Books read in 2000...
The Coming Internet Depression
Reviewed December 23, 2000 by Jon. I resisted reading this book for a long time - primarily because of the title. I feared that the book was written by an "old economy" Luddite who was going to revel in the silliness of the late '99 early '00 dot-com phenomenon. I could not have been more wrong. After reading many positive reviews, I decided to read the book. Mandel is the economics editor at Businessweek. He is an unabashed New Economy cheerleader. He feels, however, that the tech-driven economy is headed for trouble. His analysis of the linkage between tech-driven growth, venture capital funding, and the health of the economy is enlightening. Unlike some new-economy theorists, he does not suggest that economic laws have been repealed. He, rather, suggests that the tech and venture-driven economy has different characteristics than the industrial economy and requires different economic policies. He explains his ideas in a very clear fashion and, given his credentials as part of the economics establishment, seems to have an insightful perspective on the economy moving forward. This is a scary book to read on the eve of 2001.
The Last Precinct
Reviewed December 14, 2000 by Jon. Yet another Cornwell book. It picks up where the Black Notice leaves off. Again, too much Scarpetta angst, but the ongoing story is interesting. Definately candy reading for the beach or vacation.
Turn of the Century
Reviewed December 6, 2000 by Jon. Set at the turn of the Century an interesting novel about a TV producer who is married to a Software Executive. Lots of very Y2K kinds of scenes, name dropping, and techno-talk. Very contemporary. A bit hard to follow because of the complex characters and plot. Best read at one sitting. Entertaining, nevertheless.
Reviewed November 26, 2000 by Jon. Conventional wisdom is that digital technologies will make notions of distance and proximity obsolete. In this book, Joel Kotkin - commentator on the California business scene - takes a foray into urban/cultural geography making the assertion that the new economy will make cities more vital and vibrant than ever because the "creatives" that drive the new economy prefer to work in urban settings and communities of "artisan" peers. This is a pretty light book but deserves to be read by those who are interested in urban geography and the impact that digital technologies will have on the urban environment and real estate.
The Bear and The Dragon
Reviewed October 2, 2000 by Jon. This book is about Russia (the bear) and China (the dragon) and a war (of course) that the U.S. is drawn into. Good inside view of diplomacy and a study of the Chinese mindset. It was very interesting to read shortly after reading Wild Swans. Typical Clancy - lots of one dimensional characters and lots of techno-babble. Clancy gets a little heavy-handed interjecting his own political views. But a good summer read, nevertheless.
Weaving the Web
Reviewed October 2, 2000 by Jon. "The original design and the ultimate destiny of the World Wide Web by ins Inventor. A very easy read - Berners-Lee explains the ideas behind the web and his journey in trying to invent it. He talks about the history of the internet and hypertext and his fundamental vision of uniting the two. This is a very recent history book - over the last five year. Many characters and events are well known to those in the computer industry. Berners-Lee also paints his vision of the future and puts XML, HTML, HTTP, VRML, etc in context. Well worth the read. Autodesk in mentioned on Page 66.
Bobos in Paradise
Reviewed October 2, 2000 by Jon. "The new upper class and how they got there". Entertaining if somewhat lightweight book about the rise of the bourgeois bohemians (bobos). The author tries to reconcile the comfortable lifestyle of intellectuals. A very humorous look at the new yuppies. Very Marin.
Reviewed October 2, 2000 by Jon. Subtitled "Three Daughters of China". This is an autobiographical book about three generations of women growing up in China. It paints a very vivid picture of life in China from the early 1900s to the 1970s. It explains the overthrow of the Chinese Empire, the Rise of the Kuomintang, and the Rise of Communism. Also hightlights the long march and the cultural revolution. Book was recommended to Care by a fellow traveler in China. The book goes a long way to explain the Chinese culture and what life is like.
In a Sunburned Country
Reviewed September 17, 2000 by Jon. A travelogue through Australia. It brought back memories of our trip there but the writing is pretty lightweight. Don't know if it would be as meaningful if you have not been to Australia. Lots of local color and a good flavor for what Australia is like but it's a toss up as to whether this book is worth your time.
Reviewed September 10, 2000 by Jon. This is a reasonbly good book. The authors describe how "capital" works in the web world. They discuss the creation of value nets and describe a "b-web" typology consisting of agoras, aggregation, distributive networks, alliances, and value chains. They provide a framework and a vocabulary for thinking about strategy around value nets. The book is a bit academic but is nevertheless a valuable guide to web strategists. Reading is a bit rough but it is worthwhile.
Leading The Revolution
Reviewed August 6, 2000 by Jon. This is quite simply, a great book. It describes corporate strategy is a dynamic, action-oriented process of change. It describes how to institute radical corporate change and turn organizations into hotbeds of innovation. Hamel is a leading strategy theorist, the academic who defined the notion of corporate "core competence" and also the author of Competing for the Future. He sees strategy, not as a static exercise of analyzing the positions and likely actions of slow-moving competitors, but as a dynamic response to the environment rooted in the assets and skills an organization has. Hamel is now resident in Silicon Valley and he sees lessons learned from the venture capital community applied to corporate life in the form of "bringing Silicon Valley Inside". He talks of building dynamic markets inside corporations for ideas, capital, and talent.
Leading the Revolution is extremely accessible. It is written in the high-energy optimisitic tone of a Tom Peters book. It is also a well-designed book with good graphics and navigation aids. Leading the Revolution combines sound theory and a call to action with good examples in a very readable format. Hamel also has a web site for the book www.leadingtherevolution.com. If you only read one book on corporate strategy - this should be the one.
Reviewed August 6, 2000 by Jon. This book is pretty good, but not great. The authors really bring together a two trends - the increasing securitization of everything and the increased competition for talent. They foresee a day when we will capitalize ourselves by buying and selling securities based upon our future earning potential. They describe organizations as markets and talent as an asset to be traded. Perhaps one of the most interesting concepts is people should think of their assets or net worth more than their income. This plays to the securitization but also to thinking about how they grow their wealth. Kind of an interesting mix of personal finance, HR, and corporate theory. Unfortunately the book never comes together with crisp conclusions.
The Nature of Economies
Reviewed July 30, 2000 by Jon. Jane Jacobs is a very lucid author that taught me many years ago how ciites work economically (In The Economy of Cities and The Death and Life of Great American Cities). This book tries to unite ecology and economics and does a pretty good job. Jacobs uses the vehicle of a series of conversations between friends. The vehicle gets tedious at times, but the message is worthwhile. Jacobs does a good job of showing how efficient economies work according to ecological principles. Worth the read, despite the conversational vehicle.
Urban Life, Jim - But not as we know it.
Reviewed July 24, 2000 by Jon. This is William Mitchell's latest book on the effects of digital culture on the built environment. The book is a very light read - not technically deep at all. It will appeal to architects but is probably too "pop" for others. Some interesting observations on the nature of connectivity and what it will do to physical community. Not nearly as good as Mitchell's previous book - City of Bits.
Living on the Fault Line: Managing for Shareholder Value in the Age of
Reviewed July 18, 2000 by Jon. In his latest book, Geoffrey Moore tries to create a unified field theory of all of his previous works by tying together such diverse concepts from his previous books Crossing the Chasm, Inside the Tornado, and the Gorilla Game. In addition, he adds a does of valuation theory and brings in the notions of value disciplines and the culture issues from Built to Last. The book is targeted at traditional companies trying to survive in the dot-com era. It is very focused on shareholder value and how to maximize it. Like most recent books it is a little dated since it was written prior to the March '00 market correction. Nevertheless it has some valuable lessons. Perhaps the two most useful elements are that it ties together a number of business theories and makes them accessible. In particular, Moore does a good job of describing how the market views shareholder value and provides specific prescriptions for managing it and communicating the value in a company.
Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate
Reviewed July 16, 2000 by Jon. This is the latest book from Michael Schrage - MIT Media Lab research associate and business columnist. Serious Play is about prototyping and how it is used to simulate innovation. The lessons in the book are very obvious to those who have been educated as designers - but may not be so for those with a general business background. Schrage talks about how prototypes are used and how to develop a "prototyping culture". He expands beyond the design disciplines by using spreadsheets as examples for prototyping. The fundamental message is that innovation is driven by experiementing with models and prototypes. They are tools to see, understand, and communicate. Schrage maintains that intellectual analysis alone does not work - you have to build something to understand it. A good book for those who already understand prototyping. I don't know if those who have not been exposed fully to the concepts will get it.
Blown To Bits: How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy
Reviewed July 10, 2000 by Jon. This book is one of many web strategy books. It talks
about deconstruction of businesses and the way strategy is now practiced due to this
deconstruction caused by moving from an economy based on physical things to one based on
information. Many of the examples are business to consumer but the lessons apply equally
to business-to-business. A fairly light read but provocative.
This was not my favorite Crichton but read it on a transcontinental flight to vege out for a few hours.
Additions by Jon - August 2000. This book starts witn an interesting premise but bogs down in medieval history. It is difficult to follow. Pretty much candy reading and probably best done as vacation reading in one gulp.
See 1999 books
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