, Buffalo, New York
Howard Bloom is currently a Visiting Scholar at New York University, and the founder of The International Paleopsychology Project. He is editor of the New Paradigm book series, a founding board member of the Epic of Evolution Society, and a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, the National Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Society, the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, The International Society of Human Ethology, and the Academy of Political Science.
After graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from New York University, Bloom turned down more traditional scholarly avenues, and struck out to explore mass psychology on his own terms by entering the business end of the entertainment industry. He edited magazines, and became quite successful in the music industry. Rolling Stone credits him with inventing the heavy metal magazine genre, despite being a die hard fan of classical music. Bloom has been quoted as saying that this was because he treated heavy metal as seriously as if it were classical music at a time when nobody else believed that it required any talent. Notable pop artists he has worked with include Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, The Talking Heads, AC/DC and Billy Idol among many others. His background in mass psychology made him good at trendspotting, and lead him to be at least partially to thank (or blame, depending on your point of view) for disco, punk rock, rap, and of course, heavy metal. In 1988, Bloom retired from the Music Biz due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
In 1981 Bloom began assembling work for what would later become The Lucifer Principle. When it was finally published 14 years later, it was quickly acclaimed by 22 well respected scientists, and caused a small controvercy over its assertion that fundamentalist Islam was a "killer culture" (it might be worth noting that Howard Bloom is Jewish).
In 1997 he founded the discipline of paleopsychology, which seeks to "map out the evolution of complexity, sociality, perception, and mentation from the first 10(-32) second of the Big Bang to the present."
Reading Howard Bloom feels exactly like a good work of nonfiction should feel. His words are lively and interesting. His tone is conversational without wandering. The scope of his books are both incredibly wide, but the chapters themselves are sharply focused, which further allows the reader to set their own pace as they consider everything Bloom is trying to get across.
Bloom's theories are on the bleeding edge of anthropology and memetics, so anyone with an interest in those fields should immediately give at least something of Bloom's a once-over. This is especially true for persons interested in memetics, of which there is precious little original material published at this point.
Bloom is a generalist, which gives him a rather unique take on his work. Bloom likes to say that he spent 20 years looking at everything he could find, and it shows (approximately one third of the hard-backed editions of his books are dedicated to source citations). However, it also means that Bloom often doesn't sound like he's saying anything new. His works link together a huge web of concepts that most of us wouldn't see on our own, to be sure, but those of us who spent some time being academic will almost certainly already understand a good portion of the things he's drawing from.
My love for Bloom is based in his ability to take everything from everywhere and weave it into something intelligent and amazing. Having been an armchair student of memetics since my early teens doesn't hurt either. Global Brain, in particular, with its focus on group intelligence, and our evolutionary need to form communities in order to triumph should appeal to just about any frequent user of Everything2. The first writeup I ever wrote was my writeup on Global Brain.
My love for Bloom is tempered by the interviews I have read that show him to be a little egotistical when it comes to his intelligence. The man can get more than a little manic, and when he does, he forgets his humility.
The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History (1995)
Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From the Big Bang To the 21st Century(2000)
"Beyond the Supercomputer: Social Groups as Self-inventing Machines" (contained the basic notions later presented in Global Brain)(1998)
"Instant Evolution: The Influence of the City on Human Genes, A Speculative Case" (Presented at The Center for Human Evolution, Fifth Workshop, "Cultural Evolution," Seattle, May 11, 2000)(2000)
Richard Brodie, author of Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme.
Erik Davis, author of TechGnosis: Myth, Magic + Mysticism in the Age of Information
Douglas Rushkoff, author of Media Virus!: Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture (The first memetics book I ever read, at the age of 14)