I am posting a series of short “What I learned during my blogging hiatus” pieces that maybe be thought provoking, and an indication of what is on my mind…
#3 : Summer reading will never be the same
Three books that I have been alternating between this summer: The classic (and plodding) Kurzweil’s '”The Singularity is Near”, the intriguing and challenging “The Future Arrived Yesterday” by Michael Malone, and the “Tyranny of Dead Ideas” by Matt Miller, a tome that could be the bible for liberals in Washington.
Singularity…: must reading for the computer cognoscenti. Not something done in one sitting, but a touchstone that can be read in slurps. A book that is not only challenging in thought and word, but probably coming true as we speak.
The Future …: Malone should have stopped at describing his thesis, and saved the implementation for another book. This is groundbreaking in terms of how he captures what is happening in most corporations (and which most are resisting through legacy inertia alone). A must read for technologists AND Human Resource types. But take his attempt at a detail redesign of the modern corporation with a fair amount of skepticism.
Tyranny…: Recommended in a recent talk at our Catalyst conference by The CEO of Citrix (Mark Templeton). I found Mark to be engaging and authentic. His wholehearted endorsement of this book betrays a core that must make his peers at the country club want to revoke his membership (not unlike corporate reaction to FDR in the 30s). This is the definitive guide to the Obama presidency, without political compromises.
The latter book was an experiment for me; I did it on the Kindle reader on the iPhone.
Not only did I find the experience a plus over having a book in my hand, it was easily readable, even better than "paper pages” (shorter snippets that could be consumed at a sitting, and easily retrieved for picking up where I left off or rereading an idea), totally convenient - pocket size and perfect for planes, park benches, home. Since this was on the iPhone, it wasn’t the real Kindle (which I suspect, may provide an even better experience). But it was good enough for me. I may still use the physical book for the occasional fireside read, but I can easily see how most of my future reads will be on the handheld kindle-like device. The only downside (for me) was the eBook pricing. I found the price for eBooks to be outrageous, considering that there is no middle man, no physical distribution (paper, shipping, trucks, stores, inventory). The cost of “Tyranny” rivaled (and often was worse than) the price of the book at the bookstore. I think that will be the leverage – once there is a large base of eBook/kindle readers, competition will see pricing drop to app-store like levels – 99 cents and up. I only hope that day comes sooner rather than later; IMHO that is the only factor preventing an eBook Tsunami.
Kindle/eBooks. The new generation of e-reading has achieved singularity, arrived yesterday, and is killing a dead idea.