Signs that the recession is about to end are here. So what comes next? Growth will resume. But economic uncertainty will worsen, making what comes next not just a boom but a nerve-shattering Sonic Boom. Gregg Easterbrook, who "writes nothing that is not brilliant" (Chicago Tribune), is a fount of unconventional wisdom, and over time, he is almost always proven right. Throughout 2008 and 2009, as the global economy was contracting and the experts were panicking, Easterbrook worked on a book saying prosperity is about to make its next big leap. Will he be right again?
Sonic Boom: Globalization at Mach Speed presents three basic insights. First, if you don't like globalization, brace yourself, because globalization has barely started. Easterbrook contends the world is about to become far more globally linked. Second, the next wave of global change will be primarily positive: economic prosperity, knowledge, and freedom will increase more in the next 50 years than in all of human history to this point. But before you celebrate, Easterbrook further warns that the next phase of global change is going to drive us crazy. Most things will be good for most people but nothing will seem certain for anyone.
Each Sonic Boom chapter is based on examples of cities around the world, in the United States, Europe, Russia, China, and South America, that represent a significant Sonic Boom trend.
With a terrific sense of humor, pitch-perfect reporting and clear, elegant prose, Easterbrook explains why economic recovery is on the horizon but why the next phase of global change will also give everyone one hell of a headache. Forbes calls Easterbrook "the best writer on complex topics in the United States" and Sonic Boom will show you why.
©2009 Gregg Easterbrook (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"A book that is both a pleasure to read and a valuable corrective to the gloom that currently envelopes us.... Easterbrook tells his story well, with social portraiture, striking facts and sharp anecdotes aimed at puncturing common misconceptions about economic change.... As for the economic crisis that has just nearly ruined us, Mr. Easterbrook reminds us, in one of the many apercus that enliven Sonic Boom, that capitalism is the only economic system in history that is rendered stronger by its own instability." (The Wall Street Journal)
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"The Ed Tech Sonic Boom"
Greg Easterbrook is making two big arguments in Sonic Boom: Globalization at Mach Speed.
Future Prosperity: Due to a combination of global trade, the spread of information technology, and the movement toward representative democracies, the 21st century will usher in unprecedented levels and diffusion of global prosperity.
Current Anxiety: The growth of prosperity will probably fail to make us happy. Instead, the ascendance of entrepreneurial capitalism and the rise of knowledge work at the expense of institutions, stability and security will make us all more anxious.
This seems to be a fair description of how life within the higher ed world will unfold as well.
Would anyone trade the your college experience to the one that our kids will be able to receive? When I was in college the predominant instructional methodology was a lecturer talking at us for 50 minutes at a time. We had some great lecturers, and some lousy lecturers, and basically we accepted that this is how things were and we were lucky if we happened to take a course with a dynamic and passionate teacher.
Today, we are able to leverage a set of well-developed and stable technologies to build in pedagogically advanced active learning methods into a wide variety of courses and modes of instructional delivery. To be a great teacher it is no longer a prerequisite to be a dynamic and gifted lecturer. Rather, faculty can partner with learning designers, librarians, and teaching specialists to create dynamic, student-centered courses that allow students interact and create with the curriculum in ways that were impossible before the advent of technology enabled and supported classes.
However, these improvements in course quality made possible by the pairing of learning design methods and technology have brought with them a new set of challenges. Life was perhaps simpler back in the days when I first started to teach (in mid 1990s), when course design primarily meant crafting a syllabus. Yes, we had Scantron machines transparencies and PowerPoint, but we did not have the tools to enable active learning within a large course setting. We could make the lecture better at the margins, more class discussion - small groups etc., but the basic format of delivery was basically set. Today, students and progressive faculty I think expect that we can do better - and that every class is an opportunity to experiment with methods to encourage our students to transition from the passive to active mode. We know that learning is both social and requires engagement, we don't retain what we don't manipulate and create.
All these opportunities for improved teaching mean that we all end up spending more time on our classes and more time experimenting (and sometimes failing) with new teaching methods and tools. This shift also means that we need to shift resources and inputs into the teaching process, a change in the productivity equation that can (and should) disrupt the traditional economics of higher ed.
Easterbrook is convinced that the next few years will bring about opportunities and challenges that can scarcely be imagined, but will leave us all better off as individuals and as a society. I think we are in for a similar ride in higher ed.
Are any of you planning on reading Sonic Boom? I think that this would be an amazing book to teach a 1 credit mini course around. Easterbrook does a good job of reading his own work in the audiobook format. His last book, The Progress Paradox, is one of my all-time favorites. Sonic Boom is a terrific follow-up.
"A bit too America-centric"
The book is ostensibly about a global phenomenon yet the examples are disproportionately American. I found it disappointing in that respect. Nevertheless I blitzed through it in 2 days because it is a good book that is well read.
"Good Book for Seeing the "Big Picture""
Having just finished "The Science of Fear" and "The Ascent of Money," this book completed a nice trilogy of books that helped to put things in perspective and give a "Big Picture" view of current trends and the world situations. (If only the author was not the reader....it takes quite a while to get over his lack of expressiveness in reading. A better reader would have earned it 5 stars from me. And, yes, it hurts to say that as a loyal reader of Easterbrook's TMQ column.) I enjoyed how he stepped back from the crisis of the moment and made his case for broader trends with specific examples. I learned a lot about positive aspects of globalization that aren't "flashy" or "scary" enough to make it into regular media feeds but are FAR more important than what we are normally exposed to in the headlines. After hearing these three books in a row (with other fun fiction in between) I find myself less alarmed by what the media keeps telling me that I need to be upset or scared about and I follow the news with a bit more critical eye. Curiously, I shared these with my father and he came away with similar reactions - even though he and I are from fairly different political perspectives. He already plans to listen to some of these again in the future - something he rarely does. I think I might, too.
"Not Politically Biased"
Based on the title, I expected this book to lean politically to the left. To my delight, it does not.
It was a well written book with lots of stats. I enjoyed it very much.
I read all the current books on Finance, Economics, & Business. Most of them are good, some are great, but "Sonic Boom" is horrible. Author is writing on a High School level.
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