

So people working together to make decisions. Democracy right? Not in this case.

Typical democracy elects one group of people to make all decisions. Thus, regardless of promises, you now have a group in power that does what it wants.

In Future positive, we have votes from citizens into what makes the most sense for them. So citizens vote whether they want a new playground, or a new business center. Citizens can either contribute a vote towards a decision, or money.

Similar to Kicksta
Jul 07, 2013 Rohan rated it liked it
What started as an interesting book which talked about interesting developments in web based community projects that have come up in recent years eg. Kickstarter, it fizzles out well before it reaches midway. From there on, Author is trying hard to enforce a few decades old (probably a century old) belief in the role peer networking plays in progress of Human civilization.

I had no particular problem with idea of Peer Progressiveness that author was trying to promote but at times I felt that he
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Steven Johnson is the bestselling author of ten books, including Wonderland, How We Got to Now, Where Good Ideas Come From, The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, and Everything Bad Is Good for You.
The founder of a variety of influential websites, he is the host and co-creator of the PBS and BBC series How We Got to Now. Johnson lives in Marin County, California, and Brooklyn, New York, with his w
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“No doubt some of the euphoria about the Internet’s egalitarian promise was overstated, and some advocates did veer into genuine Net utopianism at times. But the people I was interested in were not evangelists for the Internet itself. For them, the Internet was not a cure-all; it was a role model. It wasn’t the solution to the problem, but a way of thinking about the problem. One” 1 likes
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