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quote George Orwell, "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were
striking thirteen." We just thought you'd like to meet some of our great people
here at TechSoup, through the books we're excited about. I think you'll find
some surprising and wonderful recommendations, many of which decidedly veer
toward the dystopian this
We got the idea
for doing this from Denise McMahan, Founder & Web Publisher at CausePlanet. Because December has been "Read a New Book Month" they invited submissions on their Facebook page to encourage the
people of nonprofitlandia to share book titles with each other.
TechSoup has to share:
William is reading The
Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick. It's an intellectual
journey through the history of communication and information, from the language
of Africa's talking drums all the way up to modern information theory and the
information age with its deluge of news, tweets, images, and blogs.
Tyler is reading Ready
Player One by Ernest Cline. He says, "This book is an amazing escape into
the not too distant future with a serious focus on the 1980s. What could be
better? The story combines a resource depleted Earth surviving by the
international community's use of virtual worlds. It's an adventure of a teenager
thrown, by chance, into a life and death treasure hunt that becomes a real life
and death survival challenge where all the clues have to do with life and pop
culture of the 1980s."
"I'm reading The Circle by Dave Eggers. It's about a
fictional company in a fictional Bay Area town (though it is clearly based on
Google). The story focuses on a bright and eager 20-something-year-old who gets
a job at this highly coveted place to work that offers luxuries such as free
concerts, volleyball courts, and a spa. Though I'm only 80 pages in, the gist
of it is that she discovers the company is up to some nefarious surveillance
activities. A theme so far is the tracking and documentation of EVERYTHING. The
company's biggest product is a log-in service that forces you to use your real
identity – basically killing the privacy of the Internet. So far, so good!"
Steve Blank's Startup Owners Manual, which offers
step-by-step instructions on building successful startups. It's taught at
Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia, and more than 100 other leading universities
worldwide. She also likes Steve Blank's blog. She also
recommends The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and the Lean
Impact for Social Good blog. Finally, she recommends the Business
Model Generation: A
Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alex
Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur.
add that The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is a hugely informative book that isn't just for startup founders -- it provides principles that can and should be used by nonprofits to foster new, innovation-driven, and data-validated solutions for their constituents. The text promotes a broader definition of entrepreneurs that also applies to 'intrapraneurs' within existing organizations and gives specific examples of philanthropy-related programs where the framework could be applied.."
Chrome by Wiliam Gibson. This book contains 10 short stories from the
father of cyberpunk. As usual, Gibson's view of a dystopian future dominated by
megacorporations and rampant with cybercrimes remains terribly, captivatingly,
"I love reading Wired magazine. It's my primary means of
tracking tech trends and finding out about a whole host of science-related
anything that always leaves me marveling at what innovations are happening
around the globe. I also am pretty smitten with their infographics."
"I'm reading How to
Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid. This book taps into both
the dark heart and the irrepressible hope of many of the communities TechSoup
Global serves. It is an inventive novel with a plot wrapped around a love
story, and disguised as a self-help book. I found it one of the most engaging
books I've read in many a year."
likes Jarod Lanier's You Are
not a Gadget: A Manifesto. Jarod Lanier is regarded as the father of
virtual reality technology. In his best selling book he offers a provocative
critique of how digital design is shaping society, for better and for worse.
You Are Not a Gadget discusses the technical and cultural problems that have
unwittingly risen from programming choices - such as the nature of user
identity - that were "locked-in" at the birth of digital media. He imagines what
a future will be for us in light of social networks, cloud-based data storage
systems, and Web 2.0 designs that elevate the wisdom of mobs and computer
algorithms over the intelligence and wisdom of individuals.
just finished Operating
Manual for Spaceship Earth by R. Buckminster Fuller. The book compares the
earth to a spaceship flying through space. The spaceship has a finite amount of
resources and cannot be resupplied. Ross says "quite possibly this book is more
relevant today than when it was released in 1967. Fuller takes us on a journey
of thinking on a grand scale. He calls it General Systems Theory, and I
really appreciate how he zooms out both in space and time to look at the
challenges facing humanity, and what it will take to build a sustainable,
equitable and just society. At his core, Fuller was a humanitarian
technologist. This is one of my favorite quotes from him: "You
never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change
something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
"My nomination is
Cory Doctorow's book, Little
Brother. It's a dystopian vision of the not-too-distant future where the
government monitors all digital communications and your every movement is
tracked. When a terrorist attack on San Francisco leads to radically increased
surveillance (and much, much worse), a group of hackers decides to fight back.
I especially like that the book is available free to all on the author's
website. The San Francisco Public Library also did an amazing One City One Book program
around it, with events ranging from how-to sessions on protecting your privacy
online to encryption
Kevin is reading
the book, Data Science for
Business, What you need to know about data mining and data-analytic thinking.
He says: "I am enjoying this
book because it's not all about data being 'big' and myriad technologies
and algorithms, but rather the problem-solving aspects of data science. The
diagrams are also very helpful and not overly obtuse."
Marnie recommends Change By
Design by Tim Brown, the CEO
of the celebrated innovation and design firm IDEO. This book introduces IDEO's
design thinking method, in which the best designers rely on rigorous
observations of how we use spaces and objects. This is not a book by designers
for designers; this is a blueprint for creative leaders interested in
incorporating creative problem solving via design thinking into all facets of
recommends the free e-book, GreenMemes
Online Organizer's Guide. The guide has over 30 top online organizer
contributors from a spectrum of progressive movement groups including from
350.org, Freedom to Marry, New Organizing Institute, Avaaz, GetEqual,
Greenpeace, Idle No More, Open Media, and many others. The e-book was created with
sponsorship from NetSquared. The whole guide is Creative Commons licensed
so charities are encouraged to use it however you'd like for your nonprofit
recommending Net Smart, How To Thrive
Online by Howard Rheingold because it examines how we've suddenly become
immersed in the technologies of the Net without having critically considered
where we're putting our attention. He describes processes by which we can
become more mindful and intentional with the time we spend in technical
environments." In other words, this books describes how to how to make use of
the increasing array of online tools without getting overloaded.
is one of our serious intellectuals. He is reading Astrotheology
& Shamanism: Christianity's Pagan Roots. A Revolutionary Reinterpretation
of the Evidence by Jan Irvin and Andrew Rutajit. It is an exploration of Judeo-Christian
symbolism and mythology to discover its origins in the traditions of shamanism.
"Right now I am in the middle of reading Iain M.
Banks' Culture Series
which explores a future 'post scarcity' society where its members want for
nothing and are free to explore, create, and help other worlds move forward.
Another interesting aspect of The Culture is that sentient artificial intelligent 'Minds' are
considered equal members of their society. The books are fun, well-written, and
often mind-blowing! This series is a perfect example of what I love about
science fiction: Change one aspect of society and see how that change affects
everything else. I'm reading the e-books on my tablet and phone, which somehow
seems quite appropriate."
George recommends Andrew Keen's Digital
Vertigo: How Today's
Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us. Andrew
Keen is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and writer. His book, Digital Vertigo, maintains
that the social media revolution is the most important and disruptive cultural
transformation since the industrial revolution. It reveals the perils of Web 3.0 and
the corporate strategies designed to decipher and commercialize our most
Bob recommends the WordPress
Visual QuickStart Guide to first time WordPress
users or people new to the idea of using a content management system to drive
their website. WordPress is the most commonly used web platform in the world
that is useable by non-technical people. He's a big fan of the Visual
Quickstart series of technical books for their ease and visual clarity.
Kyle likes Hilary Mantel’s Wolf
Hall. Here’s what he says: “Beneath every history, another history.”
With these words, Hilary Mantel seduces us into this wonderful reimagining of
the rise of Thomas Cromwell in 1520s Britain. Henry VIII has no son to
succeed him, but Pope Clement will not accede to his request to annul his
marriage to Katherine so that he can wed and bed his obsession, Anne
Boleyn. Into the scene steps Thomas Cromwell, a man with high EQ who
knows how to navigate the halls of power, both in the light and behind the
scenes. Mantel’s writing is as crisp and exhilarating as the greatest
works of fiction. And the plot? Well, what could be more enticing
than a true tale of love, devotion, political intrigue, and everything in
between. At 600+ pages, this is not light summer reading. But then
again, it’s not summer! This tome is worth the journey as you will
tear through the pages once pulled into the story and you will, he guarantees,
run out to get the second book in the trilogy, Bring
Up The Bodies, as soon as you’ve finished with this one.”
As you'll see below, Daniel Ben-Horin is one of our more voracious readers. Here is what is on his reading table. "Winter holidays + Unseasonably warm weather = reading fiction in the
yard. Paul Auster's Brooklyn Follies is wonderful,
and Invisible is pretty great. I've also been gorging on the amazing Chinese Nobel Laureate Mo Yan's Big Breasts and Wide Hips and LIfe and Death Are Wearing Me Out. I still haven't gotten to his best known novel, Red Sorghum. I
recently detoured into (Dr.) Josh Bazell and his Carl Hiassen-ish Wild Thing, which
is a gonzo thriller that is enjoyable in its own right, and especially
so for the 27 pages of 'sources' he includes at the end to bolster his
many and varied claims and opinion on global warming, the Mideast and
pretty much everything else.
I am also spending time in the former Soviet
Union, via Frances Spufford's Red Plenty and Andrey Kurkov's The
Milkman In The Night. My jury is still out on both but they are each
certainly interesting and I'll keep going a while on them and see if
the reading magic clicks in or not. I am, by the way, a huge fan of
Kurkov, a Ukrainian whose plots combine elements of magical realism,
post-Soviet cynicism, compelling stories, humor and relateable people.
Dark stuff but engrossing.
A final note on Russian literature. I love the thrillers of Boris Akunin. They are set in
Romanoff era Russia but are clearly commentaries on modern Russia and
Akunin has emerged as a leader of the anti-Putin struggles."
What about me? I'll be in 16th century
Spain with Ildefonso Falcone's The
Hand of Fatima.
Do you have any reading suggestions for nonprofit techies? Please log in to comment on this blog post.
Images: TechSoup Global