Publishing in 1985, Cult Objects looks at how Western Culture (primarily British)imbues certain objects with special status that is used to reflect si...morePublishing in 1985, Cult Objects looks at how Western Culture (primarily British)imbues certain objects with special status that is used to reflect similar attributes in its owner. The book also looks at those objects that are able to push the relationship to a point where the object become a cultural icon and earns cult status among its adherents. The book is dated (mention of Izod polo shirts and yuppie ephemera and a loving tribute to the original mini and bug before the new models). Worthwhile for anyone interested in 80s culture or an understanding of signifiers in British fashion. (less)
Every rags-to-riches success story has a a secret: it takes a village to raise a prodigy. The success of individuals is a mix of work ethic, luck, fle...moreEvery rags-to-riches success story has a a secret: it takes a village to raise a prodigy. The success of individuals is a mix of work ethic, luck, flexibility and cultural background. Malcolm Gladwell proves this again and again throughout his latest work, Outliers.
If you've read his previous books or his articles for the New Yorker etc. you know what to expect from this book. It's pretty much the same formula as the previous books: interesting scientific "fact" followed by a surprising reveal on a different idea behind the "fact" (in this case the book is about how genius= success), followed by a examples that illuminate different aspects to build the argument. It can be a compelling read.
I found the book a breezy read. No detailed look into the history of IQ tests or question of their validity (Steven Jay Gould has some worthwhile reading on that), instead the book feels like a series of related magazine articles compiled into a book about genius and success. There were neat ideas throughout the book but there was never too much depth to those ideas. This isn't a problem for the book, in fact this is reason people read Gladwell, he has the ability to simplify these complex sociological studies into a few pages. While this makes the material accessible, it also leaves out a lot of the complexities and arguments that have been developed in the past few decades on race, class gender and IQ. No mention of Steven Jay Gould, no mention of the Bell Curve fiasco, no mention of a lot of the research on the problems with IQ tests and the ideas of race that were explored throughout the 1990s. It was an entertaining read but not one that will provide ideas that will stick with me beyond a few days.(less)
In Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky looks at how the traditional costs associated with organizations have virtually disappeared with the advent of so...moreIn Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky looks at how the traditional costs associated with organizations have virtually disappeared with the advent of social media in the past five years. Shirky looks at how technological advances have changed the threshold for large scale interaction. The book is filled with stories from the web that illustrate how e-mail, Twitter, listservs and websites has allowed people to enact real change throughout the world. From a group that hounds a teenager to give back a lost sidekick to the use of Twitter by Egyptian bloggers to warn of government interventions, the book's examples keep the book moving between the science behind networks.
For those who have read Howard Rheingold, Duncan Watts and Albert-Laszlo Barabasi (okay, and maybe even Malcolm Gladwell) there's nothing ground-breaking in the book. It's just another book on social networks. There was some great potential in this book as it offers a look at the economics of networks, but instead of getting to the meat of the economy of networks the book try to take a more pop-sensible approach and breaks up concepts with several stories which I found simplified and distracting. I think those who will benefit most from the book are those who want more than the New Yorker take on social media, but haven't delved into the literature. (less)
The internet can be a scary place and this books helps readers to understand how scary it can be and what you can do to protect yourself. The book cov...moreThe internet can be a scary place and this books helps readers to understand how scary it can be and what you can do to protect yourself. The book covers the basics of how the internet and search engines can leave you vulnerable. While the book seems to focus on the dangers of relying too heavily on Google, there are plenty of other horrors in the book. If anything Google almost seems to come out ahead of other companies who end up having giant data dumps.
The basic premise of the book is that we trade in some privacy for convenience online. The more Google et al. know about us the more they can cater to our desires. So if you want relevant search results you may need to let these faceless companies know your habits, likes and dislikes.
I didn't find too much shocking about this book, it pretty much confirmed other articles I've read about how companies on the internet track you. The book is written for people who may not be familiar with security protocols but does get in to some pretty standard IT stuff. I'm not sure who the audience would be for this book it's too technical for the average reader who might actually be concerned and yet not practical enough for the security specialist who needs to draft policy or plug security leaks. It was interesting to read about the different sites and programs that have been developed to try and answer the problems inherent in Google and the internet.(less)
For anyone interested in learning more about the issues surrounding the Public Domain in the U.S. this guide offers a thorough and easy-to-follow guid...moreFor anyone interested in learning more about the issues surrounding the Public Domain in the U.S. this guide offers a thorough and easy-to-follow guide to the twists and turns of the copyright law in America. The author is balanced in his handling of the different aspects, but you do sense he falls to the the left. I think the best part of the book is that Fishman explains the law as it exists and then identifies problems and gray areas that could mean trouble. It's good to see a guide to copyright and Public Domain that doesn't just state the law but warns how others have interpreted this law. He also covers trademark and patent law as they might conflict with copyright. Worth reading for a lay audience who are not entrenched in copyright law.(less)
I'm not sure I understand probability any better but the book did a good job giving a brief overview of how statistics and probability work in order t...moreI'm not sure I understand probability any better but the book did a good job giving a brief overview of how statistics and probability work in order to give the reader an entry into the world of randomness and how it affects our world. Worthwhile read for anyone who like the Malcolm Gladwell titles or pop science books.(less)
The 15 essays in the book offer the reader a varied view of how the world of books is changing thanks to digital technology. The book examines changes...moreThe 15 essays in the book offer the reader a varied view of how the world of books is changing thanks to digital technology. The book examines changes in library science, book publishing, and book consumption. The reader gets a distinct feeling while reading the essays of the ground shifting under their feet and I think that's the purpose of these essays. The essays are a mixed bag, but the two essays on book consumption in Europe are a rare treat in subject matter usually focused on the US or UK markets. This is ideal for those subscribers of Publishing Research Quarterly, in other words, for serious book geeks only. (less)
This serves as the smart companion to Venkatesh's other work, Gang Leader for a Day. Not to say the other book wasn't smart, but it was more dedicate...moreThis serves as the smart companion to Venkatesh's other work, Gang Leader for a Day. Not to say the other book wasn't smart, but it was more dedicated to character studies and had a little more action. This book gives you more depth to the economic and social background to the parts of Chicago in Gang Leader. Many of the same character types show up in both works. This one goes deeper into the reasons behind community interactions and examines the research about poor inner city communities. Each chapter focuses on the different actors in the underground economy: women who provide additional means through their homes, entrepreneurs on the street, hustlers who provide support to local businesses, preachers who serve as mediators, and the gangs who influence the entire community. (less)
In this series of essays, James Conaway travels across America to look at parks, islands and ranches that reflect another way of life. Every location...moreIn this series of essays, James Conaway travels across America to look at parks, islands and ranches that reflect another way of life. Every location in this book is threatened with extinction because of the modern way Americans live. The book is filled with a search for buffalo, black bears, moose, and eagles. The book is about conservation and just how confusing conservation became under the Bush administration. In one chapter Conaway looks at Nantucket and how it has changed from a depressed town during the mid-20th century to the getaway of the rich and famous. The essays examines the history of preservation that has ruled the island since the 1970s and how homeowners have been circumventing the rules to create million dollar getaways.
The collection as a whole is loosely connected around the theme. The collection is somewhat uneven, but worthwhile for those interested in maintaining spots that define the land that we imagine when we think "America."(less)
A very interesting topic: the way corporations and the US government use non-military means to destroy other governments. I had problems with the writ...moreA very interesting topic: the way corporations and the US government use non-military means to destroy other governments. I had problems with the writing. I didn't find Perkins sympathetic and found everything he said a little bit suspect. I'm not sure I could believe his pangs of guilt or his great luck with his energy company. There was also too much of a "connect-the-dots" feeling to his work in the last half of the 20th century and the events leading up to September 11th. Everything seemed a bit too convenient. (less)
This slim book re-imagines literary exploration by borrowing formats from other disciplines. Moretti looks at novels through the lenses of geography,...moreThis slim book re-imagines literary exploration by borrowing formats from other disciplines. Moretti looks at novels through the lenses of geography, biology and the social sciences. The idea is intriguing and has a lot of promise. Imaging looking at an Austen novel by mapping out the town or relationships on some type of map. Imagine analyzing a novel by charting the number of times a particular action or device is used. The book starts the discussion on how to use evaluation studies from the social sciences on literature. It also takes the evolutionary tree based on Darwin's work and applies it to schools of literature and writers. Some of the theories may seem a little forced, but the ideas behind the concept might give literature the push it needs.(less)
I realize I waited too long to read this because it didn't seem as different as I thought. I think I'm too familiar with the book that were influenced...moreI realize I waited too long to read this because it didn't seem as different as I thought. I think I'm too familiar with the book that were influenced by the book. It felt very dated. I couldn't help but compare it to V for Vendetta which I think held up better over time.(less)