The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture

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University of Chicago Press, Jan 1, 2002 - Philosophy - 340 pages
2 Reviews
"The Moment of Complexity is a profoundly original work. In remarkable and insightful ways, Mark Taylor traces an entirely new way to view the evolution of our culture, detailing how information theory and the scientific concept of complexity can be used to understand recent developments in the arts and humanities. This book will ultimately be seen as a classic."-John L. Casti, Santa Fe Institute, author of Gödel: A Life of Logic, the Mind, and Mathematics

The science of complexity accounts for that inscrutable mix of chaos and order that governs our natural world. Complexity explains how networks emerge and function, how species organize into ecosystems, how stars form into galaxies, and how just a few sequences of DNA can account for so many different life forms. Recently, the idea of complexity has taken the worlds of business and politics by storm. The concept is used to account for phenomena as varied as the behavior of the stock market, the response of voting populations, and the effects of risk management. Even Disney has used complexity theory to manage crowd control at its theme parks.

Given the startling development of new information technologies, we now live in a moment of unprecedented complexity, an era in which change occurs faster than our ability to comprehend it. With The Moment of Complexity, Mark C. Taylor offers a timely map for this unfamiliar terrain opening in our midst, unfolding an original philosophy through a remarkable synthesis of science and culture. According to Taylor, complexity is not just a breakthrough scientific concept, but the defining quality of the post-Cold War era. The flux of digital currents swirling around us, he argues, has created a new network culture with its own distinctive logic and dynamic.

Drawing on resources from information theory and evolutionary biology, Taylor explains the operation of complex adaptive systems in social and cultural processes and captures a whole new zeitgeist in the making. To appreciate the significance of our emerging network culture, he claims, we need not only to understand contemporary scientific and technological transformations, but also to explore the subtle influences of art, architecture, philosophy, religion, and higher education. The Moment of Complexity, then, is a remarkable work of cultural analysis on a scale rarely seen today. To follow its trajectory is to learn how we arrived at this critical moment in our culture, and to know where we might head in the twenty-first century.
  

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Review: The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture

User Review  - Nate Crawford - Goodreads

Good until he starts to brag about his own accomplishments in the last chapter. Read full review

Review: The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture

User Review  - Abraham - Goodreads

The first chapter of this is a spectacular exploration of the far-reaching implications of complexity theory. Taylor is a little over-romantic about Gehry, but his points are solid and beautiful. This ... Read full review

Contents

figures
6
FROM GRID TO NETWORK
19
Mies van der Rohe Seagram Building
22
Le Corbusier A Contemporary City
27
Mies van der Rohe Illinois Institute of Technology
33
Superficial Complexity
34
Robert Venturi Decorated Shed
38
Robert Venturi The Vanna Venturi House
39
EMERGING COMPLEXITY
125
Chuck Close in his studio working on SelfPortrait 1993
126
Chuck Close Big Self Portrait 196768
128
Chuck Close Study for Big SelfPortrait photographed 1967 dated 1968
130
Chuck Close Big SelfPortrait detail 196768
132
Chuck Close SelfPortrait 1997
133
Cellular Automata 14445
136
Emergence
143

Frank Gehry Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
42
Frank Gehry Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
43
Frank Gehry Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
45
Frank Gehry Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
46
CRITICAL EMERGENCY
47
Digital Divide
61
Rene Magritte This Is Not a Pipe
76
Rene Magritte Two Mysteries
77
Machines and Death
78
Undecidable Openings
93
Information and Communication
107
Claude Shannon Schematic diagram of a general communication system
108
EVOLVING COMPLEXITY
157
Douglas Hofstadter A tiny portion of the authors semantic network
160
Evolution
171
Morphing
190
Culturing Networks
205
Cybergnosis
219
CODA THE CURRENCY OF EDUCATION
233
Critical Faculties
251
Notes
271
Bibliography
297
Index
325
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Mark C. Taylor is the Cluett Professor of Humanities at Williams College. He is cofounder of the Global Education Network and the author of numerous works, including About Religion: Economies of Faith in Virtual Culture, The Picture in Question: Mark Tansey and the Ends of Representation, and Hiding, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

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