Of course I wouldn’t finish two books and not begin two more… Three, actually, but I’m choosing not to write about Managing 21st Century Libraries, reserving the right to change my mind if it proves interesting. I will, however, write about these two: Schopenhauer’s Porcupines by Deborah Anna Luepnitz and The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom. The first was another recommendation. Subtitle: “Intimacy and Its Dilemmas.” Now, before you write it off as some self-help-ish psychobabble, let me tell you the porcupine fable on which the five stories within the volume are based…
Basically, there is a group of porcupines. Maybe just two, but anyway, more than one. It’s a very, very cold night, and they want to stay warm. So they move closer to one another, but they stab each other with their quills. They move apart, but get cold, move together and stab. And so on. They need to find a balance between being cold and being hurt. I think it’s a pretty beautiful metaphor for relationships (at least mine), and I look forward to reading the stories inside. ….I should say that someone commented yesterday that “they must have sex somehow,” which is true but not the point. Damn it.
And the Starfish and the Spider is based on another metaphor involving animals. It’s a pop-management book, and I’m reading it for my class (we have to review something that might have something to do with libraries and management, so I figured I’d pick a one that was at least somewhat entertaining). Here’s the idea behind this one: If you sever an arm of a starfish, it grows a new one… even two arms — they grow back. If you cut off a spider’s leg, it functions okay, but never really recovers. And if you cut off a spider’s head, it dies. The authors compare most organizations to spiders, but a few organizations (al Qaida, Skype, Wikipedia, the internet, and the Apache tribe) to starfish. There really isn’t a leader, so when a member is taken out, the organization recovers quickly. Interesting, especially in terms of information management.
I’ll leave you with this cute picture of porcupines, titled winter. You can buy a print at Pretty Darn Swell if you want to. For you or for me.