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Seven books that explain everything

Books about IT can seem like a quaint idea, given the speed at which
things change online. Here are seven reads that put the lie to that, with insights worth killing trees for

Globe and Mail Update

Here Comes Everybody: The power of organizing without organizations (Clay Shirky)
Between the blogs, the wikis, the videophones and flash mobs, mass participation is reshaping the social landscape. Shirky, one of the Web's most venerable voices, ties it all together in this critique of the new media's successes—and its missteps.

The Pirate's Dilemma: How youth culture is reinventing capitalism (Matt Mason)
Youth culture drives capitalism, all the more so when it harnesses technology to subvert the powers that be. But as counterculture becomes corporate, how should companies react to the rampant piracy that
youth have embraced—fight it or leverage it?

Linked: How everything is connected to everything else and what it means for business, science, and everyday life (Albert-Laszlo Barabasi)
Facebook's "social graph" of who knows whom is a hot item these days. But the same principles that underlie the Internet govern everything from human neurons to the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Dust off your memories of first-year stats. Today, graph theory rules the world.

The Big Switch: Rewiring the world, from Edison to Google (Nicholas Carr)
In the late 1800s, factory owners switched from generating their own electricity to buying it from utilities. Today, the same thing is happening with computing, with some unexpected results. The reliably dystopian Carr unravels the implications of what he calls the "World Wide Computer."

The Search: How Google and its rivals rewrote the rules of business and transformed our culture (John Battelle)
Starting with the early days of AltaVista and HotBot, The Search traces Google's rise, with special attention to the insights that transformed it from cash-bleeding startup to a globe-straddling leviathan. This 2006 effort only gets more relevant with time.

The Future of the Internet and How To Stop It (Jonathan Zittrain)
More locked content, more filtering, ever-expanding copyright laws, and ever-diminishing privacy. It's a bleak outlook. Zittrain, an Oxford professor, explores the options for preserving the Web we know for the netizens of tomorrow.

Dreaming in Code (Scott Rosenberg)
Software as drama? Like any grand undertaking, it's rife with it. This tale of the troubled attempt by Mitch Kapor (of Lotus 1-2-3 fame) to build an open-source competitor to Microsoft Outlook illustrates the challenges that are inherent to creating software.


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