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Though I love a networked life, I still like unplugging and having the weight and tangibility of a book in my hand. I have a stack sitting in front of me that I’m planning to take up to the Adirondacks and enjoy over the holidays. It may seem like a bit of a motley crew, but I think they’re all kind of related. Or maybe not. Anyway, here’s what I’m reading, in case you’re interested:

Social Media, Networks, & Society

1. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture by Mark C. Taylor

This book was recommended by Paul B. Hartzog while giving his presentation at the Internet as Playground and Factory conference last month in NYC. He’s the guy behind Panarchy, and pretty much had me at “complex adaptive system,” so I’m gonna give it a shot.

p.s. The digital labor conference was a real eye-opener. Trebor Scholz has written up a summary of the event, along with links to slideshows and videos of the presentations, which can be found here.

2. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations by Clay Shirky

I’ve read a few excerpts from this for class and now I just want to finish it. Shirky, an adjunct professor at NYU, describes it as “a book about what happens when people are given the tools to do things together, without needing traditional organizational structures.”

3. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler

Benkler is a law professor at Yale University, and has made the entire book available for free download here.

4. Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard

This is the book Neo hides his software in in the first Matrix film. It’s about contemporary culture, and the concepts of mass reproduction and materialism. It is not an easy read (for me), but I want to understand the perspectives. There are already augmented reality iPhone apps available, and virtual reality is coming next, so it’s probably important to think about what the implications for our society are when a portion of our lives are spent within manufactured reality.

Futures Thinking & Innovation

5. The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World by Peter Schwartz

Schwartz is a leading futurist and the President of the Global Business Network, a think tank and consulting firm. The book is about developing foresight and a strategic vision within your business.

6. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter Senge

Several people have been recommending this one, about applying systems thinking in order to view businesses as learning organizations. Here’s a short overview of systems thinking and this book (PDF).

7. Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown

This is the new book by Tim Brown, CEO of design & innovation consultancy IDEO. I’m listing this under ‘futures thinking’ because I think there’s going to be a lot of overlap with what Brown calls ‘design thinking’ – strategic approaches to ideation and innovation.


8. Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles by Ray Daniels

Yep, I brew beer. It started with my intention to have “a few tomato plants” last summer. 16 raised beds later, I had to give food away. But, it turns out growing your own food is really satisfying. So then I tried growing mushrooms, and the next logical step was brewing beer. It’s relatively easy, and fun to be able to offer guests a homebrew. The book I started with was The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, and now I’m takin it to the next level.

Self Improvement

9. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer

I read this for the first time last year, but it’s so good I’m going to revisit it. I’ve read a bunch of yogic and spiritual texts, and they’re often really challenging to get through. This book is written so simply, and Singer is able to make analogies to things in everyday life that I could relate to. It was transformative for me in building mindfulness and training my mind to live in the present instead of always focusing my thoughts on past or future.


10. Angel Time: The Songs of the Seraphim by Anne Rice

I tend to enjoy science fiction and fantasy the most when it comes to leisure reading, and have loved Anne Rice ever since I read Interview with the Vampire back in middle school. Her books are very descriptive pieces of historical fiction that I’ve gotten completely immersed in in the past. Her last few books went in a different direction and I wasn’t as into them, so I’m hoping she’s gotten her old groove back. Just in case, I’ve got Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End as a backup.


I also saw this interesting list of book recommendations by futurist Jack Uldrich that I’ll try to make time for in 2010: My 10 Favorite Books (on Unlearning) of 2009

Anyone have other suggestions?