Prototyping science fiction

“The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented.” –
Dennis Gabor

Tiago Forte wrote a great piece about “What I Learned About the Future by Reading 100 Science Fiction Books“.  The article is one of the more inspirational posts about how to imagine, define and build a future for humanity. So much of what we as designers do is try to imagine a future. The devices, the interactions, the business models, the behaviours and the implications of choices played out on different timescales.

I also read a lot of science fiction (you can see what’s on my Kindle) but I had never thought about it as providing a near or long-term impact on to my speculations on the human condition. Here are a list of books including the Briand David Johnson book identified in the Tiago Forte piece that I need to add to my library and reading queue.

Photo credit: Ron Brinkmann CC-BY-NC-SA-20

Guilt-free Holiday Reading List 2008

On my way to the Velocity Project Exhibition in Waterloo, I stopped at the local Chapters mostly because it’s the only Starbucks I know enroute to the University of Waterloo (turns out there’s one at King & University too). There were a number of business books that caught my attention as possible reads when travelling this holiday season.

Anybody read or planning on reading any of these?

41ldLDf5PZL__SL110_ Ahead Of The Curve – Two Years at Harvard Business School by Philip Delves Broughton
41nirFmqcwL__SL110_ Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
21ACTgOnC L__SL110_ The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means by George Soros
41F9XSr7S9L__SL110_ Remix Making Art And Commerce Thrive In the Hybrid Economy by Lawrence Lessig
51yei KRxEL__SL110_ The Real Price of Everything: Rediscovering the Six Classics of Economics edited by Michael Lewis
41ypZZFfouL__SL110_  Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era by Mary Jo Foley
51PfGj5vTxL__SL110_ Reality Check – The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki
51QTzpyOCkL__SL110_ How To Be A Business Superhero by Sean Wise
41Xq6-RygzL__SL110_ Outliers: The Story of Success  by Malcolm Gladwell
51drpze7irL__SL110_ Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
41XakEaGHOL__SL110_ Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom

Ten New Gurus

The November 24, 2008 issue of Fortune has an article about the Ten New Gurus You Should Know.

  1. BJ Fogg, Founder and Director, Persuasive Technology Lab, Stanford University
  2. Patrick Lencioni, Founder, The Table Group
  3. Rakesh Khurana, Professor, Harvard Business School
  4. Valerie Casey, Leader, Digital Experiences Practice, IDEO
  5. Don Sull, Professor, London Business School
  6. Joel Podolny, Former dean, Yale School of Management/VP, Apple University
  7. Nouriel Roubini, Professor, NYU Stern School of Business
  8. Janine Benyus, Co-founder, Biomimicry Guild and Institute
  9. Dan Ariely, Professor, Duke University
  10. Niko Canner, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Katzenback Partners

Great list of leading thinkers about the changing world of business. They have also written a number of books that are worth spending a couple of flights or evenings reading. These are more inspirational reads than practical hands on advice for entrepreneurs. But they can begin to help entrepreneurs understand the literature that senior executives at companies are reading and how to frame their products and offerings.

Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
Bailouts or Bail-Ins?: Responding to Financial Crises in Emerging Economies

Browsing the bookshelves

Stopped in the bookstore to browse the shelves and see if anything inspired me. I’d already stopped and bought Clay Shirky’s new book, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations and it continues to be the most important book of 2008 IMHO.(If you’re looking for a pleasure read, pick up a copy of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, this book is Orwell’s 1984 for the Digital Generation, I found it worth the sleepless night).

I’m intrigued about the discussion of more in Enough: Breaking Free from the World of More. How people make decisions around needs and desires in North America is interesting. This is the basic studies of economics. For a long time, I had a hard time understanding the connection that Herb Simon made between economics, psychology, computer science and design. But this connection has lead to startups both successful ones and failures, but they have all been around understanding how people make decisions, assign value, and trying to design products and services to enable these decisions. I had a quick read of The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas which did a great job explaining real-world perceptions and misperceptions of the world based on human behaviours.

Toronto is now my home. Having settled in Toronto, I’ve been frustrated by the lack of community. I’m looking forward to reading Small is Possible: Life in the Local Economy, if only to better set a plan for events like DemoCamp and Founders & Funders to better enable our Local Software Economy in Toronto.

Is it me, or does Wired feel relevant again? Wired 16.07 had a couple of articles that were just inspiring to read. The Petabyte Age: Because More Isn’t Just More – More Is Different contains articles about the secondary effects and analysis of data that becomes possible one you embrace big data. Feeding the Masses: Data In, Crop Predictions Out shows the power of GIS and agricultural data developed by Lanworth, it provides the power to enable market predictions. Makes me think I need to find time to read Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers is the New Way to be Smart. Need proof that there’s power in numbers look at the processing by the Idee folks for TinEye or at the relational models of pixels in images for PhotoSynth.


The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas
by Robert Frank

Read more about this book…

Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart
by Ian Ayres

Read more about this book…

Small is Possible: Life in a Local Economy
by Lyle Estill

Read more about this book…

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
by Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright

Read more about this book…

The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Demographic Storm
by Kenneth W. Gronbach

Read more about this book…

Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads
by Joel Best

Read more about this book…

Community: The Structure of Belonging
by Peter Block

Read more about this book…

Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple)
by Jeffrey Kluger

Read more about this book…

Enough: Breaking Free from the World of More
by John Naish

Read more about this book…

The Empire of Mind: Digital Piracy and the Anti-Capitalist Movement (Digital Futures) (Digital Futures)
by Michael Strangelove

Read more about this book…

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
by Clay Shirky

Read more about this book…

Communities Dominate Brands
by Tomi T. Ahonen, Alan Moore

Read more about this book…

Generation Blend: Managing Across the Technology Age Gap (Microsoft Executive Leadership Series)
by R. Salkowitz

Read more about this book…