David Brooks writes about Obama and Clinton's Jefferson-Jackson speeches last November in his column this morning:
Obama sketched out a different theory of social change than the one Clinton had implied earlier in the evening. Instead of relying on a president who fights for those who feel invisible, Obama, in the climactic passage of his speech, described how change bubbles from the bottom-up: “And because that somebody stood up, a few more stood up. And then a few thousand stood up. And then a few million stood up. And standing up, with courage and clear purpose, they somehow managed to change the world!”
For people raised on Jane Jacobs, who emphasized how a spontaneous dynamic order could emerge from thousands of individual decisions, this is a persuasive way of seeing the world. For young people who have grown up on Facebook, YouTube, open-source software and an array of decentralized networks, this is a compelling theory of how change happens.
Nice. I don't know if Brooks has read Emergence or not, but one of things I take a little pride in is the connection between Jacobs and the world of decentralized software, Open Source, etc. People had obviously been thinking about those themes before I wrote Emergence but the whole concept of applying Jacobs' urban theories to the way we think about the web was something that hadn't been done before, as far as I know -- and now it's a much more familiar connection to people, so much so that Brooks can made an offhand reference to it without even walking though the logic. That's pretty cool to see.
While I'm patting myself on the back, I have some direct evidence (the details of which I can't reveal for national security reasons) that Dick Cheney read The Ghost Map over Christmas, and apparently enjoyed it. (I'm kidding about the national security, but not about the fact that he read it.) Obviously, I'm not the biggest fan of Cheney, but still, there's something very cool about the idea. It's one of the things that's so rewarding about writing books; I effectively got five or six uninterrupted hours to talk directly to the Vice President about my theories about cities, disease, progress -- even the anti-science bent of the current administration. I didn't get actual face time, but my ideas did.
Of course, all of this had made me think about how to get the next book into the hands of Obama... By the way, I have a new next book that I'm starting to write this month. More about that later.