Books in April

I’m almost done with two more but for the moment, four read in April.

The Search, John Battelle. A nicely researched history of Google and the search market in general. More “meat” than most pop science book and some interesting outlooks on what’s coming. My one somewhat major gripe about the book is that even when covering “perfect search”, a world where everything would be indexed and searchable—not only on but also offline—he remains a ra ra fan of Google. He barely addresses worries of privacy infringement and paints a rosy picture of a searchable future. There are a lot of risks with that outcome and there’s not enough unbiased analysis of them here. Still, recommended if you care about the state and future of the internet.

Overclocked, Cory Doctorow. Another excellent collection of short stories, I know some of my readers aren’t fans of Doctorow in his advocacy and blogging roles but really, you have to give his fiction a try. Some quotes from the cover:

Cory Doctorow straps on his miner’s helmet and takes you deep into the caverns and underground rivers of pop culture, here filtered through SF-colored glasses.—Neil Gaiman

He sparkles! He fizzes! He does backflips and breaks the furniture! Science Fiction needs Cory Doctorow.—Bruce Sterling

Cory Doctorow is just far enough ahead of the game to give you the authentic chill of the future… Funny as hell and sharp as steel.—Warren Ellis

Small Giants, Bo Burlingham. The subtitle says it all, “Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big”. Covers quite a spectrum of companies in varying fields and where “small” goes from 2 to 1900 people. A lot of inspiring stories, tips, lessons and recommendations. A fun read that makes you believe it can actually (gasp) be fun to build and run a company. I actually sent this to old clients of mine who just spent a year on a hiring binge.

Company, Max Barry. On the other end of the spectrum, this fictional story of a monolithic, uncaring, hellish company is like a long form Dilbert comic strip. Funny (maybe not if you’re in one of those companies though), creative and a bit twisted. Not the best Barry though, if you haven’t read his stuff, start with Jennifer Government.