I started this on audio book but after 14 CD's realized we were missing the last 2, so I just finished it with the hard-copy. The writing cracked me u...moreI started this on audio book but after 14 CD's realized we were missing the last 2, so I just finished it with the hard-copy. The writing cracked me up with how graphic the descriptions of the battles and sex scenes were, but overall I really enjoyed this book. It's a very interesting account of the Seige of Malta, of which I knew very little.(less)
A fascanating history of the NY Times. Interesting tidbits were:
- The family was Jewish but so afraid of being dubbed a Jewish paper that they barely...moreA fascanating history of the NY Times. Interesting tidbits were:
- The family was Jewish but so afraid of being dubbed a Jewish paper that they barely covered the holocaust - most stories about the mass graves were buried on page 7 and didn't mention the fact that the victims were mostly Jews. - Adolf Ochs, the first of the family to own the times, bought it completely on borrowed money. He was so in debt it took him 20 years to truly own it. That guy had some large cojones... - The author really played up the stiff competition each generation for publishership. Seems as the the names (ie Arthur Sulzberger) always won..(less)
I really enjoyed this book. The concept of a man who had grown up on Mars and never seen another human until he was in his twenties is such a fun idea...moreI really enjoyed this book. The concept of a man who had grown up on Mars and never seen another human until he was in his twenties is such a fun idea - and a rich canvas. Watching Mike try to grok humans gave a Heinlein great opportunities to point out some of our faults - and our advantages.
I think my favorite part of this book is the word 'grok'. I would bet that there are deep discussions over the true meaning of this word - but I will contend that its closest meaning in English is 'to be enlightened about something'. If you grok God you have reached enlightenment. If you grok music you truly understand in the way that Mozart understood it. If you grok another person you love them. If you grok programming then you truly love and are really good at programming - that, and you're also a probably a pretty big nerd for using a word like 'grok' :) I used it in front of my girlfriend and she still hasn't forgiven me, since I had to explain that it was "a Martian word"!
One thing that I grokked (yes I'm going to keep using it dammit) after finishing this book is that it is kind of a 60's manifesto for free love. I wasn't alive in the 60's, but given everything I know about the 60's from movies, books, etc it seemed that my grokking was right.(less)
Great book. A sci-fi classic. The fact that Gibson wrote this in 1984 is very impressive, as he makes many predictions that seem like they are coming...moreGreat book. A sci-fi classic. The fact that Gibson wrote this in 1984 is very impressive, as he makes many predictions that seem like they are coming true (was that a prediction?).(less)
Very fascinating take on how Leopold was able to obtain a colony many times bigger than Belgium with pure politics, and maintain it with forced slaver...moreVery fascinating take on how Leopold was able to obtain a colony many times bigger than Belgium with pure politics, and maintain it with forced slavery and mercenaries.
There are lots of business lessons to be learned from Leopold:
- Perception is reality. The reality was forced slavery, and unspeakable cruelty by Leopold's agents. But in Europe Leopold told over and over the story that he was a humanitarian, and had the best interests of the Congo people in mind. - You can control reality. Leopold wined and dined, and even bribed anyone with the ability to hurt the perception he spun of the Congo. Harder to do today, but not impossible. For instance a web startup just has to get cozy with Arrington and funding is around the corner. Leopold wasn't a king - he was a master at PR. - History is written by the victors. Most published accounts of the era came from Leopold or his agents. Thus most people had no idea what was happening. I've seen this in current times: an authoritative article by a prominent newspaper that gets things wrong - then for people later researching the subject it becomes a source, and the myth builds. Thats what good PR can do! - Economic incentive without proper checks can result in just about anybody becoming corrupt. Lots of "good" people in the book did unspeakable things to the natives for the sake of meeting their quota of ivory or rubber, or because they were ordered to. Similar stories have been told of American soldiers in Vietnam. In my view this pretty much proves man is neither inherently good or evil, but is entirely motivated by peer pressure and/or money. Joseph Conrad captured this well in Heart of Darkness(less)
Interesting Tidbits - Three forces need to create the long tail: 1. democratize production: give average people the ability to create quality content...moreInteresting Tidbits - Three forces need to create the long tail: 1. democratize production: give average people the ability to create quality content (movies, music, blogs) 2. democratize distribution: technology to aggregate *all* the content in a genre (Amazon, Netflix, iTunes) 3. Connect Supply and Demand: filters to help people find the niche's they are interested in (Google, recommendations, best-seller lists) - One quarter of Amazon's sales come from books outside its top 100,000 titles. Thus having a long tail adds ~33% to your bottom line. - Ranking bestsellers across niche's genre's gives little value. Filters to rank items must be applied within each niche to become relevant. Goodreads could improve here. - As the number of niche's increases, the ability of people to consume more content within the genre increases. This depends on the genre, but it gives me hope that we can increase the number of people who read through Goodreads, by creating better filters to connect readers of various niche's. - each year 200,000 books are published in english, and fewer than 20,000 make it into a bookstore. Only 2% of the books published in 2004 sold more than 5000 copies, and can be considered profitable. - There is another factor that determines why people create content, other than money: reputation. - Ebay has 60 million active users (less)