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Breaking Smart - Season 1

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Breaking Smart is a series of essays on technology analysis. Season 1, comprising 20 essays totaling approximately 30,000 words, is written by Venkatesh Rao and illustrated by Grace Witherell. This inaugural season is an in-depth exploration of Marc Andreessen’s observation that “software is eating the world.”
ebook, August 2015
Published August 1st 2015 by Self published
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Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I should have loved this, but in fact, found myself regularly shying away from some of the more polemical statements and cringing at the lack of humility. It's entirely possible that Rao is right on all counts, but as a rationalist, the happy-path argument he creates just didn't cut it.

In most ways, I should be a shoe-in for Breaking Smart / Ribbonfarm, and there are definitely pieces of his writing that I found really compelling. But the hubris grated at me and stank of Silicon Vall
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
Read this if you want a longer-than-it-should-be series sponsored by a VC that waxes eloquent on the f u t u r e. Some mildly interesting thoughts, but boring on the whole. Speedran through the last two essays.
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of the most enjoyable and thought-provoking pieces of writing on technology I've ever read. Even with some headscratching claims and biases, this evoked my highlighting and note-taking than any book I've read in a while.
Tyson Titensor
This book (it is structured like a book and I downloaded the Kindle version and read it like a book, but it's technically a collection of blog posts/essays that build on each other) elucidates all the theories I've come to associate with Silicon Valley culture. While I disagree with many of his arguments it's the clearest and most compelling presentation of the "software is eating the world but will lead us all to salvation" philosophy espoused by many technologists.

Very thought provoking and a
Will Simpson
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Venkatesh Rao is an author and consultant. He has previously worked as a researcher at Cornell University and Xerox. Now a deep thinker on the social processes of software development and proliferation.

I found these short dense chapters to be on topics that stretched my cognitive abilities and produces new insights into social life. His main thesis can be summed up in the phrase he uses “software is eating the world”. The book goes on to explain this in detail and give an abundance of examples.
Jax Vullinghs
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: technology
A collection of blog posts from the author of the Ribbon Farm blog that explores the cultural impact of software on society. He praises agile development where teams learn and evolve over time with customer feedback, rather than having strict plans with finite end goals. He also dives into the ideas of James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games (one of my favourite reads of last year) and suggests building software in an exploratory way, with a pluralistic pursuit of infinite potential futures by m ...more
Evan Micheals
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This is about how Information Technology is changing (Revolutionising? Eating?) the world. I found it interesting, and if I understood IT better I would have likely understood the essays better. The concepts were a wee bit beyond me. I understood the premise is that technology is changing our society in ways we do not understand. Rao questions whether understanding them is important. Is a grand narrative useful? He favours freedom, creativity, and open source as a basis for society.

Could Rao be
Anhad Gill
Jun 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I stumbled on the writer's blog and found some of his posts insightful, like this one - the fine art of opportunism. I bought his book which is a collection of essays hoping to find new ideas, mostly around technology. But the book was rather stale for my taste and reads more like a textbook. I couldn't get through it. ...more
Colin P.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Unironically life-changing.
Marcin Czarkowski
Enjoyed every sentence.
Matias Jaramillo
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Making sense

All these essays allowed lots of thoughts and theories that I have had throughout the years to make sense by framing everything under easy to grasp analogies.
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've been working in the software industry for over five years now, and before that I was trained to be a Software Engineer. And I've been using Software and the Internet for quite some time before that. Yet all these years, I never really understood what the Software revolution was and why it's so seminal. The problem possibly being the fact that we are living through some of the most rapidly changing times in human history and are surrounded by the whirlwind that prevents us from finding our b ...more
Murilo Andrade
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: future, tech, read_2016
This is a very interesting book (or series of essays) on the Andreessen's school of thought "Software is eating the world". The author is extremely lucid on his analyses and theories, explaining how we arrived to the current model, and what are its possible implications. This really helped me organize random thoughts about Software revolution in a coherent manner. Highly recommended

Here are some of my takeaways:

"This is perhaps the single most important thing to understand about the revolution t
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Can skip over some issues of privilege and social justice in places which I think is the only real flaw of this series of essays. But putting those gripes aside the worldview articulated here is very persuasive. If you work in technology I would say this is required reading. You might discover some new principles to work, play and live by (or be confirmed in the ones you already do these things by). If this is the California ideology that has become so fashionable to slam, then I'll take it.
Alec Perkey
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great for information workers, this dude is a genius maybe. A successful indie corporate consultant. Learn interesting talking points for the water cooler or business development meetings.
Alex Lyashok
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Best "software eating the world" elaboration you can get. 20 essays from bright mind of V Rao.
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