I finished this book about a month ago after the US election and the 46th US President’s inauguration. It talks about how the Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan type Neoliberalism eventually became the infrastructure that led to Populism and White Nationalism’s recent rise. There is a good discussion on how the centrist liberal democratic political parties only bring about social change incrementally. In contrast, social democratic parties aim for the overhaul of the system for the wellbeing of humanity and the environment.
This book was emotionally difficult to read before the US election. But when President IQ45 lost the election, I decided to continue reading it to the end because I knew there would be a happy ending.
I first learned about Naomi Klein when I was a university student. One day I saw her book No Logo in a bookstore. Then I heard her interview on the TeamHuman Podcast and decided to buy a couple of her books. If you are left with many questions about the world’s state since 2016, Naomi Klein has good explanations in this book.
The first book that I read by Douglas Rushkoff was called Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, and I really enjoyed it. The name refers to the 2013 protests in San Francisco during which shuttle buses from Google and Apple were attacked and vandalized by the protestors.
Team Human is Rushkof’s most recent book that he published last February. He is a sociologist, university professor and, best selling author of several books. Terms such as “Program or be programmed” or “Viral Media” were first coined by him. You can read his bios on his website and Wikipedia page.
At first, I thought Team Human would be an updated CyberPunk manifesto by him. Still, after reading a few chapters, I realized that this isn’t about being a technology Luddite and attacking technological innovations. He is, in fact, very much in favour of technology that augments humanity.
Rushkoff is critical of technologies that are optimizing human behaviour for profit. For example, data mining and algorithms on social media, search engines, eCommerce websites, dating apps, and electronic music. He describes an era of post-colonialism after the invention of the Internet, where corporations are colonizing their own users, employees, and customers.
I didn’t know that Medieval clubs were a thing until I was at university. First time I saw them, I was in the men’s bathroom on UNBC campus, trying to pee, and then an army of medieval soldiers appeared behind me adjusting their gears and preparing for a battle. It was challenging to concentrate!
This book is the last publication by Hans Rosling, which was written in collaboration with his son and daughter in law and later published after his death in 2017. Rosling was a Swedish medical doctor, academic, and statistician. He was also one of the initiators of Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors Without Borders. You may know him from his famous presentations and TED Talk where he shows animated charts over a timeline and his lectures often ended by him swallowing a sword! The authors also founded the Gapminder Foundation. One of my dreams in my company rmdStudio is to someday do a project for the Doctors Without Borders organization.
I was expecting this book to be full of tiresome facts and charts, but instead, it turned out to be one of the best checklists on fact-checking news, publications, and claims. Dr. Rosling has accompanied every chapter with fascinating stories about him travelling to different parts of the world and helping countries who were dealing with dire medical situations. In one story, he wanted to obtain blood samples from people in a village to figure out the reason behind an unknown epidemic, but instead, he was surrounded by people who thought he needed the blood to perform black magic on them. They were about to chop him up to pieces with their machetes until an old lady in the crowd trusted his word and saved his life as a result.
I also think this book would be a great read for high school students who are developing their fact-checking skills. In a day and age where information is abundant, but fact-checking skills are rare, it’s never too early to get people started.
I think now I’m officially part of the Yuval Noah Harari’s cult after finishing his 3rd book and reading over 1300 pages of his material. His first book Sapiens was focused on the history of humanity. His second book Homo Deus was about the future of humanity. This one is about the present.
While in his first two books Harari sounds more academic, this book may come across as a self-help book helping us navigate yourself through the complexities of the 21st century. There are some reviews on The Guardian, Forbes, and The Washington Post if you like to learn more.
I think a lot of Harari’s readers discovered him because of this book, but may I recommend that you read the Sapiens and Homo Deus books first to enjoy a rich experience from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.
The 21 lessons cover areas such as work, war, nationalism, terrorism, religion, education, and medication. As a result of automation, workers will not only end up working for less money but also become entirely redundant. Wars aren’t as profitable as before, and that’s one reason that we haven’t had any major conflicts since World War II. Nationalism cannot solve world problems such as global warming, poverty, and disease epidemics and that’s why we need entities such as World Health Organization, and United Nations so all countries can organize and share resources. How sugar is killing more people than terrorism, and how terrorists use their limited resources to stage a theater of terror and even change governments.
One of my most favorite lessons is how in education we used to focus on memorizing facts and information because access to information was limited. Today we have an abundance of access to information, but Facts are the needle in the haystack of misinformation. That is why modern education better be focused on teaching fact-checking skills and the ability to tell facts from fake news.
The last lesson of the book is on medication and taking a mindful approach to world events and ourselves. Yuval Harari spends a month of every year on meditation. As someone who’s been meditating fifteen minutes a day for the last four years, I recommend both meditation and reading this book.
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