축적의 시간

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지난번 서울에 가서 최근 관심을 받고 있는 “축적의 시간”을 읽었다. 서울대 공대 교수님들이 최근 한국 경제의 상황을 보고 앞으로 나가야 할 방향을 제시한 책이라고 해서 관심을 가지고 읽었다. 주요 내용은 다음과 같다. 한국 경제는 지난 50년 엄청난 발전을 했다. 그 발전의 핵심은 집중과 선택을 통한 압축 성장이다. 그것을 위해서 선진국이 개발한 모델을 빨리 상업화 하는 성공을 했고, 그것이 한국기업들이 세계적인 기업으로 성장을 하는데에 밑바탕이 되었다. 그러나, 이제 그런 모델은 한계점에 도달했다. 이와 같은 한계점의 핵심에는 한국기업와 한국인들에게 부족한 개념디자인의 능력이며, 그와 같은 개념 디자인의 능력은 축적의 시간을 통해서만 이루어질 수 있다. 이것이 대충 전체적인 내용이다. 이와 같은 내용이 각 세부분야별로 나누어져서 구체적이고 반복적으로 다루어져 있다. 이 책을 읽고 다음과 같은 생각이 든다. 

1. 축적의 시간 – 이것은 과거에 윤석철 교수님께서 “우회축적”이라는 개념으로 설명을 했었던 내용이다. 왜 이 내용이 새삼스러운 내용이 되는지 잘 모르겠다. 한국의 근대 개발사의 측면에서 보면 참으로 안타까운 일이라고 생각이 된다.

2. 개념디자인 능력의 부재 – 개념디자인 능력의 부재는 근대에 들어와서 생긴 문제라고 생각이 된다. 역사적으로 보면 한국 민족은 많은 새로운 개념을 만들어 낸 경험을 가지고 있다. 빨리 정답부터 찾아야만 하는 생존의 조급함에서 나온 행태가 개념을 깊이 생각지 않는 그런 상황으로 가지고 같다고 볼 수 있다. 또 다른 하나는, 개념디자인을 우리가 다 못하는 것은 아니다. 개념디자인을 해도 그런 개념디자인이 먹혀 들어가지 않는 조직 문화적, 구조적, 정치적 문제를 함께 생각할 필요가 있다. 

3. 정답이 없다 – 가장 답답했던 부분은 이 책을 읽어도 뾰족한 답이 없다. 책의 대부분이 문제제기이다. 그리고 그 문제도 한국 경제와 조직 시스템에 관심을 가지고 있는 사람이면 한두번쯤은 고민을 했을 부분이다. 그런 부분을 자신의 개인적인 경험과 주관적인 생각을 중심으로 다루고 있다. 그래서 어떤 학문적인, 체계적인, 검증이 된 답이 보이질 않는다. 어떤 의미에서 개념디자인이 없는 정담이라고 할까? 

4. 경영대교수님들은 뭘 하고 있나? – 그래도 공과대학교수님들은 자신들의 돈으로 자신들의 시간으로 이런 책이라도 내는데, 기업 경영과 가장 가까운 거리에 서있는 서울대경영학과 교수님들은 지금 뭘하고 있을까? 

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Books I read recently

These are few books I have read over the last several weeks as I was traveling.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl – Simply a classic. The power of discovering meaning in all we do. 

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Diversity and Complexity by Scott Page — A good introduction to evolutionary thinking to think about diversity in social, technical and biological systems. I like the chapter 3 where he deals with different mechanisms for producing variations.

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Smart Cities by Anthony Townsend — The book covers a wide range of topics related to the new digital urbanism. While the idea is not old, many of the examples are already dated. Toward the end, the book seems to focus too much on civic hacking over other more technological visions of smart cities. But it is a good historical overview of various strands of developments that collide under the umbrella of smart cities. It is worth reading.

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Complexity: A guided tour by Melanie Mitchell — As the title says, a guided tour of complexity from various fields. Currently re-reading it with undergraduate students who have joined my research group over the summer.

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[4주 해독 다이어트][몸이 먼저다] 건강하게 살아야겠다는 의지를 갖도록 자극을 주는 효과는 있으나, 독자의 실천력이 떨어지는 고로 특별한 결과는 없음. 4주 해독 다이어트의 경우 아직, 1주를 넘어가지 못했음. 그래도 배운 것은 많다.

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[정도전과 그의 시대] 요즘 한국에서 유행이라는 정도전을 보지 못했으나, 본래 정도전을 좋아하는 지라, 한국에 가서 구입한 후 읽음. 미국 의회민주주의의 논리적 기초를 만든 사람이 Thmoas Jefferson이라면, 세종 시대에 꽃을 피운 조선형 민본중심의 제상중심의 정치시스템의 논리적 기초를 만든 사람은 정도전. 그분의 사상의 근본이 중국고전에 나오는 ‘대동사회’라는 사실을 배웠다. 저자는 대동사회를 이렇게 표현하고 있다.

대도가 행해졌을 때는, 천하가 공공의 것이어서, 어질고 능력있는 사람을 뽑아서 믿음을 가르치고 화목하게 만들었다. 그래서 그때는 자기의 부모만을 부모로 여기지 않았고, 자기의 자식만을 자식으로 여기지 않았다. 늙은이는 편안하게 일생을 마치게 했으며, 장정은 다 직업이 있었고, 어린 아이는 잘 자랄 수 있었다. 과부, 홀아비, 고아, 병든 자를 불쌍히 여겨서 다 봉양했다. 남자는 직업이 있었고, 여자는 돌아갈 곳, 즉 시집갈 곳이 있었다. 그 재물을 땅에 버리는 것은 미워했지만, 반드시 자기를 위해 쌓아두지는 않았다. 힘이 그 몸에서 나오지 않는 것은 미워했지만, 반드시 자기만을 위해서 일하지는 않았다. 이런 까닭에 간사한 꾀가 막혀서 일어나지 못했다. 도둑이 훔치거나 도적이 난을 일으키지 못했다. 그래서 바깥문을 닫지 않았다. 이를 이르러 대동이라고 한다.

이런 대동사회에서 살고 싶지 않은가?

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[세종이라면] 존경하는 박현모 선생님이 쓰신 세종이야기. 특별히 세종이 경연을 통해서 어떻게 생각을 모으고 비젼을 제시하며 실천의 힘을 얻었는 지에 관해서 배울 수가 있었다. 생생지락을 추구했던 세종도 아마도 대동사회를 꿈꾼듯 하다. 한글을 창제한 목적 중의 하나가 백성이 법을 제대로 알아서 억울한 경우를 당하지 않도록 하기 위함이라는 박현모선생님의 주장은 깊은 감동이 있다. 그리고 수령을 파견할 때, 세종이 직접 인터뷰를 하고 백성을 섬기는 수령이 되라고 직접 당부를 했다는 사실 또한 감동이다. 비록 지금은 이런 지도자가 없어도, 이런 지도자를 가진 적이 있는 민족이라는 사실하나로 감사하다.

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[여행 레시피] 이번에 서울에서 돌아오는 길에 공항 서점에서 충동적으로 산 책. 씨레기. 괜히 샀다.

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I will soon post couple of books that I am finishing up soon.

The Artisan Soul

I started reading “The Artisan Soul” by Erwin McManus. It is a great book and I would recommend to anyone who is interested in creativity and design, whether you are a Christian or not. McManus sees us as “inherently creative beings” who live with “the fear that if we aspire to be more we will discover ourselves to be less.” For him, to live is to create; and to create is to embrace risk. He notes, “[t]he past will be our future until we have the courage to create a new one.” This is exactly the point of path creation and institutional entrepreneurship. And, for him, everyone should strive to be creative and the most important creative outcome should be our own lives. The quality that we strive for is not “great” but “good”. He notes, “[g]reat is about execution and achievement; good is about essence and ethos.” We all should aspire to do great work, he argues, without neglecting the importance of being inspired by all that is good and beautiful. In that sense, the Artisan Soul is a “good” book.

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[reading] Program or be Programmed

I saw a video presentation by Douglass Rushkoff at Google recently. The main these of his talk was the fact that digital technology is different from other technologies as it can be programmed. Since it is one of the arguments that I have been making recently about digital technology, it picked my interest. (The other key attribute of digital technology is the homogeneity of information as represented by bits and that is about the other reading project, “the Information” written by J. Gleick, that I am currently doing now). I really like his argument about computer being “anything machine”. It reminded me my first first experience with Apple II. Of course, I got it along with few programs. But by and large, it was an empty machine that was waiting to be programmed. I started to learn how to program in BASIC and soon Pascal and FORTRAN on CP/M, doing silly things that every body else had already done many times. It was exhilarating experience anyway, as I was building something of my own. I was hooked.

In the book, Rushkoff makes an argument that in the digital era, there are two modes of being — to program or to be programmed. He then takes the premise as a basic analytical framework to analyze how digital technology affects our basic experiences in time, space, choice, identity, social, etc. in 10 chapters. I have finished only the first chapter which is about our temporal experience. While I like his approach to the subject much more than I did with the writing of Nicholas Carr who wrote “Shallow”, I flet that Rushkoff fell into a similar trap of romanticizing the past unwarrantedly. If Carr romanticized the traditional society where we were still reading books and newspapers printed on paper, Rushkoff did the same with the early era of the Internet before we were connected to “always on” machines that vibrates each time someone sends us an email or post a message on our Facebook wall. He describes that the communication back then was much more reflective and thoughtful. He argues that because back then, we could “pause” and think more before we replied through asynchronous media such as bulletin board, our messages were more meaningful. Yet, it was precisely then when the idea of “flaming” was introduced by early scholars like Sarah Kiesler and Lee Sproull who studied the same asynchronous media that Rushkoff mentions. Of course, there are more thoughtless messages being sent around as people around the globe are constantly updating their status in 140 words. But at the same, one might find that the number of thoughtful messages and comments has increased just as well. Who knows? Of course, I send more messages with typos with the help of my IPhone. But I am not sure if I became more thoughtless in general. Perhaps. My wife can tell me that. But then, she always finds many of my actions thoughtless anyway. So, it is hard for me to believe that iPhone or Blackberry (which I had before I got an iPhone) is at fault here.

Well, I only read one chapter and the book is interesting. I am sure I will find more to agree with him as I go along. I just wanted to share my thoughts as quickly as possible. Oops. Rushkoff was right. I should have paused before I post this.

Books on writing

I have made few suggestions on books on writing in my Philosophy of Science class. Here are the links of those books.


“The Elements of Style (4th Edition)” (William Strunk, E. B. White) – This is a classic.

 


“Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition” (American Psychological Association (APA)) – A must-have as a technical guide for formatting, style, and conventions for journal articles.

 


“The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well” (Paula LaRocque) – It is written for fiction writers. Yet, I found it helpful.

 


“Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article: Second Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)” (Howard S. Becker) – It is a fun book to read. When you don’t want to write or feel like you can’t write, read this book. It might get you going again.

 


“Death Sentences : How Cliches, Weasel Words and Management-Speak Are Strangling Public Language” (Don Watson) – I would like to assign this book as a required reading for MBA students. This book shows how business lanugage filled with empty words and hollow jargons erode our ability to think and communicate ideas. “At the end of the day, the bottom line is it is what it is.”

 


“Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” (Lynne Truss) – It does not need an explanation.

“Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English, 3rd Edition” (Patricia T. O’Conner) – As non-native speaker, I found this book useful as a guide for English grammar.

 


“Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer” (Roy Peter Clark) – I found this book at a local book store. It is filled with many useful practical suggestions on writing. I particularly like the last section, “Useful Habits.”

 

 


“If You Want To Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit” (Brenda Ueland) – A generally wonderful book on artistic expression and self-discovery, this affirms that we are all filled with imaginative possibilities.

 


“How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines” (Thomas C. Foster) – This is a not a book on writing. Rather, it is a book on reading. But it explains many of the devices that good writers use, which can be useful tools for writers who want to write.

Books for Philosophy of Science

Here are the books that we will be reading this semester.

 

A review of Knowing Christ Today

“Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge” (Dallas Willard)

I read “Knowing Christ Today”, a book written by Dallas Willard who is a Professor of Philosophy at University of Southern California on my flight back from Sweden yesterday. Drawing on the writing of Plato, Aristotle, Jürgen Habermas, Peter Berger and CS. Lewis and invoking the image of Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa, Kierkegaard, he discusses what it means to “know” spiritual reality of Christ in this pluralistic world. With a rare mix of intellectual integrity and the passionate conviction of personal faith, he lucidly deals with complex issues that many Christians (or any one who’s is interested in spirituality and religion) are facing today. His discussion on the relationship between Christian Gospel and Christian pluralism offers a hopeful way going forward and serious intellectual and spiritual challenge to both Christian (conservative and progressive alike) and non-Christians. If you are in for faith and religion, and their relationship with knowledge and plurality, I strongly recommend this one for you.

re-imgainging as an act of design

As I am re-reading Designing Design for my class, I came to the following passage from the first chapter, What is Design?, of the book.

Today’s designers are beginning to realize that endless possibilities for design lie dormant not just in the new situations brought on by technology, but also in the common circumstances of our daily lives. Creation of novel things is not the only creativity. The sensibility that allows one to rediscover the unknown in the familiar is equally creative. We hold a great accumulation of culture in our own hands, yet we remain unaware of its value. The ability to make use of these cultural assets as a virgin resource is no less creative than the ability to produce something out of nothing. Beneath our feet lies a gigantic, untouched vein of ore. Just as simply donning sunglasses makes the world look fresher to us, there is an unlimited number of ways of looking at things, and most of them haven’t been discovered yet. To awaken and activate those new ways of perceiving things is to enrich our cognitive faculty, and this relates to the enrichment of the relationship between objects and human beings. Design is not the act of amazing an audience with the novelty of forms or materials; it is the originality that repeatedly extracts astounding ideas from the crevices of the very commonness of everyday life. Designers who have inherited the legacy of modernism and shoulder the new century have gradually begun to explore their consciousness of that fact.

Well said.

Soloist — the Movie

I read the book, Soloist, last year and was greatly moved and touched by the story. So, when I heard that they were movie making out of the book, I was excited. Finally, after many weeks of resistance, my wife relented and borrowed it from RedBox (by the way, there is an interesting story on RedBox on New York Times today.) She is a cellist and does not like movies featuring cello as they generally do not represent cello-playing accurately. This was not an exception — after seeing the trailer, she was already disappointed and refused to watch it. Until yesterday, although she did not finish watching it.

After watching the movie, I was quite disappointed by the movie. The storytelling was flat, failing to bring the richness of the original story as represented in the book. The cellist from the LA Philharmonics was depicted as a comical figure at best, although in the book, the cellist was represented as a much more thoughtful person. I am not sure which one is a true representation and how the cellist feels about his character in the movie. Furthermore, even though I am not a musician, I was disappointed that the actor who played Mr. Ayer did not bother to learn the most basic posture and fingering techniques for cello playing. At the basic minimum, he should have tried vibrato when he plays cello. After all, Mr. Ayers went to Juilliard and I cannot imagine Juilliard letting anyone in who can’t do vibrato properly! In fact, when I saw real Mr. Ayers playing cello, I felt that he was overdoing his vibrato. So, it was obvious the actor did not study Mr. Ayers and his cello playing enough. I was however moved by the fact that the movie actually had people at the Lamp Community.

So, for those who haven’t watched the movie, I would recommend to get a copy of the book instead. You will never know how Mr. Ayers met Yo-Yo Ma at the end of the book, if you only watch the movie.