The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
Fast-paced sci-fi thriller based upon two ideas: self-paced learning via an AI-enabled laptop and nation-state intentional communities.
Back in 3rd grade, we had a set of learning objectives to master before the year was out. Given the choice of doing math or going outside for recess in the snowy-heavy Vermont winter, Hunter (my pine-cone-igniting and Mr. Roboto-listening best friend) and I would happily stay inside and work through the problem sets. We completed the year's work and handed it in to Mrs. Butler, who then promptly freaked and complained that she was going to have to make up whole new problem sets for us. And then she banished us unto the Siberian Death Camp for the rest of recess (no, I'm not bitter ;).
Ever since I saw my niece using her LeapFrog leap-pad (picking it up and playing through some levels, putting it down, and then 20 minutes later picking it back up again), I've harbored great hopes for computer-aided self-paced learning. It's one of those technologies that can't arrive fast enough.
In sharp contrast, intentional communities have been here for years (hippie communes, crazies with Koolaid, etc.). As they keep dying, it doesn't seem easy to foster and maintain a community, much less roll out a functioning culture, but it happens in this book. Something to aim for?