Recommended Reading

The Table Where Rich People Sit

kathy gave this to me the year our combined taxable income was subsubpoverty level. the story is beautiful. the illustrations are sublime. i'd give this book to anyone without money to cheer them up. i'd give this book to anyone with too much money to remind them whats really important.

The Little Prince

what makes life and friendship worthwhile? ask the little prince from outer space. cindy, my ci20 teacher at ucsd, gifted me with this book in 1988, i just rediscovered it and the second reading is a welcome reminder of real matters of consequence that compete with daily distraction. seemed so obvious when i was 20, twelve years later i can identify with many of the flawed characters.

Player Piano

ever feel like engineers and technologists 0wn the world today? kurt vonnegut predicted this nightmare and carries it too far in Player Piano. if you work for a big bureaucratic company, or exist among a sea of geek colleagues, dive into this and watch what happens when technology and technologists run everything and run amuck. i re-read this when Inc. Magazine placed it atop their list called Eight Books to Read Before You Start Your Business.

The Invisible Web

if you're a web research professional, you probably already keep your eyes peeled for new resources in Gary Price's directory, and read Chris Sherman's columns to keep abreast of trends. Now that some of the web has fallen into place, their introduction to Invisible Web resources is a first crack at organizing and understanding the web's less-traveled regions.

3 Clicks Away : A Manager's Survival Guide to Winning on the Web

these guys (Michael Drapkin, Jon Lowy, and Dan Marovitz) have built some serious web properties together, and they share their experience in 3 clicks away. most interesting to me were the real-life anecdotes, culled from the construction, care and feeding of some of the biggest ecommerce and content sites on the web, notably and not a title for inexperienced readers. if you are an enterpreneur, contractor, consultant, or project manager in the web industry you will probably appreciate some or all.

"Hi, Pizza Man!"

virginia walter was one of my favorite professors at ucla. this is her first children's book, published the year i graduated. never saw fit to check it out until i started babysitting for my niece. she loves it, two thumbs up. "Hi Pizza Kitty!"

The Diagnosis: A Novel

the only book i have every purchased directly from the book review. the ny times featured it one day, and it sounds like the story of my life. fortunately i am not as technified as the protagonist of this novel, but i can certainly empathize. he's got so much going on, so distracted and out of human reach he just loses it on the subway one day, ends up in the hospital subjected to an illegal experiment, parallel mindfuck in ancient greece. not done. so far so good. Alan P. Lightman's style is more like william gibson and less like neal towne stephenson.

Foundation Trilogy

this was falling out of eli's backpack in high school, i found it laying around the cabin on winter vacation and got sucked in. historical commentary through science fiction, future as a little ego-buffer in case you don't want to admit the human race sometimes sucks so bad. i'm having fun substituting my favorite earthly bureaucracies and religions for the made-up institutions that inhabit these three stories. the all-in-one book is out of print, but each story is still available separately:


i walked into gleeco's before an ice skating excursion, and he let me take Valis home. still reading. not so clear-cut as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (aka Blade Runner) but pleasantly schizo so far...

Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from the Baffler

This is a collection of essays from The Baffler, which would've made the pompous part of college glide by the same way Mad Magazine might make elementary school go down easier. took me (a card-carrying library scientist) more than one year to find it after jon lowy recommended it title, author, and all. Get your own and follow along as we take apart advertising, consumer culture, the music industry, publishing, etc. Put on a Gap outfit and start reading.

Information Ecology: Mastering the Information and Knowledge Environment

valuable resource to help make sense and short work of some interactivate consulting projects. it is a well thunk out approach to analysing the information ecosystem (strategy, politics, culture, behaviour, staff, management, architecture, and organization) of a given company or field.

Stranger in a Strange Land

think i read this for the first time back in junior high school acquiring the word grok at an early age. love the way heinlein uses an innocent man from mars to poke fun at us earthlings -- with our poor excuses for peace, government, art, religion, love, etc. most recently read a special unabridged version of the book that heinlein's widow released upon inheriting the copyright.

Finite and Infinite Games

when Pepsy Goebel remarked that this book was substellar, i had to investigate -- and now i have to agree. However, the sentence or two on the cover are worth the $6 cost of admisssion. if you press on, the title premise is way overextended to include an entire philosophy of life. but the cover offers some serious food for thought :-)

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

Does for Nanotechnology what Snow Crash did for Virtual Reality -- makes a headache topic into something fascinating and completely approachable through a great story -- heredity vs. environment vs. three girls racing to learn to learn in time to save society.

The Logic of Failure: Recognizing and Avoiding Error in Complex Situations

This is the sort of book i wish i had bumped into years ago. The Logic of Failure bridges the gaps between several disciplines to give you a clear perspective on how people think and behave in a problem-solving situation, and why many well-intentioned solutions are short-term at best, often detrimental in the long run. The work is well researched, clearly written for a wide, non-expert audience. easily makes the case for strategic planning, and the basis in computer-modeled environments sent me running straight to play freeciv after reading it!


picked this up for a return trip from london, it is by orson scott card, who also wrote Ender's Game. very enjoyable, all sorts of parallels to real world earth problems, very amusing use of obsessive compulsive disorder, the ending left some loose ends but it was a pleasure to read.

Snow Crash

If you are curious about virtual reality, why people are so interested in avatars, and how VR might affect the lives of pizza delivery boys, skateboard punk chicks, and you, this is a good way to find out without poring over the VRML standard or otherwise boring yourself.

getting to yes

Getting to Yes

A birthday gift from Eli and Jacob in the eighth grade. It took me another year to finally begin reading it, i wish i had sooner - it is awesome. I hate conflict, wheeling, dealing, and negotiating with folks, friends, lovers -- but this puts some method to the madness and makes the overused cliche "win-win" a reality.



I wanted to read something by the oft-mentioned author of Neuromancer, so kathy bought me this one. I like rock star culture, and the plot hinges on whether or not a flesh-and-blood rock star will marry an avatar, in this case a female hologram projected by a multinational corporate interest.

being digital
[ tape | hardcover ]

Being Digital

If you want the big picture on the digital age, this is a fast way to get the snapshot. Author is the founder of the Media Lab at MIT, writing from 20 years of experience that few others can even imagine. Not a technical or difficult book, filled with stories, anecdotes and ideas for adapting as society makes the difficult transition from atoms to bits.

atlas shrugged
[ hardcover ]

Atlas Shrugged

[Not an endorsement of the author's fucked-up political and personal views.] Beautifully written book, the female protagonist kicks ass. An inspiring book when you feel outnumbered. The didactic politics are so obvious you can just disregard them. Especially interesting to re-read with the Microsoft anti-trust investigation going on. Amuse yourself and check out the polarized customer book reviews on Amazon - scores either a one or a five with everyone.
the fountainhead
[ hardcover ]

The Fountainhead

[Not an endorsement of the author's fucked-up political and personal views.] Predicts the corruption and chaos of web site design and development 50 years ahead of time. About an uncompromising architect in a society where things are increasingly designed and executed by committee with pathetic results. If you build web sites you will have some good laughs reading or re-reading this :-). p.s. - don't rent the movie, it sucks.
information architecture for the world wide web

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites

Information design done right. Our projects seldom have the time and budget to do things properly, so its nice to hear how things should work. I'm still reading it.

software configuration management

Practical Software Configuration Management (Latenight Developer's Handbook)

My crash course intro to the principles of version control. There's sections for working alone, in teams, and to cover the basics. The examples use GNU RCS, but the principles are clearly separated from the examples. The appendix is a cross-platform survey of available version control and configuration management tools, including CVS.

latex users guide

LaTeX : A Documentation Preparation System User's Guide and Reference Manual

When you're sick of Microsoft Word, or even burnt out on PageMaker, take a look at LaTeX, a free typesetting system that puts expensive commercial word-processors and page layout tools to shame. This is the original users manual by the creator of LaTeX, my copy is quite beat up, first as a learning aid and eternally as a reference.

learning emacs

Learning GNU Emacs

Emacs is the free software from which Microsoft Word has lifted almost every major feature from over the years. Emacs is an incredible free text editor that comes with custom packages to turn it into a best-of-breed tool for doing everything from email to html hacking. Emacs = eight megs and constantly swapping - but people seem to have more memory in their PC's these days, so there's no excuse not to give it a try!

enders game

Ender's Game

A jr. high student in my karate class named Ben handed this to me one night and said he thought i'd like it. definitely, for many reasons. Writing in the 1970's, the author accurately foreshadows political manipulation in the Internet and Usenet (called ``newsnet'' in the book), and computer security, information warfare issues, and the trend towards younger and younger high-tech employees -- all rolled into an awesome space adventure story that is too good to put down. ben still hasn't got his book back, btw.

bots and other internet beasties

Bots and Other Internet Beasties

I mostly read (and re-read) the chapter that my brother Daniel wrote. If you're designing a spider, search engine,  or intelligent agent, this is a good place to start for the technical background, although there's not any step-by-step recipes.

the art of loving

The Art of Loving

Disregard the dated Freudian psychology and this is an awesome way to help your mind come to terms with Love, as an Art and not just a little thing you ``fall into.''

tog on interface

Tog on Interface

I read this in grad school for a paper on Art and the UI, and read it again in the autumn of 1997 as we started work on picture database product. The book is a greatest hits compilation of bruce tognazzini's ui columns from a Macintosh developer publication. The development principles are helpful for any visual interface project.

nuggets in the ground

Nuggets in the Ground : A Beginner's Guide to Aoinagi Karate

[ by Raymond R. Castilonia ] If you practice traditional martial arts, especially Shito-Ryu Karate, you will find this book a treat. It is privately written and published, but may be available by special order from Amazon. No, you can't have my copy at any price :-).

illusions - adventures of a reluctant messiah

Illusions : The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

I always knew that jesus was a mechanic from indiana. ``you don't tell the quality of a master by the size of [his] crowds...'' Combines Stranger in a Strange Land, Atlas Shrugged, and The Little Prince, set to the tune of U2 playing Woodie Guthrie's ``Jesus Christ.''


MADvertising: A MAD Look at 50 Years of MADison Avenue

Everything i needed to know about marketing i learned in grade school. really did. this MAD Magazine comic book is quite the educational tool. With tongue in cheek it points up the majority of slimy tactics used by mass marketers in print, television and face-to-face sales. Why get an MBA when you can just read this?


JobShift:How to Prosper in a Workplace Without Jobs

Odds are the work you do everyday has little to nothing to do with your printed job description. JobShift offers a carefully researched and clearly presented explanation why - ``jobs'' as our parents and grandparents knew them were a product of the industrial age and are going away. The author offers some career-building tools, but i've bought and read this [twice] for the first 55 pages.

history of the sierra nevada

History of the Sierra Nevada

One of a handful of books i read on the Sierra Institute trek. This is not a geological and environmental history of glaciers and earthquakes but a human and social history of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Colorful anecdotes and characters explain how things got on the map.

stop stealing sheep and find out how type works

Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works

If you've ever gone font-happy in a word processor, this book will put you on the road to recovery. An example-laden guide to using typefaces effectively: part science, always an Art, principles of design. The examples come with some explanation in English, but speak largely for themselves. Yes, the title is explained.

Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape

Looking for the most incredible mountain light on earth? the photographer/author Galen Rowell has a gift for committing magic light to film. Anyone who loves the mountains but does not live there would enjoy something like this as a reminder take themselves backpacking. Mostly landscape photography, environmental phenomenon you'll be lucky to ever witness in-person, let alone figure out how to photograph.

the unix haters handbook

The Unix-Haters Handbook/Book and Barf Bag

I can't believe this ``real UNIX user's manual'' went out of print. It's a comic (but altogether accurate) look at the UNIX operating system, from its inception as a virus to the woes and amusement it has caused for programmers, system administrators, and end-users forever after. Much content is snarfed from the UNIX-haters listserv, and organized and presented with a vehemence that only a true lover of UNIX could fathom.

programming as if people mattered
[ hardcover ]

Programming As If People Mattered : Friendly Programs, Software Engineering, and Other Noble Delusions

I bought this book without even realizing the author was the cute geek i occasionally bumped into in the halls at First Virtual. Some cute geek - better known as the author of MIME, among other things. this is a brilliant interdisciplinary effort to reconcile the experience of software users with the intentions of software designers. It is not terribly technical, enjoyable anecdotes and examples from the author's work on the Andrew user interface.

copyright  ©  February 06 2023 sean dreilinger url: