1 Feb 2008
I just returned from an extraordinarily engaging concert hosted by Waterloo’s Numus, which featured New York-based and Austrian born Dorit Chrysler, who is one of the preeminent performance artists on the Theremin. She delivered on her promise to feature the broadest possible range from classical, avant garde, pop, jazz and even the “scary” music we often associate with this early electronic instrument. And, given the delicate body motions, almost like dance with fingering, the Theremin is indeed a very demonstrative instrument, at least in the right hands.Preceding her concert, the stage was set with the showing of the 1995 film “Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey” which was an amazing background in itself. I’ve seen the instrument played at a distance before, but since it was created in 1919, it can be considered the pioneer of modern electronic music to which we all should pay homage. If you’ve never heard Dorit or even the Theremin, check it out!
1 Oct 2007
Computer power and human reason by Joseph Weizenbaum Published by W. H. FreemanWorldCat • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder This was a seminal work in exploring themes of computing, artificial intelligence and the limits of technology by Joseph Weizenbaum, MIT professor and social thinker. He considered that computers will always lack human emotions and compassion, and that this would define the limits of how far technology should be allowed to progress. Joseph died in March 2008, having returned to his native Berlin, Germany. Having the most presentable car back in 1978, I was the natural choice to drive him from Toronto airport to a lecture at the University of Waterloo Computer Science Club. I recall with fondness an engaging conversation with Joseph, who was a brilliant, yet very approachable, person. I would also point people to an excellent documentary film on his life: Weizenbaum. Rebel at Work.
9 May 2007
Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston Published by ApressWorldCat • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder The power of this book comes from the breadth of founders (more than 30) interviewed by Jessica Livingston whose startup success ranges from hardware, software and the web with examples from the 1980′s right up to this decade. Although, by celebrating primarily technical founders, it perhaps downplays some of the financial aspects of business growth, it is a powerful read. And, to be honest, the role of the technology based founder, which is the backbone of the Silicon Valley model needs to be better understood and celebrated. Most of the founders are forthright, with just a few exceptions, about the U turns and even failures that led to their ultimate success. All in all, a must read for any budding startup entrepreneurs.
8 May 2007
Infotopia by Cass R. Sunstein Published by Oxford University PressWorldCat • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder Cass Sunstein is an incredibly original and clear thinker on the whole topic of human organization. At the cutting edge of how new digital technologies are allowing us to harness the “wisdom of the many”, this book is a must read to provide a 21st century take on human organization. It provides examples of the power of the group, but also ways in which group organization can go wrong. Managers of all business, technology-driven or otherwise, would do well to read this book. Thanks to Alec Saunders for recommending this book.
7 Apr 2007
Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams Published by PortfolioWorldCat • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder Don Tapscott presents another well thought out and lucid work on the digital revolution. This time, he focuses on how these digital technologies are fundamentally changing, and perhaps creating, new economic realities. It was published around the same time as the Web 2.0 techniques of user generated content, Wikis, open source, blogging, etc. were moving into a more mainstream position and starting to impact the business world. This book has a more technological focus than other books in this space, so I recommend reading alongside, say Friedman’s The World is Flat.
6 Mar 2007
The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman Published by Thorndike PressWorldCat • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder Thomas Friedman provides an excellent pairing to Wikinomics in describing the inevitability and intertwining of globalization with the digital revolution. An extremely insightful book that is very well written, the only failing is that Friedman can’t seem to see the fundamental disconnect between continued “American exceptionalism” in a globalized world. Thanks to Ginny Dybenko for turning me onto this book.
12 Feb 2007
The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder Published by Back Bay BooksWorldCat • Read Online • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder Way back in 1981, I identified strongly with Tracy Kidder’s description of the intensity of non-stop, passionate, 24×7 product development. The hacker culture, harnessed to corporate product development, predates the many Silicon Valley stories of Netscape or today’s Google. Having gone through a “burn out” process in developing Coherent, this book gave me great perspective that has stuck with me to this day.
4 Jan 2007
Co-Leaders by David A. Heenan & Warren Bennis Published by John Wiley & SonsWorldCat • LibraryThing • Google Books • BookFinder Over the years, I’ve learned that leadership and building great companies is all about the team, rather than a single rock star individual CEO. I met Warren Bennis in the late 1990′s at the CIO conference and this book really helped to shape my thinking, including my post in the Entrepreneurial Toolkit series The Power of Two (or Three).. Although focused more on larger traditional companies, it contains lots of great case studies of how great leadership is defined by great teamwork.