Posts Tagged ‘reading’

An essential guide to fostering online community

February 17, 2010

[Building Social Web Application book cover]Building Social Web Applications
by Gavin Bell
O’Reilly (October, 2009)

Gavin Bell draws on his extensive experience to offer a well structured guide to adding community elements to a website or application. His book will help any professional planning a social strategy, designing a set of social features, determining the types of relationships to foster among users, and even determining how best to manage change in an existing site or online structure.

Bell covers a wide gamut of issues that a site planner will need to consider, from developing the data schema for people, relationships, and objects; to how best to expose APIs to third-party developers; to the process of rolling out a new product or feature. Anyone developing a social website or app should keep this book handy throughout the process.

Bell and I share a publisher and our titles cover some similar issues. When I first picked up Bell’s finished book I gritted my teeth with envy. As I quickly devoured the book, though, I was relieved (or, at least I convinced myself) that our books are complementary and are each useful in their own way.

If you’re looking for one book to guide you through the entire process, from conception to launch and into the life of a social web application, then this is the book for you.

(via Christian Crumlish “mediajunkie’s review of Building Social Web Applications”.)

Richard Fleming's Walking to Guantanamo: A closely observed true thing

February 5, 2010

Walking to Guantanamo
by Richard Fleming
Commons (Oct 1, 2008)

I loved this book from start to finish. Fleming is a charming and self-deprecating travel companion: the best kind. His pictorial eye strives to transmit clear, unfiltered images and as his readers we make up our own minds about the pros of cons of hitchhiking across Cuba. Fleming’s wit makes it one of the more enjoyable learning experiences I could imagine, and the people, birds, religions, and politics of the island now mean something to me in a way they never had before, something that refuses to accept a black or white view of the world. Fleming shares his open lens with us and reveals the small truths of human interactions.

A+++++++++ WOULD BUY AGAIN!!!!

(via Christian Crumlish “mediajunkie’s review of Walking to Guantanamo.)

When it comes to thinking, bigger really is better

April 27, 2009

cover of Think Big ManifestoMichael Port, author of a number of bestselling sales-guru business books, has now come out with a pocket volume called The Think Big Manifesto: Think You Can’t Change Your Life (and the World?) Think Again.
I like the arresting graphic design of the book (a publicist sent me an advance copy) but was somewhat wary of the bold marketing language on the wrapper. Still, I found on opening the book that I was drawn in by the author’s cool, knowing style and I prepared myself to be convinced.
I started reading the book, nodding my head: I agreed with just about everything I read. The prose voice is somewhat breathless, though, and I had trouble staying focused on the book’s flow. As brief as it is, I noticed myself skimming ahead to the summarizing statements.
I found myself agreeing with all of the specific advice in the book and wondering whether I can (or do) actually follow it myself. What most of it comes down to is daring to think big and avoiding the doubts and negativity and small thinking that can so often hold us back.
I like this kind of thing, though I am also wary of it. That is, I want self-help, breakthrough, artistic and entrepreneurial leaps, but I have also seen a lot of snake oil and easy answers in my day. So it’s love/hate with this type of thing for me, and sometimes I adore it (<a href="The Power of Now, The War of Art, Money & the Meaning of Life) and other times it doesn’t stick.
For all of the books of this ilk I’ve devoured, where are my masterpieces, my killer apps? I’m still waiting to see if this one will take.

Invincibility overrated

March 5, 2009

Soon I Will Be Invincible Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Something Jonathan Lethem might have cooked up after watching all three seasons of the Venture Brothers while perusing the Watchmen graphic novel.

I enjoyed it!

View all my reviews.

I'm interviewing Nicholas Meriwether

June 13, 2007

Over on the Well, in the public Inkwell topic, I’m interviewing my pal Nick Meriwether about his new book, All Graceful Instruments: The Contexts of the Grateful Dead, a scholarly work looking at the Dead phenomenon from a variety of perspectives.
You can submit questions to this interview by mailing them to inkwell AT well DOT com.

This doesn't surprise me

June 8, 2005

Quoting from More Alan Furst Blogging:

More Alan Furst blogging, this time from Unqualified Offerings:

Unqualified Offerings: Henry Farrell got me into a to-do for novelist Alan Furst at GWU this evening. The food was fabulous and the author did not disappoint. Controversial GWU President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg did the introduction, and it was good – the kind of informed appreciation a writer can get, if lucky, from a very smart fan. See previous Furst-blogging on this site and current Furst-blogging from Brad DeLong. Furst read a few pages from The Foreign Correspondent, which will be out in time for Father’s Day – 2006. I have to say, the excerpt completely hooked me…

Now excuse me while I turn green with envy.

If anything I’d expect to see more discussion of Alan Furst in blogs. He’s an incredible writer and as good as Patrick O’Brian is at conjuring up a different time in all its nuances. Now that I’ve read all his books I’m always impatient for the next one, and other supposedly similar writers out there (not naming any names) don’t quite scratch the same itch.

How to teach science

December 13, 2004

Quoting from The Poor Man: He Sat Right Down And Wrote Himself A Letter:

[I]t is a waste of time to teach utterly uninterested schoolkids how to calculate reaction rates and trajectories of cannonballs and so on, things which are going to be about as useful to most of them in the grown-up world as being able to name all of the seven dwarfs, instead of teaching them A) what is science, B) what isn’t science, C) how to tell one from the other.

The result of this is that 99% of journalists, and the public at large, think that science is just one rather boring topic for “Crossfire”-style argumentation, where there’s one side screaming one set of lies and the other side screaming another and everyone hates America and/or babies and now here’s some ads for Matt Damon movies and dick pills.

noticing gujari girl

June 20, 2004

Thanks to Gwen, I’ve found gujari girl:

I never thought the first person in Walnut Creek to whom I’d defend Oakland would be an Indian guy from New York!

I’m now two L(G)L behind on photos. If I post mine we’ll have triangulation on a few of the scenes from the other day.

DeLillo's 'The Names'

October 1, 2003

In following the Plame Affair updates this morning I was reading the comments following a post (about evil Bob Novak) at Kevin Drum’s site.
One comment mentioned the Philip Agee story. I don’t know much about it, but it may have inspired the law that was allegedly broken from within the White House, and it seems to have stirred up the queen mother and retired presidential dad at the time. Here’s Mitchell Freeman’s take:

[T]he ex-CIA agent Agee … defends himself by saying [of] Richard Welch, the CIA station chief in Greece he identified in Counterspy magazine a few months before Greek terrorists killed Welch in 1975 (these terrorists also killed Greek officials during the then-military dictatorship in Greece), [that]

  1. [He] lived in the same house as the previous station chief, who was already known in political circles as CIA;
  2. And … really was known in many Greek circles to be CIA before Agee identified him in his new magazine.

Ironically, Agee sued Barbara Bush in the early 1990s because her autobiography named Agee as a reason Welch was killed. And did Barbara fight this traitor, as most Republican insiders still call Agee? Nope. SHE INSTEAD AGREED TO REMOVE THE CHARGE FROM HER BOOK.

I’ve trimmed away the Novakula material and only left in the Bar Bush stuff because excising it would reverse the spin (reaccusing Agee), when I know nothing of the details, except that the Heinleiners online have taken to asking why the lefties suddenly care about national security blah blah blah and where were they when Phil Agee blah blah blah.
OK, this is not the place for politics. However, this did all remind me of one of my favorite Don DeLillo books, The Names. I don’t want to give away the plot and so much of the story and the setting and the descriptions and the imagery is so detailed and fine that I merely recommend the book to anyone who hasn’t read it and say to those who have, isn’t it great?
Oh, and the plot vaguely resembles some parts of the Welch story above. Did everyone else already know that but me?

Diversity in the real world

August 15, 2003

In People Like Us, noninsane conservative columnist David Brooks writes

Maybe somewhere in this country there is a truly diverse neighborhood in which a black Pentecostal minister lives next to a white anti-globalization activist, who lives next to an Asian short-order cook, who lives next to a professional golfer, who lives next to a postmodern-literature professor and a cardiovascular surgeon. But I have never been to or heard of that neighborhood. Instead, what I have seen all around the country is people making strenuous efforts to group themselves with people who are basically like themselves.

I recommend he come visit us in Oakland. He’s pretty much described the block I live on, give or take a few equivalents.