Books for geeks
Career and corporate life
As a software engineer, you recognize at some point that there’s much more to your career than dealing with code. Is it time to become a manager? Tell your boss he’s a jerk? Join that startup? If you’re a geek, this book is an owner’s manual for yourself.
The major issues of software development are human, not technical—and managers ignore them at their peril.
How to make the transition from geek to manager. You’ll learn how to navigate corporate politcs, how to manage conflict, how to manage your boss, how to manage other geeks, and this crazy ritual called meetings.
Business for Dummies, but not for dummies. A high-level overview of they key concepts you’d learn in any MBA program, with a slighly modern twist. Value creation and delivery, sales, marketing, finance, humans, systems… it’s all there. While obviously not a substitute for a two-year MBA program, it’s well worth the read, and you’ll walk away at least conversant in the moving parts of any business.
I know it looks like it belongs in the end case of the airport bookstore’s “important business traveler” section, but judging a book by its cover and all that. The former CEO of Intel walks through how to build and grow teams, with a technlogy industry focus.
How to have conversations you know you should, but don’t want to have. The author calls these “high-stakes situations”. I’d call it “real talk”. It’s a quick read. A big part of it is strategies for separating out emotion but it also offers a framework for actually structuring the converation.
The overwhelming majority of free software projects fail. To help you beat the odds, “Producing Open Source Software” recommends tried and true steps to help free software developers work together toward a common goal. Not just for developers who are considering starting their own free software project, this book will also help those who want to participate in the process at any level.
Open source is being embraced and studied by many of the biggest players in the high-tech industry. The Cathedral & the Bazaar is a must for anyone who cares about the future of the computer industry or the dynamics of the information economy. It has been called the, “great contribution to the success of the open source revolution, to the adoption of Linux-based operating systems, and to the success of open source users and the companies that supply them.”
The history of the hands-on need to take something apart, figure out how it works, share that information, and build something better.
Startups and innovation
Why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation. No matter the industry, a successful company with established products WILL get pushed aside unless managers know how and when to abandon traditional business practices.
The lean startup - Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.
The TL;DR of Product Management. It will walk you through start to finish how to be a sucesful product manager (how to decide which products to create, user resarch, product’s relationship with other parts of the organization, balancing priorities, creating product specs, etc.).s
Rather than trying to get people to buy stuff online, hone in on the user experience; building relationships between people and their brand has huge value, even if those users aren’t spending a dime on their products (yet).
Markets are conversations. The internet has changed the balance of power between brands and consumrse. Today, the best brands are not faceless corporate blobs shouting a coordinated message as loudly as possible, but rather, is made up of the humans behind them, engaging with their customeres in one-to-one, authentic, helpful interactions.
Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus public-health scares circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas–business people, teachers, politicians, journalists, and others– struggle to make their ideas “stick.” What makes ideas viral?
“Today, Web sites and online retailers offer seemingly infinite inventory, and the result is the “shattering of the mainstream into a zillion different cultural shards.” These “countless niches” are market opportunities for those who cast a wide net and de-emphasize the search for blockbusters”
“In this age of an open Internet, it is easy to forget that every American information industry, beginning with the telephone, has eventually been taken captive by some ruthless monopoly or cartel. With all our media now traveling a single network, an unprecedented potential is building for centralized control over what Americans see and hear.”
Collaborators and non-market actors (wikipedia, open source) are king in the approaching “industrial information economy”
Government and organizing
"[An explanation] bureaucratic behavior, beginning with a contrast of similar institutions (armies, prisons, and schools) that have succeeded and failed. He finds that neither the liberal view (more money, new programs) or the conservative ideology (smaller government) provides the single answer. Wilson’s key contribution here is his emphasis on the “bottom” of the bureaucracy–those who do the work. Policy, he says, is developed by those with no understanding of its implementation"
Organizations consist of tribes - self-organizing groups of 20-150 - that have have the greatest influence in determining how much and what quality work gets done. The book looks at research from a 10-year study of more than 24,000 people in two dozen organizations and outlines five stages of tribal development: Life sucks, My life sucks, I’m great and you’re not, We’re great, and Life is great.
The wildfire-like spread of new forms of social interaction enabled by technology is changing the way humans form groups and exist within them, with profound long-term economic and social effects-for good.
Artists create art, musicians create music, lawyers create legal documents. Lawyers should care not just about the content of their output, but also the form and function it emobodies. This how-to book explains why typgography matters, and how to create proffessional legal type worthy of the words it communicates.
Content platforms and social media networks do not have the power to restrain stalkers, end intimate partner violence, eliminate child abuse, or stop street harassment. But they can cultivate better interactions and better discourse, through thoughtful architecture, active moderation and community management.