Books I’d Like to Read

More for your reading and collection development pleasure.

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu (ISBN-13: 978-0307269935)

As Wu’s sweeping history shows, each of the new media of the twentieth century–radio, telephone, television, and film–was born free and open. Each invited unrestricted use and enterprising experiment until some would-be mogul battled his way to total domination. Here are stories of an uncommon will to power, the power over information: Adolph Zukor, who took a technology once used as commonly as YouTube is today and made it the exclusive prerogative of a kingdom called Hollywood . . . NBC’s founder, David Sarnoff, who, to save his broadcast empire from disruptive visionaries, bullied one inventor (of electronic television) into alcoholic despair and another (this one of FM radio, and his boyhood friend) into suicide . . . And foremost, Theodore Vail, founder of the Bell System, the greatest information empire of all time, and a capitalist whose faith in Soviet-style central planning set the course of every information industry thereafter.

Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk by Massimo Pigliucci (ISBN-13: 978-0226667867)

Why do people believe bunk? And what causes them to embrace such pseudoscientific beliefs and practices? Noted skeptic Massimo Pigliucci sets out to separate the fact from the fantasy in this entertaining exploration of the nature of science, the borderlands of fringe science, and–borrowing a famous phrase from philosopher Jeremy Bentham–the nonsense on stilts. Presenting case studies on a number of controversial topics, Pigliucci cuts through the ambiguity surrounding science to look more closely at how science is conducted, how it is disseminated, how it is interpreted, and what it means to our society. The result is in many ways a “taxonomy of bunk” that explores the intersection of science and culture at large.

The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation by Jono Bacon (ISBN-13: 978-0596156718)

Online communities offer a wide range of opportunities today, whether you’re supporting a cause, marketing a product or service, or developing open source software. The Art of Community will help you develop the broad range of talents you need to recruit members to your community, motivate and manage them, and help them become active participants.

Author Jono Bacon offers a collection of experiences and observations from his decade-long involvement in building and managing communities, including his current position as manager for Ubuntu, arguably the largest community in open source software. You’ll discover how a vibrant community can provide you with a reliable support network, a valuable source of new ideas, and a powerful marketing force.

Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business by Amber Mac (ISBN-13: 978-1591843283)

When it comes to social media-whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or the latest video blog-the tools evolve quickly, the rules change rapidly, and the technology feels more and more complex. But making social media work for your company doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In this compact yet thorough guide, Mac shows you how to effectively harness the online world to grow your business.

The secret: think of your audience as your friends and then treat them that way. The Power Friending approach is all about developing real relationships based on mutual respect and support. While you may never meet some of your online friends face-to-face, they still expect you to follow the established norms of friendship: be authentic, reach out, listen. And don’t lie to your friends. These same rules apply when building a strong brand online.

Internet Architecture and Innovation by Barbara van Schewick (ISBN-13: 978-0262013970)

Van Schewick describes the design principles on which the Internet’s original architecture was based–modularity, layering, and the end-to-end arguments–and shows how they shaped the original architecture. She analyzes in detail how the original architecture affected innovation–in particular, the development of new applications–and how changing the architecture would affect this kind of innovation.

Van Schewick concludes that the original architecture of the Internet fostered application innovation. Current changes that deviate from the Internet’s original design principles reduce the amount and quality of application innovation, limit users’ ability to use the Internet as they see fit, and threaten the Internet’s ability to realize its economic, social, cultural, and political potential. If left to themselves, network providers will continue to change the internal structure of the Internet in ways that are good for them but not necessarily for the rest of us. Government intervention may be needed to save the social benefits associated with the Internet’s original design principles.

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell (ISBN-13: 978-0307378705)

Extra Lives is an impassioned defense of this assailed and misunderstood art form. Bissell argues that we are in a golden age of gaming–but he also believes games could be even better. He offers a fascinating and often hilarious critique of the ways video games dazzle and, just as often, frustrate. Along the way, we get firsthand portraits of some of the best minds (Jonathan Blow, Clint Hocking, Cliff Bleszinski, Peter Molyneux) at work in video game design today, as well as a shattering and deeply moving final chapter that describes, in searing detail, Bissell’s descent into the world of Grand Theft Auto IV, a game whose themes mirror his own increasingly self-destructive compulsions.

Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Extra Lives is like no other book on the subject ever published. Whether you love video games, loathe video games, or are merely curious about why they are becoming the dominant popular art form of our time, Extra Lives is required reading.

Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership by Lewis Hyde (ISBN-13: 978-0374223137)

Common as Air offers a stirring defense of our cultural commons, that vast store of art and ideas we have inherited from the past that continues to enrich our present. Suspicious of the current idea that all creative work is “intellectual property,” Lewis Hyde turns to America’s founding fathers–men like John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson–in search of other ways to value the fruits of human wit and imagination. What he discovers is a rich tradition in which knowledge was assumed to be a commonwealth, not a private preserve.

The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse by Jennifer Ouellette (ISBN-13: 978-0143117377)

Jennifer Ouellette never took math in college, mostly because she-like most people-assumed that she wouldn’t need it in real life. But then the English-major-turned-award-winning-science-writer had a change of heart and decided to revisit the equations and formulas that had haunted her for years. The Calculus Diaries is the fun and fascinating account of her year spent confronting her math phobia head on. With wit and verve, Ouellette shows how she learned to apply calculus to everything from gas mileage to dieting, from the rides at Disneyland to shooting craps in Vegas-proving that even the mathematically challenged can learn the fundamentals of the universal language.

The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control by Ted Striphas (ISBN-13: 978-0231148146)

Ted Striphas argues that, although the production and propagation of books have undoubtedly entered a new phase, printed works are still very much a part of our everyday lives. With examples from trade journals, news media, films, advertisements, and a host of other commercial and scholarly materials, Striphas tells a story of modern publishing that proves, even in a rapidly digitizing world, books are anything but dead.

From the rise of retail superstores to Oprah’s phenomenal reach, Striphas tracks the methods through which the book industry has adapted (or has failed to adapt) to rapid changes in twentieth-century print culture. Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Amazon.com have established new routes of traffic in and around books, and pop sensations like Harry Potter and the Oprah Book Club have inspired the kind of brand loyalty that could only make advertisers swoon. At the same time, advances in digital technology have presented the book industry with extraordinary threats and unique opportunities.

Striphas’s provocative analysis offers a counternarrative to those who either triumphantly declare the end of printed books or deeply mourn their passing. With wit and brilliant insight, he isolates the invisible processes through which books have come to mediate our social interactions and influence our habits of consumption, integrating themselves into our routines and intellects like never before.

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson (ISBN-13: 978-1594487712)

With Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson pairs the insight of his bestselling Everything Bad Is Good for You and the dazzling erudition of The Ghost Map and The Invention of Air to address an urgent and universal question: What sparks the flash of brilliance? How does groundbreaking innovation happen? Answering in his infectious, culturally omnivorous style, using his fluency in fields from neurobiology to popular culture, Johnson provides the complete, exciting, and encouraging story of how we generate the ideas that push our careers, our lives, our society, and our culture forward.

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly (ISBN-13: 978-0670022151)

This provocative book introduces a brand-new view of technology. It suggests that technology as a whole is not a jumble of wires and metal but a living, evolving organism that has its own unconscious needs and tendencies. Kevin Kelly looks out through the eyes of this global technological system to discover “what it wants.” He uses vivid examples from the past to trace technology’s long course and then follows a dozen trajectories of technology into the near future to project where technology is headed. This new theory of technology offers three practical lessons: By listening to what technology wants we can better prepare ourselves and our children for the inevitable technologies to come. By adopting the principles of pro-action and engagement, we can steer technologies into their best roles. And by aligning ourselves with the long-term imperatives of this near-living system, we can capture its full gifts. Written in intelligent and accessible language, this is a fascinating, innovative, and optimistic look at how humanity and technology join to produce increasing opportunities in the world and how technology can give our lives greater meaning.

Virtual Words: Language on the Edge of Science and Technology by Jonathon Keats (ISBN-13: 978-0195398540)

In Virtual Words: Language on the Edge of Science and Technology, Jonathon Keats, author of Wired Magazine’s monthly Jargon Watch column, investigates the interplay between words and ideas in our fast-paced tech-driven use-it-or-lose-it society. In 28 illuminating short essays, Keats examines how such words get coined, what relationship they have to their subject matter, and why some, like blog, succeed while others, like flog, fail. Divided into broad categories–such as commentary, promotion, and slang, in addition to scientific and technological neologisms–chapters each consider one exemplary word, its definition, origin, context, and significance. Examples range from microbiome (the collective genome of all microbes hosted by the human body) and unparticle (a form of matter lacking definite mass) to gene foundry (a laboratory where artificial life forms are assembled) and singularity (a hypothetical future moment when technology transforms the whole universe into a sentient supercomputer). Together these words provide not only a survey of technological invention and its consequences, but also a fascinating glimpse of novel language as it comes into being.

What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption by Rachel Botsman amd Roo Rogers (ISBN-13: 978-0061963544)

The book addresses three growing models of Collaborative Consumption: Product Service Systems, Communal Economies, and Redistribution Markets. The first, Product Service Systems, reflects the increasing number of people from all different backgrounds and across ages who are buying into the idea of using the service of the product-what it does for them-without owning it. Examples include Zipcar and Ziploc, and these companies are disrupting traditional industries based on models of individual ownership. Second, in what the authors define as Communal Economies, there is a growing realization that as individual consumers, we have relatively little in the way of bargaining power with corporations. A crowd of consumers, however, introduces a different, empowering dynamic. Online networks are bringing people together again and making them more willing to leverage the proverbial power of numbers. Examples of this second category include Etsy, an online market for handcrafts, or the social lending marketplace Zopa. The third model is Redistribution Markets, exemplified by worldwide networks such as Freecycle and Ebay as well as emerging forms of modern day bartering and “swap trading” such as Zwaggle, Swaptree, and Zunafish. Social networks facilitate consumer-to-consumer marketplaces that redistribute goods from where they are not needed to somewhere or someone where they are. This business model encourages reusing/reselling of old items rather them throwing them out, thereby reducing the waste and carbon emissions that go along with new production.

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