Five books on information technology

by on July 31, 2010 at 3:11 pm in Books, Web/Tech | Permalink

This interview with me is from the often-interesting FiveBooks web site; I was asked to recommend five books on information technology, other than my own.

Here is part of my take on Hayek's Individualism and Economic Order:

And is it a readable book?

In many ways not, which is why I picked it. I think there is a lot to be said in any area for having at least one book which isn’t very readable. And there Hayek is my pick. But it’s brilliant, it won a Nobel Prize, and it’s one of the most important books of the century. Is it clear and fun? No.

I believe my list selected too many accessible books, as I was tired when I did the interview.  Still, Pessoa, Hesse, and David Weinberger don't make it on to most of the other comparable surveys.

1 anon July 31, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Could you share some recommendations for other not-as-accessible books on the topic?

2 agnostic July 31, 2010 at 4:57 pm

In other areas Tyler tries to signal his sophistication and subtlety of taste, yet on the topic of the internet all we see is credulous, starry-eyed tongue-bathing of the net by fanboys.

For a good overview, theoretical and empirical, of why the internet hasn’t lived up to its hype, see Stan Liebowitz’s Re-Thinking the Network Economy. It was written specifically about the collapse of the dot-com bubble, but the insights generalize to cheerleading and over-selling the internet more broadly. And it’s a hell of a lot more fun of a read!

3 goodhouses July 31, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Sorry, but why is it bad to have selected accessible books? Is non-intelligibility the sign of a good argument or a pretentious writer?

4 Aristid July 31, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Being hard to read is a quality in itself for a book? I say that’s BS.

5 a August 1, 2010 at 5:23 am

How do you not recommend “The Singularity is Near”?

6 Tom Kuplic August 2, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Tyler-
I was pleasantly surprised to see you recommend Fernando Pessoa in this list, especially the Book of Disquietude. His exploration of heteronyms and identity through his writing definitely have a place in the way we write online and manage multiple identities. Great list of reads beyond Pessoa too.

7 Walter Underwood August 2, 2010 at 7:46 pm

I’m sad to see Shirky and Weinberger on your list, since they are such sloppy thinkers. Both of them have criticized library organization while deeply misunderstanding it. See: http://wunderwood.org/most_casual_observer/2007/10/everything_is_miscellaneous_no.html

Instead, choose a couple of these:

Control Through Communication: The Rise of System in American Management, JoAnne Yates

The Social Life of Information, John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid

The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal, M. Mitchell Waldrop

A Theory of Fun for Game Design, Raph Koster

All quite readable, and any one of them is more useful than Weinberger and Shirky combined.

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