Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky, Free by Chris Anderson, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, anything by Seth Godin. Just some of the books I’ve decided to not read given everyone else is extolling their virtues. Finite time and infinite words mean that for every one of these I read, there is another book I won’t. Shirky’s book in particular I should think is fantastic but with everyone in tech and online media talking about it and pushing the ideas of it on their blogs, on Twitter and at conferences I’d like to be influenced by different perspectives. I’m sure there’s a degree of Chinese Whispers to this but without reading Shirky I’ve heard most of the examples from his book already. Subtleties might be missed but this being modern times and modern media the ideas will come around and around again.
Even if all in these books are sound, these books with mass appeal push industry down one route. Perhaps another form of cognitive dissonance at the expense of underlying theories. With everyone sharing the same reading lists it feels like that the influences on business are homogenising. Just another version of the top 10 shelves in Waterstones. Sociology, philosophy, antropology are all being mashed into pop sociology/tech books. If we all look at the world with the same set of collective lenses then will we more or less see the same thing or get pushed along the same lines? Only when differing and opposing (but considered) views happen and smash together do we begin to see things properly. 3D instead of 2D or 1D.
I’m off to read the Communist Manifesto (hey, I was in Cuba!), Hidden Culture, Being Good and Beano Christmas Annual 1987.
Hi Damien, really liked this piece. What do you think of the idea of re-visiting really older material…e.g. Ignatius of Loyola on being a powerful influencer? Lawrence of Arabia on wide awake dreamers? And of course poetry? Throw in a dash of quantum physics???
You’d be better off with the entirety of Orwell and “The Iron Heel” by Jack London rather then reading the Communist Manifesto, it’s a pretty dry document.
Indeed, Guevara and Fidel took precious little from it’s playbook.
I don’t think I’d have the balls to go the whole hog like that, but I’m trying to mix and match – one mainstream book followed by one eclectic pic.
You’re right though, that this leaves limited time for non-mainstream, but I think I’m happy balancing that with random youtube videos and ted talks.
I also think that as long as people keep reading Seth Godin but not following his advice, he’ll be niche enough for me.
Oh, and of course there’s always time for a good old beano annual.