Note to self: read through this book again. It is packed with quite a lot of good information, examples, and ideas. Truly a book for people with an ecNote to self: read through this book again. It is packed with quite a lot of good information, examples, and ideas. Truly a book for people with an economist mind. If you enjoy Freakonomics, consider reading this as a deeper dive into the math and the thinking behind the insights....more
This review starts with a confession: I listened to this on audiobook instead of reading it. I didn't enjoy the readers very much - especially the firThis review starts with a confession: I listened to this on audiobook instead of reading it. I didn't enjoy the readers very much - especially the first one. There was a snooty accent to most of the characters. I tried to push past the reader and really just pay attention to the story. Even ignoring that, I did not find this book enjoyable.
In the story, there are several analogues to people in real life. There's a Malala Yousafzai character, a Neil Degrasse Tyson character, an Elon Musk character, and a few others. Now, in many books, you'll find characters that have their twin in real life and that's not all bad. Sometimes the characters in the book are a parody of their associated fleshy counterpart. Sometimes the book says something important about the role that person plays in our world. In this book, Stephenson seems to use real people because he couldn't be bothered to come up with characters using his own imagination. I became more and more annoyed with this as the book went on.
Within the first line of the story, the moon explodes and will soon make the earth uninhabitable for thousands of years. One would think that this would be more than enough of an inspiration for the main characters to contend with. Not being satisfied with that, Stephenson makes several characters foul-spirited and selfish. They really come off as evil. It really felt artificial and unnecessary.
As far as the technology that is used, it seems like this book is caught between being somewhat believable and utterly impossible. The International Space Station is used extensively with a few upgrades that seem entirely plausible. But, just for fun, major plot points spin around robots and genetic engineering that fall squarely in the category of impossible with today's technology. And then there's an inordinate amount of time spent on the physics of a length of chain in space. Yes, Stephenson, you found some obscure math thing. You used it once - that was more than enough and we didn't need to hear about it every five seconds throughout the rest of the book.
It has been said that this is a very developed universe and that Stephenson spent time thinking about all the backgrounds and motivations of each character. If that's true, it certainly seems like he then decided to empty that entire dustbin full of background and pointless exposition into the pages of this bloated work. At least a third of this book could have been left on the chopping block with no loss to the story. Maybe some people like the extra background spelled out in painstaking detail. I would like to have moved on to a different book....more
The catchline that has been iterated by a few people goes something like this: "Remember that part of the movie Apollo 13 where they had a box of sparThe catchline that has been iterated by a few people goes something like this: "Remember that part of the movie Apollo 13 where they had a box of spare parts and they had to figure out how to fix a critical piece of hardware just using those? This is a book that is just about that." And it's wonderful.
This book tells the story of an array of problems that must be solved both by our lost astronaut and all the best and brightest of earth. The characters are diverse and interesting - I found them all compelling and relatable. There were lots of people just trying to do a good job and defy the odds to bring a lost astronaut home safe. It's smart, it's funny; pretty much flawless from start to finish.
Confession: I listened to the audio book on this one. The audio book is terrific. It's possibly worth listening to the audio book even if you've already read the text version....more
I should caveat this review by saying that I am a software tester and developer. This book appears to be designed specifically for product managers. II should caveat this review by saying that I am a software tester and developer. This book appears to be designed specifically for product managers. I'm normally all for crossing barriers between domains. However, I don't feel like this was a good guide for those trying to get a peek into the world of a project manager. The book gets awfully specific about certain techniques that product managers might use to create empathy with the users, but there just aren't enough examples to see how those techniques are really applicable or useful. I think I would have prefered either a more shallow look at the techniques that gives me a better idea of the benefits of the techniques or a deeper dive into each of the techniques that would allow me to comfortably exercise it on my own and see the benefit. As it is, I don't know why I would spend my time doing any of the things in this book nor do I have any reason to convince my team or my clients to spend time trying any of these activities.
Books on usability and user empathy are typically well designed themselves. Sadly, I think this book broke the trend for me. The writing style is a bit manic, changing tones between technical to conversational and back in the course of a few paragraphs. It seems like it was trying to be both a textbook and friendly introduction but didn't do either very well. Each chapter ends with an interview. Frankly, I didn't get the point of them. I carefully read the first couple interviews, but gave up and skimmed the rest of them. They just seem to be name drops of people that worked on important projects. I didn't see the connection between each interview and the content of the chapter or the book for that matter.
It's unfortunate that the negative aspects of this book stuck with me the hardest. This book does make me wish I understood the role of product manager better. I might start looking into books on the construction of wireframes and hero flows now that this book has got me interested. But, when I find a book on creating a stellar hero flow, I'll probably recommend reading that book and skipping this one....more
The title of this book would have you believe that it is for people writing software - the typical kind of person that has to wonder what their user iThe title of this book would have you believe that it is for people writing software - the typical kind of person that has to wonder what their user is thinking and how to make the user behave the way they want. I think this book goes beyond that. This book is for anyone who has a message that they want to get across. If you are a teacher designing a lesson plan, if you are a speaker designing a presentation, or if you are trying to learn a skill yourself: this book is worth your time. The concepts are so simple yet so thoughtful, most anyone could learn what Sierra is teaching you and spend the rest of their life trying to master putting it into practice.
I find it so refreshing that books on usability are typically very usable. This book is no exception. The principals of this book are used throughout the book itself to great effect. It makes you want to finish the book and excited to use what you learned....more
This is a book not just for designers, but for consumers also. It will take all of us working together to get humanity to a future where features areThis is a book not just for designers, but for consumers also. It will take all of us working together to get humanity to a future where features are not king and where joy of using is the goal. Because of what is in this book, I paid extra for a digital kitchen timer that rotates to set the time instead of having up and down buttons. It's a simple thing, but it makes me smile every time I cook. Isn't that the mark of a good book? Something that evokes a change, improving your life? Guess you could say this was almost a religious experience....more