At the end of 2010, I posted a list of the stuff I had been reading (or mostly listening to as audio books) in that year. People seemed to appreciate that kind of content, so I thought I’d share what I’ve read since.
As Black Friday is upon us and another merry season coming up, you might find some excuses on the list to stock up on brain food for yourself or gifts for family, friends and colleagues.
This is the list of the books I read in 2011 and 2012 thus far. I can recommend all, except where otherwise noted…
In the spirit of the time honored tradition of new year’s resolutions, I thought I’d share what I’ve decided to STOP doing for 2011 and beyond.
So without further ado, let’s indulge in some modern day voodoo / sympathetic magic / psycho-cybernetics / egotistical self-justifying cathartic mumbojumbo, shall we:
In 2011 and beyond, I will:
STOP underachieving to stay within my comfort zone (see 2.)
I guess you could say that I’m a notorious underachiever. It’s a lazyness an energy conservation kinda thing, I venture. Thermodynamics and all that. I guess being “really good” doesn’t make you “remarkable”, though. I don’t blame anyone but myself, but school and being a slavesalaryman for years certainly made me lose the will to live reinforced the path of least resistance in me.
START stepping way out of my comfort zone by going back to being self-employed, founding and bootstrapping a new startup – and moving together with my long-time girlfriend.
STOP working hard at waiting for someone else to pick, deputize, knight or crown me (see 1.)
START taking matters back into my own clammy hands and leave the greasy pole salaryman rat-race. Who’s the boss now? Well, I am. I alone am now responsible for my success – or failure.
STOP only doing what I’m good at (see 1.and 2.)
Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you should be doing it. Have you ever thought about that?
START throwing myself off cliffs, forcing me to learn how to fly whilst falling.
STOP not focussing my time and energy (see 1. 3. and 5.)
Passion comes easy – I seem to have unlimited amounts of it. Focusing it is hard – I have seemingly unlimited interests and fleeting distractions.
START focusing, disciplining, killing all but one of my pet projects (or at least put them in suspended animation or better yet – put them up for adoption, delegate them or give them away), working towards ONE goal doing ONE thing at a time on ONE project, putting my skin in the game, committing the time and resources, going out on a limb, sticking my neck out and risking failure.
STOP criticizing (see 3. and 4.)
START giving, helping, praising more than receiving, criticizing, chiding. It’s easy and cheap to be negative and criticize or comment without taking the time to reflect and suggest solutions and improvements. But, as Carnegie reminded us: “Be lavish in your praise and hearty in your approbation.” and as Lincoln said: “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.”. I’m OK, you’re OK. I guess not everybody’s OK, but we’re both OK, OK?
If you catch me relapsing, feel free to verbally abuse and humiliate me in public and on the Internet.
In the spirit of sharing, here’s an alphabetic list of the books I read and lectures listened to in 2010. I think I learned something from each and every one of them, so I can recommend them all.
These days, I mostly consume books as audiobooks from Audible to fill the gaps.
I’d love to learn more about what you’ve been reading lately. What did you read in 2010? Do you have any ideas on what I should be reading in 2011? Did you read any of the books on my list too? What did you think? Tell me in the comments below!
On why we seem to instantly connect with some people. On why we ‘click’, see?
In the video above, Ori Brafman “[…] talks about the power of oxytocin in making instant connections with people, and how it affects our personal and professional relationships. Vulnerability and proximity are both important factors in making lasting connections and relationships, and affect workplace efficiency and collaboration.”
Gary’s highly personal (and after-the-fact) advice for success. But if you need to learn how to hustle, listen to Gary. He’s awesome! I recommend the audio version to hear the author read it himself with added bonus materials. Contagious energy and passion.
Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
by The Stanford Technology Ventures Program
Are you into entrepreneurship like me? Are you thinking of starting your own venture? Your own startup? Not exactly a book, but who cares. You should listen to every single one of these 130+ awesome talks with lessons learned by the superstars of the entrepreneur world. I know I did and I am eternally grateful for the insane amount of time it has already saved me by learning from other people’s mistakes.
From Harvard to the Facebook
The Art of Negotiation
Secret to Successful Negotiation
Negotiations On and Off the Field
Research Lens on Understanding Entrepreneurial Firms
Phases of a Startup
A history of venture capital
A Panorama of Venture Capital and beyond
Stimulating innovation and creativity in the workplace
Fall 2009 Quarter Roundup: What did we learn?
Getting to Plan B
Honest Advice on Starting a Company
by Sally Hogshead (@SallyHogshead)
On discovering the triggers of fascination behind yourself and your brand – and how to tweak them to better communicate your values and position yourself.
Because everybody should remember to put themselves in the other people’s shoes, know never to play a dominated strategy, use iterative deletion and know about best responses and the Nash Equilibrium. And because Prof. Ben Polak is an amazing teacher! And it’s free from Yale.
(Aside: Yale University uses the Plone CMS – An awesome and humbling factoid for me personally. Yay!)
Interesting facts about why we (or at least some) attach value to and desire mundane objects that has been owned by or in some case were only in the vicinity of a famous person; how under some conditions an object is thought of possessing some sort of “essence” of the famous person, but I found it going here, there and everywhere rather shallowly without arriving at any particular place.
I’d say just stop worrying because you’re going to die and you can’t stop it. Period. Being curious about other works [than described further down in this list] of Carnegie’s made me read this one (so you probably won’t have to).
A fractal view on financial turbulence. Provides interesting insights on market mechanics, or rather the actual lack of empirical insights to such. Do not let the math aspect scare you: It’s a [relatively] math phobic safe book. You should read it.
This one really put me off by referencing pseudo-science as science-fact. Aside from that fact, it says something along the lines of that you can program yourself to be and behave like you want to. Simplistically speaking, just tell yourself “you are the kind of person who does x” or “you are NOT the kind of person that does y” in front of a mirror and you’re well on your way to change your programming. It’s all about self-image, see? I guess it works to some extent, but I’d stay away on account of the pseudo-drivel.
More interestingly it’s also talking about the tortoise mind or the lizard brain; the power of your brain processing problems without your active thinking, better explained here:
(Aside: I’d really love to read more about any scientific research on the “Tortoise Mind”. Perhaps you know of any?) UPDATE: I found the motherlode in Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow“.
Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions
by Gary Klein
A cognitive psychologist’s research on “naturalistic decision-making”. Ever wondered why you as an experienced professional make (good) decisions in seconds that you find hard or next to impossible to explain to say, you boss or even to yourself? Enter RPD (Recognition Primed Decision):
Recognition-primed decision (RPD) is a model of how people make quick, effective decisions when faced with complex situations. In this model, the decision maker is assumed to generate a possible course of action, compare it to the constraints imposed by the situation, and select the first course of action that is not rejected. RPD has been described in diverse groups including ICU nurses, fireground commanders, chess players, and stock market traders. It functions well in conditions of time pressure, and in which information is partial and goals poorly defined. The limitations of RPD include the need for extensive experience among decision-makers (in order to correctly recognize the salient features of a problem and model solutions) and the problem of the failure of recognition and modeling in unusual or misidentified circumstances. It appears to be a valid model for how human decision-makers make decisions.
Hah. Stick that to the next person requiring you to explain and/or have you follow the next theoretical decision processes du jour based on evaluation and elimination of total options based on explicit input: “It’s RPD, mofo!”. Another case for intrinsic knowledge beating explicit knowledge, I wager. A must read.
Challenging even more common (mis)conceptions and raising even more interesting questions with applied economics. It surprised me as being at least as funny and provocative as their first book, Freakonomics.
I think I read it the first time back in 1994 or 95 understanding little but being highly intrigued. As I read it again in 2010 I don’t know if I actually understood much more but it sure as hell raised a number of interesting questions and provoked a lot of new thoughts so I guess I found it even more fascinating now as it’s arguably obvious to most that we’re living smack in the middle of his ‘prophecy’. Spoiler: The Medium is the Message.
Unthinking, unlearning, relearning marketing, helping small and large businesses master the art of (un)marketing with example stories in this day and age: Listen and engage, do not interrupt and try to find better ways of cold calling because you know it sucks.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, I’d love to learn more about what you’ve been reading lately. What did you read in 2010? Do you have any ideas on what I should be reading in 2011? Did you read any of the books on my list too? What did you think? Tell me in the comments below!
You see, as I was doing my due diligence for my crazy new venture, I jotted down some notes on the history of digital social networks leading up to the Facebook era and I thought why not share them with you here.
Most of the following is based on to the level of theft in no small part, verbatim quotations from the book “The Facebook Effect” by David Kirkpatric (@davidkirkpatric) and some tidbits from Wikipedia, Google and my own faulty memory.
And, yes – it is heavily biased towards the US and Europe since I did not have much good source material on say, e.g. Chinese, Korean and Japanese social networks. Feel free to fill me in.
I claim Fair Use, as in the “Please don’t sue. That wouldn’t be fair.” kind. The following content is meant for educational purposes only . If you want to use or republish, please make sure to credit and attribute David Kirkpatric and Wikipedia. Commercial (re)use would probably be bad for your karma.
Here we go – A Brief History of Social Networks:
J. C. R. Licklider Source: Wikimedia Commons License: Public Domain
While initially conceived as an information and resource sharing network linking a variety of counter-cultural economic, educational, and social organizations with each other and the public, Community Memory was soon generalized to be an information flea market . Once the system became available, the users demonstrated that it was a general communications medium that could be used for art, literature, journalism, commerce, and social chatter.
Monochrome BBS – A more recent modern BBS
The first BBS is launched. (BTW, if you were a part of the BBS scene or want to learn more about it, check out this acclaimed and extensive documentary.)
The first public dial-up Bulletin Board System (BBS) was developed by Ward Christensen (@WardXmodem). According to an early interview, while he was snowed in during the Great Blizzard of 1978 in Chicago, Christensen along with fellow hobbyist Randy Suess, began preliminary work on the Computerized Bulletin Board System, or CBBS. CBBS went online on February 16, 1978
Diagram of usenet, Author: Benjamin D. Esham License: Public Domain
Usenet enables members to post to groups dedicated to specific topics. (Check out the highly interesting book “Netizens” for much more on the history and impact of Usenet and the Internet.)
Usenet is a worldwide distributed Internet discussion system. It developed from the general purpose UUCP architecture of the same name.
Duke University graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979 and it was established in 1980. Users read and post messages (called articles or posts, and collectively termed news) to one or more categories, known as newsgroups. Usenet resembles a bulletin board system (BBS) in many respects, and is the precursor to the various Internet forums that are widely used today. Usenet can be superficially regarded as a hybrid between email and web forums. Discussions are threaded, with modern news reader software, as with web forums and BBSes, though posts are stored on the server sequentially.
Minitel built in 1982 Author: Tieum License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
The French postal service is the first to bring the concepts of commenting in online groups and chartrooms to a mass consumer audience with the launch of the national online service, Minitel
A side note, from Wikipedia:
The German “Bildschirmtext” (BTX) is almost as old as Minitel and technically very similar, but it was largely unsuccessful because consumers had to buy expensive decoders to use it. The German postal service held a monopoly on the decoders that prevented competition and lower prices. Few people bought the boxes, so there was little incentive for companies to post content, which in turn did nothing to further box sales. When the monopoly was loosened, it was too late because PC-based online services had started to appear.
AOL logo 1991 to 2006 Source: brandsoftheworld.com License: Fair Use
America Online starts (albeit under another name; Quantum Computer Services, Inc.)
Check out David Carlson’s Online Timeline for more information about the world coming online 1990 – 1994.
match.com screenshot anno 2008
match.com started by Gary Kremen as a proof of concept for Electric Classifieds which aimed to provide classified advertising systems for newspapers launches, filled with personal information for a highly specific purpose.
Classmates.com created by by Randy Conrads launches to help people identified by their real names to find and communicate with former school friends.
PlanetAll a social networking, calendaring, and address book site launches in November 1996. It was founded by a group of Harvard Business School and MIT graduates including Warren Adams. (A big thanks to James Currier for pointing out that I had missed PlanetAll!).
PlanetAll was possibly the first social networking site on the Internet. The site had more than 100,000 groups, organized around real-world counterparts such as academic institutions and employers. When the user entered the name of his or her university, the service would list the user’s classmates who were also members of the service. Users could exchange authorization to access the each others’ contacts. Many sites at the time offered web-based address books and calendars, but PlanetAll.com combined the two: when a user entered travel plans into the calendar, the service would cross-reference the destination with the address book, as well as the user’s contacts’ travel plans; the site would then notify users when they would cross paths with their contacts.
sixdegrees.com founded by Andrew Weinreich launches, takes social networks further. A breakthrough in use of real names. The first Rolodex in the cloud. Invitation only. At the time revolutionary. “Network me” feature for matching you with users that met your quality criteria. Failed due to operating costs, licensing costs, development and maintenance costs and users only having dialup Internet at the time (e.g. the service lacked photos due to bandwidth concerns). Bought out for 120 million. Shut down in late 2000. Weinreich was granted a broad reaching social network patent.
Ethnic focused networks Black Planet founded by Omar Wasow (@owasow) and Asian Avenue co-founded by Benjamin Sun, Peter Chen, Grace Chang, Michael Montero, and Calvin Wong launches with limited social networking functions.
The daily jolt (R.I.P. April 6, 2010) launches as a campus bulletin board for 12 Schools.
tickle.com launched originally as emode.com, with quizzes and tests for both entertainment and self-discovery, by James Currier and Rick Marini. Warren Adams of PlanetAll is an investor.
Swedish teen community Lunar Storm (R.I.P. August 8th 2010) launches
Ordinary people begins using email. Again, using addresses that typically would not correspond to their real names.
Address books of emails maintained on and within the services. Members did not identify real-life friends or establish regular communication pathways with them. Later in the decade, Instant Messaging (IM) services like ICQ, PowWow and Ubique to hold the same way. People used pseudonyms for themselves, not their real names.
On August 4, 1998, Amazon.com announces that it has agreed to acquire PlanetAll. Under terms of the agreement, Amazon.com acquired 100 percent of PlanetAll in exchange for 800,000 shares.
Amazon.com shuts down PlanetAll.com on July 2, 2000, telling PlanetAll members, “We are pleased to announce that we have completed the integration of the key e-commerce related features of PlanetAll.com into our main site at Amazon.com… Although PlanetAll.com will be going away, you’ll still be able to enjoy some of the tools that help you keep in touch with like-minded folks.”
2001 – 2002 : Social Networking bug hits Silicon Valley and SF
Cyworld (huge in Korea) adds social networking capabilities
“Network Effect” as explained by Wikipedia (excerpt):
In economics and business, a network effect (also called network externality) is the effect that one user of a good or service has on thevalue of that product to other people. When network effect is present, the value of a product or service increases as more people use it.
The classic example is the telephone. The more people own telephones, the more valuable the telephone is to each owner. This creates a positive externality because a user may purchase their phone without intending to create value for other users, but does so in any case.Online social networks work in the same way, with sites like Twitter and Facebook being more useful the more users join.
The expression “network effect” is applied most commonly to positive network externalities as in the case of the telephone. Negative network externalities can also occur, where more users make a product less valuable, but are more commonly referred to as “congestion” (as in traffic congestion or network congestion).
Network congestion tends to occur when a network node or link is carrying more data than it can handle, slowing down process times. Now, it may not sound serious but in fact, it is. So serious that it could cause something like Packet Loss, which means that any critical information that you are trying to send doesn’t reach its intended destination – this site has more information. With potential effects like this, learning how to prevent events like network congestion, and packet loss from happening will be very important to your network, as well as your online activities.
That being said, over time, positive network effects can create a bandwagon effect as the network becomes more valuable and more people join, in a positive feedback loop.
Friendster launches March 22nd by Jonathan Abrams (@ABRAMS), Peter Chin and Dave Lee. It gambles to lure users away from match.com. Uses real names and photos on profiles. You could search for friends near locations. Invitation only, befriend if you liked the photo. Cracked the code of the modern social network, defined basic structure. Problems; “Fakesters” – People with fake names, fake photos. Plagued by engineering misjudgments; did not scale, had major outages, performance issues. Mark Pincus (@markpinc)(later founder of Zynga) and Reid Hoffman (@quixotic) are investors.
Club Nexus launches by Stanford students Orkut Buyukkokten (@orkut) and Eytan Adar. Meant to connect Stanford students only. Complicated, too many features. (Bonus material: An analysis of Club Nexus by the founders.)
InCircle launches by Club Nexus founders. Alumni only.
Orkut Buyukkokten (@orkut) leaves for google. Programs a new social network prototype. Pitches it to google. orkut.com launches.
Tribe.net founded by Mark Pincus (@markpinc). A social network around specific interests. Burning Man, Alt Sex and connecting turned out to be what the users are more interested in instead of buying and selling things.
When Tagged launched in 2004 as a teen-only social network, security was a top priority. In October 2006 the site made a drastic change and went from being under-18 only, to allowing users of any age to join. This change has helped user registration skyrocket. In fact, Tagged was adding more users per day than MySpace in May of 2007.
YouTube sold to Google in November for $1.65 billion.
Dana Boyd & Nichole Ellison write in a paper:
“The salient features of a true social network”: “A service where a user can construct a public or semi-public profile, articulate a list of other users which whom they share a connection, and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. You establish your position in a complex network of relationships. And your profile positions you in the context of these relationships. Usely in order to discover otherwise hidden points of common interest or connection.”
Don’t we all just love this catch-all excuse for just about anything? It’s a poor albeit very convenient crutch; Of course I never have the time to do anything if it’s not planned and prioritized. I’m very guilty of omitting blogging from my time management.
(Time and task management and prioritizing in itself is another very interesting topic I will save for a later GTD post.)
2. No focus or general topic
All the blogs I read tend to read focus on some general or specific area of interest. The topics interest me, I know I can expect more of the same and hence I keep coming back. Makes sense. My blog varies wildly in width, quality, depth and (ir)regularity – probably to the point where my close friends and even my mother have lost any vague novelty interest by now.
Perhaps it’s descriptive of me as a person. I’m interested in a whole bunch of confusing things, chatty have a lot to say and a lot of biases opinions about most things. I’m probably hard to conveniently tag.
3. Lack of incentives
My .com biz already had a very high page rank even before SEO and SEM entered the vernacular (ATH 9/10, currently 7/10) and asking Google for my name returned relevant top results pages long before I started blogging. I never intended to make money from blogging. I have no books to flog, no conference talks to pimp offer, no sponsors, no ads, no agenda, no brand, no product, no concrete goals behind the blog. I do not have anything to sell you – other than myself, if you will.
I did have a vague notion about sharing my thoughts and ideas with the world and participate in a sort of global conversation. (No, seriously.) I’m not going to pretend it was all well thought out, though.
Twitter is now catering for my conversational needs in more and perhaps better ways than my blog. That is perhaps a topic worthy of a separate post in itself.
4. No experience with the blog format
I do write professionally on a regular basis. It does not come particularly close to blogging, though. I do not have to consider that the whole world – or as the case may be no one – is going to read it. In my day job I get paid to deliver a well informed and professional opinion; Palatable or controversial, witty or droll.
On a my personal blog, I tend to end up with long winded blog posts like this. That post takes too long to read and took too long to write. Not surprisingly, it didn’t make for much of a conversation either.
My lack of experience with blogging probably leads to a lot of lost opportunities. A successful blogger sees a new post whereas I’m still stuck in an old mindset. As an example, I enjoy taking pictures and shoot videos and upload them to flickrviddleryoutube and or vimeo to share with you. It very often ends there. Now, someone with a different mindset than myself would probably have made a small story to go with many of those uploads and recycle blog them.
5. No lab experience
According to social media oracle niceguy Chris Brogan, a lab is something you could need.
It’s not like I had no web exposure prior to securing this painfully long and stupid cleverly named URL, but i never conducted any conscious lab experiments before entering the fray.
On the other hand, this probably IS my lab – my soapbox.