Of Ants and Men

The Unexpected Side Effects of Complexity in Society

Authors: Green, David G.

  • Fascinating popular book on how complexity affects society and people relates our growing knowledge of complexity in a social context to events in people’s everyday lives
  • Provides the reader with a totally new perspective of his daily routines and life and why we often do things without realizing the consequences
  • State-of-Artbook
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  • ISBN 978-3-642-55230-4
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Softcover $27.99
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  • ISBN 978-3-642-55229-8
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About this book

Why do things go wrong? Why, despite all the planning and care in the world, do things go from bad to worse? This book argues that it is because we are like the ants. Just as ants create an anthill without being aware of it, unintended side effects of human activity create all manner of social trends and crises. The book traces the way these trends emerge and the role they play in some of the major issues of our time. One of the greatest challenges today is the complexity of our social and economic systems. Every action has side effects that people often ignore or fail to see. The book examines the ways in which limitations in our thinking and behaviour lead to unintended side effects. It looks at the role played by complex networks of interactions. Finally, it looks at the way side effects of new technologies, especially computers and communication, have created an Information Revolution, the full repercussions of which are yet to be seen. In our race to create new technologies and sustain indefinite economic growth, we are at best dimly aware of the ways in which we are transforming society and threatening our environment.

About the authors

About the author

David Green is Professor of Information Technology at Monash University. He is internationally well-known for his research on complexity, especially the fundamental role played by networks. In the course of thirty-five years of research he has investigated the problems posed by complexity in fields as diverse as forest ecology, proteins and social networks. An early pioneer of the World Wide Web as a distributed information resource, he also contributed to national and international efforts to create comprehensive information resources about the world's biodiversity and environments. His other recent books include Complexity in Landscape Ecology and Dual Phase Evolution.

Competitive literature

Understanding social complexity is a huge challenge. The past decade has seen a host of books that begin to tackle the problem, each tackling some aspect of the problem. Examples include: The Tipping Point (Gladwell); Black Swans (Talleb); The Singularity Is Near (Kurzweil); The Wisdom of Crowds (Surowiecki); A Short History of Progress (Wright); Faster (Gleick) and Critical Mass (Ball). Each of these books deals with slices of the problem. Of Ants and Men shows how all of these issues fits into the emerging bigger picture of social complexity.

Table of contents (20 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $19.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-642-55230-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $27.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-642-55229-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Rent the ebook  
  • Rental duration: 1 or 6 month
  • low-cost access
  • online reader with highlighting and note-making option
  • can be used across all devices
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Of Ants and Men
Book Subtitle
The Unexpected Side Effects of Complexity in Society
Authors
Copyright
2014
Publisher
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Copyright Holder
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
eBook ISBN
978-3-642-55230-4
DOI
10.1007/978-3-642-55230-4
Softcover ISBN
978-3-642-55229-8
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XI, 271
Number of Illustrations and Tables
29 b/w illustrations
Topics