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Book Review: Dark Age Ahead

Best known for the books The Death and Life of Great American Citiesand Systems of Survival, Jane Jacob's once again hits it out of the ballpark with Dark Age Ahead. She warns us of common patterns which societies experience, patterns which lead to cultural dead ends. She describes "five pillars" that our society depends on: Community and family, higher education, the effective practice of science and science-based technology, effective taxation, and self-policing by the learned professions. Although the book title is ominous, I prefer to take it as a warning sign that we may be in trouble and we need to do something about it while we still can.

So why should you care? First, like all of Jacob's other books, this book is a really provocative read which will get you really thinking about the society in which we live. Second, for IT professionals the chapters on education and certification, as well as on self-policing of the professions, provides significant insight into how we need to evolve our profession. Are we really providing computer science graduates with an education, or are we merely certifying that graduates are worthy of a job interview? Do our existing certification programs provide any real value, or are they simply a money grab on the part of the certifiers? Should we set up a body which polices IT professionals? Would we be able to do so in a manner which provides any value at all? These are all interesting questions, and although this book may not directly provide the answers it will provide interesting insight.

Dark Age Ahead

Jane Jacobs

Vintage, 2005


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