Five books on information technology

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.


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

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!

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

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

How do you not recommend "The Singularity is Near"?

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.

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:

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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