Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple) (2008) by Jeffrey Kluger is my first foray into reviewing a Advance Reading Copy of a book by of the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. Or maybe not since I saw this book last week in the window at Harvard Book Store. At any rate, this is a brand new book and it’s a popular science exploration of the idea of complexity and simplicity or how simple things can more complicated than they seem, and complex things more simple.
Kluger refers to the work that’s being done in the study of complexity at places like the Santa Fe Institute. Then he dedicates each chapter to the concept of simplexity in every day life in areas such as markets, crowd psychology, social structure, business, death, sports, fear, childhood development, liguistics, technology, public health, and the arts. Particularly nice is his appreciation that hard-working blue color labor is overworked and underpaid. It’s hard to say whether or not Kluger sticks with his thesis, or just writes about a bunch of interesting things but either way it is a fun, breezy read that provokes thoughts and ideas.
I was struck by how many books I’ve read recently shared some basic concepts with this book. I suppose at the very least Simplexity can be a good summary of a lot of recent literature, but better than that it can be a jumping off point to reading these other books. Unfortunately, Simplexity does not have a bibliography (or even an index!) so here related books I’d reccomend, some of which were mentioned in the text:
- Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson
- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Stephen J. Dubner
- False Alarm: The Truth about the Epidemic of Fear by Marc Siegel
- The Scientist in the Crib: Minds, Brains, and How Children Learn by Alison Gopnik, Andrew N. Meltzoff, & Patricia K. Kuhl
- Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order by Steven Strogatz
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
- The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki
Books I’ve read previously by this author:
Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple) by Jeffrey Kluger. Hyperion (2008), Hardcover, 336 pages