The other day I got a note from a Danish guy who is a fan of my book OUT OF CONTROL. He found my ideas great but my presentation “frustrating.” But unlike my other “frustrated” readers, Andreas Lloyd decided to do something about it: he remixed my book!
I think the result is quite amazing. Remixing is perhaps too strong a word because he mostly simply dropped entire chapters, with a little re-arranging here and there. It is a very sharp but intelligent edit. But the effect is striking. Instead of a rambling book about one dozen things, Lloyd’s remix of my book focuses it on the cybernetic and feedback aspects of the systems I was reporting on in the early 1990s. I suggested this focus needed a better title than OUT OF CONTROL, which I never was happy with anyhow, so Lloyd came up with a new one for this version of the book. He calls it BOOTSTRAPPING COMPLEXITY.
So if you never read OUT OF CONTROL because you were put off my its length, here is a user-generated remix that shortens and focuses the book. You can read it on Lloyd’s website or even download the PDF. (I will post the PDF here on kk.org as well.)
Lloyd’s notes read thus:
Kevin Kelly’s book “Out of Control” is a fascinating book full of fascinating ideas reaching across the board from artificial intelligence, evolution, biology, ecology, robotics and more to explore complexity, cybernetics and self-organising systems in an accessible and engaging way.
But in reading Out of Control, I found it suffering from a number of frustrating flaws: Not only is it way too long-winded, it is also almost completely void of meta-text to help the reader understand what Kelly is trying to do with his book (having read the book, I’m still wondering).
Indeed, reading the book I got the feeling that Kelly was trying to combine several different books into one: There is a fascinating study of self-sustaining systems. But there is also a sort of business-book take on network economy. And an extended meditation on evolution and postdarwinism.
I’m sure that to Kelly, all of these things are tightly interconnected. But he doesn’t explain these interrelations very well to the reader. His central argument is that as technology becomes ever more complex, it becomes more akin to biological systems (eco-systems, vivisystems, interdependent and co-evolving organisms). But because the individual chapters are set up as essays on their own, there is often little to tie these wildly different ideas together.
I would have preferred a much shorter book, more narrowly focused on the idea of self-organising systems. The whole text of the original book is easily available online at Kelly’s own website, so I thought: Why not remix the online text to make such a book?
So I did.
I think Lloyd is a fantastic editor, and his fan-based work is exactly the kind of liquidity of text that I believe will propel books in the next century. His remix is the kind of literary fluidity I was talking about in my Scan This Book article for the New York Times.