Thursday, January 03, 2008

Some book recommendations

I have the best of intentions to write detailed book (and other information resource) reviews, but my schedule is also a bit chaotic for the next few weeks, so here are some very brief suggestions from my recent reading:

1: What Are You Optimistic About?: Today's Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting Better: an excellent and very timely collection of Edge.org essays (see this page for more details on the Edge.org "World Question Center"; it's an annual routine, and many -- perhaps all -- of the essays are available on the web site; I still find the paperback book option very useful).  A few of my favorite essays:

Adrian Kreye: We Will Overcome Agnotology (The Cultural Production Of Ignorance)

Gary F. Marcus: Metacognition for Kids

Leon Lederman: The Coming Revolution in Science Education

Daniel Goleman: Transparency is Inevitable 

2: The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google

This is Nicholas Carr's (of "Does IT Matter?" fame and an excellent blog) latest book.  Check his book page for a Q&A, table of contents, etc.  The Big Switch was a very timely and informative reality check for me, in part because I read and greatly enjoyed Randall Stross' The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World last year.

3: Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart

If you liked Freakonomics, you'll probably also enjoy this book by Ian Ayres.  Check the publisher's book page for an excerpt and more details.

4: The Design of Future Things, by Donald A. Norman.

I've been a Don Norman fan for many years, starting with The Psychology of Everyday Things (before it was renamed). This is not his best book, imho, but it's still a useful and timely read. I had the privilege of working with Don Norman on some projects during the early days at Groove Networks, during the late 1990s (when I was a Groove product manager), and always find his insights fascinating.

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