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A Geography Of Time

Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the July 1997 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine. Subscribe »

The city that never sleeps isn't the fasBODY-paced city in the nation? Strangely, no--at least according to author Robert Levine's calculations in A Geography of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist, or How Every Culture Keeps Time Just a Little Bit Differently (Basic Books, $24 cloth).

From the title, you might not guess this is a book for entrepreneurial readers. But in this age of the global economy, it clearly behooves small-business owners to know as much as they can about the marketplaces they're targeting. And, really, how we attempt to beat the clock reveals much about us. "After all," observes Levine, "the pace of our lives governs our experience of the passage of time. And how we move through time is, ultimately, the way we live our lives."

The way New York City residents live their lives, as chronicled in Levine's survey of 36 U.S. cities, places hem just slightly behind Beantown--a k a Boston--in terms of such factors as walking speed and the pace at which bank tellers work. Which city poses the most resemblance to the tortoise and not the hare? Survey says: Los Angeles.

Angelinos, however, are not nearly so leisurely as Brazilians. "Adjusting to the pace of life in Brazil, I figured, would call for no more than a bit of fine-tuning," writes Levine of the period he spent teaching in that country. "What I got instead was a dose of culture shock I wouldn't wish on a hijacker."

Reduce the risk of culture shock with a read of A Geography of Time.

The Dilbert Future

The future may be uncertain, but Dilbert's popularity is anything but. The weary--yet likable--cog stuck in the spokes of corporate machinery returns for more laughs in the bound-to-be-bestseller The Dilbert Future: Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st Century (HarperBusiness, $25 cloth).

In the 21st century world that Dilbert and the gang preview, inanity is as omnipresent as air itself. To
author Scott Adams' way of thinking, dealing with the gray-cell impaired ("Induhviduals") is the unfortunate reality. "I have compiled my predictions so you won't have any unpleasant surprises during the next millennium," he writes. "Any morning you're wondering whether it would be better to drown yourself in your cereal bowl or face 6 billion Induhviduals again, at least you'll be making an informed decision."

As was the case with previous outings, the best part of the book is the cartoons sprinkled liberally throughout. Sure, Adams offers amusing predictions on everything from future technology to the enormous profits to be made in drive-thru pet care, but it's still the comic strips that make the journey through The Dilbert Future a trip to remember.

Cyber Dictionary

We know what you're thinking: If it's a dictionary on computer terminology, it's got to be the most migraine-inducing tome on Earth. And yet we're genuinely enthusiastic about Cyber Dictionary: Your Guide to the Wired World (Knowledge Exchange LLC, $17.95 paper).

Call us crazy. Call us overly wired. But seriously, we expect techies and non-techies alike will be dazzled by the beautifully designed, colorful graphics in Cyber Dictionary. There probably isn't a more visually friendly computer text available on the market today.

Even more important, however, is that this tech dictionary is reader-friendly as well. Not just a compendium of fairly easy-to-understand definitions, it also includes informative sidebars that detail such matters of byte lore as why Apple Computer initially became so successful.

"Our world--and the words we use to describe it--have changed dramat-ically," warns computer industry icon David Morse in the book's introduction. "If you don't hop on the cyberexpress, you're going to be left at the station."

Consider this your boarding ticket.

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