Society

Pedagogy of the oppressed

By Paulo Freire

Brief description

First published in Portuguese in 1968, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was translated and published in English in 1970. The methodology of the late Paulo Freire has helped to empower countless impoverished and illiterate people throughout the world. Freire's work has taken on especial urgency in the United States and Western Europe, where the creation of a permanent underclass among the underprivileged and minorities in cities and urban centers is increasingly accepted as the norm. With a substantive new introduction on Freire's life and the remarkable impact of this book by writer and Freire confidant and authority Donaldo Macedo, this anniversary edition of Pedagogy of the Oppressed will inspire a new generation of educators, students, and general readers for years to come.  (Source)

Mentioned in episode 17

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A pattern language

By Christopher Alexander

Brief description

At the core of A Pattern Language is the philosophy that in designing their environments people always rely on certain ‘languages,’ which, like the languages we speak, allow them to articulate and communicate an infinite variety of designs within a formal system which gives them coherence.

This book provides a language of this kind. It will enable making a design for almost any kind of building, or any part of the built environment. ‘Patterns,’ the units of this language, are answers to design problems: how high should a window sill be?; how many stories should a building have?; how much space in a neighborhood should be devoted to grass and trees?

More than 250 of the patterns in this language are outlined, each consisting of a problem statement, a discussion of the problem with an illustration, and a solution. As the authors say in their introduction, many of the patterns are archetypal, so deeply rooted in the nature of things that it seems likely that they will be a part of human nature and human action as much in five hundred years as they are today. (Source)

Mentioned in episode 17

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Homo Deus

By Yuval Noah Harari

Brief description

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.

Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.

What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.

With the same insight and clarity that made Sapiens an international hit and a New York Times bestseller, Harari maps out our future.  (Source)

Mentioned in episode 14

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Massive change

By Bruce Mau, Jennifer Leonard, Institute Without Boundaries

Brief description

Massive Change is a modern illustrated primer on the new inventions, technologies, and events that are affecting the human race worldwide. The book is a part of a broader research project by Bruce Mau Design intended to provoke debate and discussion about the future of design culture, broadly defined as the "familiar objects and techniques that are transforming our lives."

In essays, interviews, and provocative imagery aimed at a broad audience, Massive Change explores the changing force of design in the contemporary world, and in doing so expands the definition of design to include the built environment, transportation technologies, revolutionary materials, energy and information systems, and living organisms.

The book is divided into 11 heavily illustrated sections covering major areas of change in contemporary society — such as urbanism and architecture, the military, health and living, and wealth and politics. Each section intersperses intriguing documentary images with a general introductory essay, extended captions, and interviews with leading thinkers, including engineers, designers, philosophers, scientists, architects, artists, and writers. Concluding the book is a graphic timeline of significant inventions and world events from 10,000 B.C. to the present. (Source)

Mentioned in episode 10

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Design for the Real World

By Victor Papanek

Brief Description

Design for the Real World has, since its first appearance twenty-five years ago, become a classic. Translated into twenty-three languages, it is one of the world's most widely read books on design. In this edition, Victor Papanek examines the attempts by designers to combat the tawdry, the unsafe, the frivolous, the useless product, once again providing a blueprint for sensible, responsible design in this world which is deficient in resources and energy. (Source)

Mentioned in episode 10

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Who owns the future?

By Jaron Lanier

Brief description

Jaron Lanier is the father of virtual reality and one of the world’s most brilliant thinkers. Who Owns the Future? is his visionary reckoning with the most urgent economic and social trend of our age: the poisonous concentration of money and power in our digital networks.

Lanier has predicted how technology will transform our humanity for decades, and his insight has never been more urgently needed. He shows how Siren Servers, which exploit big data and the free sharing of information, led our economy into recession, imperilled personal privacy, and hollowed out the middle class. The networks that define our world--including social media, financial institutions, and intelligence agencies--now threaten to destroy it. In this provocative, poetic, and deeply humane book, Lanier charts a path toward a brighter future: an information economy that rewards ordinary people for what they do and share on the web. (Source)

Mentioned in episode 10

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Designing Reality

By Neil Gershenfeld, Alan Gershenfeld, Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld

Brief description

That's the promise, and peril, of the third digital revolution, where anyone will be able to make (almost) anything
Two digital revolutions--computing and communication--have radically transformed our economy and lives. A third digital revolution is here: fabrication. Today's 3D printers are only the start of a trend, accelerating exponentially, to turn data into objects: Neil Gershenfeld and his collaborators ultimately aim to create a universal replicator straight out of Star Trek. While digital fabrication promises us self-sufficient cities and the ability to make (almost) anything, it could also lead to massive inequality. The first two digital revolutions caught most of the world flat-footed, thanks to Designing Reality that won't be true this time. (Source)

Mentioned in episode 10

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Learning from Extremes

Brief Description

In the next few decades, hundreds of millions of young, poor families will migrate to cities in the developing world in search of work and opportunity. Education provides them with a shared sense of hope. Many will be the first generation in their families to go to school. It is vital that the hopes they invest are not disappointed. 

Yet even in the developed world, education systems that were established more than a century ago still under-perform, mainly because they fail to reach and motivate large portions of the population. These ingrained problems of low aspiration and achievement among the most disinvested communities in the developed world are proving resistant to traditional treatment.