Top 5 P2P Books of the Week

1) Social Ecology and Communalism, by Murray Bookchin
(From the AK Press website)

“We are standing at a crucial crossroads. Not only does the age-old ‘social question’ concerning the exploitation of human labor remain unresolved, but the plundering of natural resources has reached a point where humanity is also forced to politically deal with an ‘ecological question.’ Today, we have to make conscious choices about what direction society should take to properly meet these challenges…

“This is a highly accessible introduction to Social Ecology and Communalism, as it has been developed by one of the most exciting and pioneering thinkers of the twentieth century. Murray Bookchin’s political philosophy suggests that the solution to the enormous social and ecological problems we face today fundamentally lies in the formation of a new citizenry, its empowerment through new political institutions, and a new political culture.”

—Eirik Eiglad, from the Introduction

These four essays, written between 1989 and 2002 and collected here for the first time in this volume, provide an excellent overview of Murray Bookchin’s political philosophy.

Murray Bookchin (1921–2006) was a life-long radical—a trade unionist in the 1930s and 1940s, an innovative social theorist through the 1960s, a leading participant in the anti-nuclear wing of the Greens in the 1970s and 1980s, and co-founder of the Institute for Social Ecology. He was a prolific author and important thinker.Editor Eirik Eiglad has been involved with the ideas and politics of social ecology for more than fifteen years. He edits the journal Communalism.

2) Giving Knowledge Away for Free, by OECD
(From the
eLearning blog)

OECD has just published a new book, called “Giving Knowledge Away for Free”, and has made it available as a free eBook. OECD wrote “Learning resources are often considered key intellectual property in a competitive higher education world. However, more and more institutions and individuals are sharing their digital learning resources over the Internet, openly and for free, as Open Educational Resources (OER). This study, building on previous OECD work on e-learning, asks why this is happening, who is involved and what the most important implications of this development are.”

3) Why Good Things Happen to Good People, by Stephen Post, Ph.D. and Jill Neimark

It turns out that giving — far more than receiving — is a surprisingly potent force whose impact reverberates across an entire lifetime, nourishing health and happiness in astonishing ways. That’s the message of Why Good Things Happen to Good People, which weaves new science with profoundly moving real-life stories. Dr. Stephen Post’s institute has funded over fifty studies — from the likes of Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, and the University of Chicago — to support scientific research on the life-enhancing benefits of caring.

4) Rule The Web: How to do Anything and Everything on the Internet — Better, Faster, Easier, by Mark Frauenfelder
(Via The Boston Globe)

Frauenfelder’s “Rule the Web” includes tips on: starting a blog, getting word-of-mouth publicity for it, and following other blogs with an RSS reader; setting up a private wiki, joining an online social network that’s right for you, and sharing digital photos; browsing the Web free from viruses, ads, and spyware; shopping and selling online; downloading music and videos; using the Internet to become more productive at work and at play; protecting and tuning up your computer and software; and much more.

The book was published earlier this month, and instead of browsing through it, I’ve been carefully reading it from the first page forward. Thanks to Frauenfelder, I’ve finally figured out how to add a message board to any website (via QuickTopic), find photos online that I can use for free (via Open Photo, Flickr, and Creative Commons), edit and retouch photos online (via Snipshot), find unlisted phone numbers (via Zabasearch), and more — and that was just the first two chapters. Phew!

5) The Social Atom: Why the Rich Get Richer, Cheaters Get Caught, and Your Neighbor Usually Looks Like You, by Mark Buchanan
(From the
Bloomsbury USA website)

For readers of Freakonomics and The Wisdom of Crowds, an enlightening introduction to a groundbreaking physics-based view of the social world that reveals the essential simplicity of human behavior.

The idiosyncrasies of human decision-making have confounded economists and social theorists for years. If each person makes choices for personal (and often irrational) reasons, how can people’s choices be predicted by a single theory? How can any economic, social, or political theory be valid? The truth is, none of them really are.

Mark Buchanan makes the fascinating argument that the science of physics is beginning to provide a new picture of the human or “social atom,” and help us understand the surprising, and often predictable, patterns that emerge when they get together. Look at patterns, not people, Buchanan argues, and rules emerge that can explain how movements form, how interest groups operate, and even why ethnic hatred persists. Using similar observations, social physicists can predict whether neighborhoods will integrate, whether stock markets will crash, and whether crime waves will continue or abate.

Brimming with mind games and provocative experiments, The Social Atom is an incisive, accessible, and comprehensive argument for a whole new way to look at human social behavior.

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