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am 4. Dezember 1999
While lots of authors look for a simplistic "single cause" of collapse (that another reviewer seems to have bought into!) Tainter's view is a lot more global. Single causes? Maybe...but they all have a common element: declining marginal return for additional effort. That's the underlying issue that sparked massive protest at the WTO meetings in Seattle. Folks are working harder and harder just to stay even. If Y2K'ers don't understand that our marginal rate of return has headed south, they're missing Tainter's point.
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am 31. August 1999
Yourdon recommends Joseph Tainter's book, _The Collapse of Complex Societies_ (1988).
From a Y2K perspective, after a quick skim, not sure it is worth reading unless you are really interested in detailed history and economics. This book does not attempt to describe the collapses or provide especially helpful info in our context, I think.
The author IS rather proud of himself, though, as he beats up on many other theories of how civilizations collapse (e.g., Roman, Mayan). Other authors have proposed causes such as:
1. Depletion of vital resources, 2. Discovery of brand new resources, 3. Catastrophes, 4. Insufficient response to circumstances, 5. Competition from other complex societies, 6. Intruders, 7. Class conflict, societal contradictions, elite mismanagement/misbehavior, 8. Social dysfunction, 9. Mystical, 10. Chance concatenation of bad things
He says the cause is not these things, but instead, the fact that the society had achieved a level of complexity such that the economic overhead for maintaining the bureaucracy, etc was so great that the society was weakened. Then, when items like 1-10 occur, the society is less able to handle it.
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