The following is a list of noteworthy things I read in 2012. Since I’m working on an Info Science degree, most of these are information and computer science related.
- The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick
This book is so good, I closely read it again this year and used many of the ideas and people in the book as a jumping off point for other reading.
- I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter
I tried my best to read Godel, Escher, Bach a few years back, which introduced me to so many exciting and perplexing ideas. Likewise, I Am a Strange Loop covers too wide an array topic and profound insights to summarize. The true feat of this book, is to explain the way that consciousness and self-reference feel in our everyday lives. There are many ah-ha moments in this book and even passages that may make you cry.
- The Signal and The Noise by Nate Silver
Getting into the data science of polls was a surprisingly refreshing way to reduce my day-to-day anxiety in advance of the presidential election.
- Information: The New Language of Science by Hans Christian Von Baeyer
Like Charles Seife and James Gleick, Von Baeyer goes into the history of information theory, but is more concerned with the implications of info theory for modern science, such as genetics and physics. You might say that bits (the smallest unit of data) are the atoms of the 21st century.
- Reinventing the Automobile
This book is a great summary of technologies (mobile networking, smart grids, the electric car) that are converging to revolutionize automobiles and thereby urban life.
- The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman
A classic. I gave it a critical read in a Human Computer Interaction design class during the winter.
- The Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
I re-read parts of this fantastic cultural and economic history of debt.
- Facts are Sacred: The Power of Data by Simon Rogers
A short book about data journalism from the Guardian U.K.
- Interface Culture by Steven Johnson
Just about everything in our daily lives has an interface, not just computing devices.
I didn’t have time for these—and so many other books, but I hope to get to some of them in the new year:
- The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation
- Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe
- We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency.
- Jill Lepore on Trayvon Martin and Guns in U.S.
- Contrast blog on The Language of Interfaces
- Bradley Voytek on Automated science, deep data and the paradox of information
- Novelist Tim Parks on Finishing Books
- James Surowiecki’s Brief History on Money (A great companion to The Debt above.)
- John Dickerson on How Obama Won
- Sean Gallagher on How the Obama Tech Team Left Romney in the Dust
- Mark Singer on The Marathon Fraud, Kip Linton
- Jack Shafer on Jonah Lehrer’s Recycling Business
- Bianca Bosker on how Sebastian Thrun Wants to Change the World
- Klint Finley on The Rise and Fall of the Cisco Empire