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Category Archives: Books

Googled - Ken Auletta

Book: Googled

Author: Ken Auletta

140 Characters:
Googled is alarming without being alarmist; it’s a surprisingly frank history of Google that paints them as the ultimate frenemy.

140 Words:
Ken Auletta, the writer who coined the term “information super-highway,” has written a new history of Google.

Googled is surprisingly frank; it’s alarming without being alarmist, and informative without being dry.

If Google is the 800 lb avatar in the digital room, it’s best not only to know who they are, but how and why they are here. With clear and engaging language, and mining nearly countless interviews and references, Auletta paints Google as the ultimate frenemy, the girlfriend you can’t live with and can’t live without.

Auletta takes us from the creation of Google and their engineering mindset, to the wave of panic they’ve caused in traditional media companies with their belief everything digital should be free and accessible, to possible scenarios where all can co-exist.

And if for some reason you weren’t paying attention yet, well….

Haiku:
Auletta’s Googled/
Reminds us, Don’t Be Evil/
Frenemy, Google

Haiku:
Google’s history/
As ironic as it seems/
Googled is a book

Ghosts & Lightning - Trevor Byrne

Ghosts & Lightning – Trevor Byrne

140 Characters:
Ghosts & Lightning- rambling, restless and rambunctious- has struck at the jugular of the coming-of-age generation.

140 Words:
Trevor Byrne’s first novel is drug and alcohol riddled, and more character-driven than plot-driven. It’s a rambling, restless and rambunctious story about a protagonist man-child’s failed attempt to break from his Irish home, and how his mother’s death brought him (Denny) back to a family that employs interesting coping mechanisms: alcohol and drugs, seances, fist-fights, and curious business dealings.

Ireland is changing faster than Denny’s small world. And like his main character’s situation and increasing desire to move on, it’s only a matter of time before Byrne too breaks out (as a writer). Byrne has the skill to make the mundane interesting, and when the bigger story finds him, he’s going to be a monster.

Great tone, great dialogue, and void of cliches, G&L has struck at the jugular of the coming-of-age generation.

Haiku:
Take Ghosts & Lightning/
Trevor Byrne’s novel of youth/
Read with a pint of Ale

Haiku:
Things that keep you up/
Parties, fights, ghosts and lightning/
Loves of Trevor Byrne

Ignore Everybody - Hugh MacLeod

Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys To Creativity
by Hugh MacLeod

140 Characters:
Hugh MacLeod’s Ignore Everybody inspires creative types to carry on believing and producing, even if the book seems short.

140 Words:
It’s difficult to find fault in a guy who is out there to inspire creative types to carry on believing and producing.

Hugh MacLeod’s wildly successful GapingVoid.com and business card art has led to the creation of his book, Ignore Everybody, which is here to do just that- inspire.

But my criticism is less about his intention or talent; it’s that this makes a better coffee table book than traditional hardcover. Maybe a calendar.

Each of his recommendations are succinct, perfectly tweetable, and useful. But collected as a Top 40, it doesn’t seem like enough, and ironically gets repetitious.

The cartoons aren’t half-bad (and I like his website and blog, too), but this review is about how his ideas and art scale up to book form, and that’s where “Ignore” falls short.

Hugh, make another…I’ll buy it.

Haiku:
Hugh MacLeod proclaims/
Ignore everybody/
And find your own voice

Twitterville - Shel Israel

Twitterville: by Shel Israel

140 Characters:
Twitterville, when relating the history of Twitter, is interesting. After that, I refuse to say the word Twitterville ever again.

140 Words:
The history of Twitter is an interesting story, but only makes up a fraction of the book. Instead Israel chooses to spend his time proving to us that Twitter is the future of all community, coming just short of the book earning infomercial status.

He spends much effort providing anecdotes of businesses who have thrived using this newish technology and others who have suffered the peril of ignoring it.

Israel has many useful things to say, but uses 287 pages to say what he could have said in 28 pages. Maybe restricting himself to 140 characters for so long finally got to him and he exploded in verbosity. Plus, he really wants the “Twitterville” moniker he coined to stick- he uses it dozens of times. I still call it Twitter.

For a newbie, I suppose Twitterville is useful.

Haiku:
Shel Israel’s book/
Twitterville, is much longer/
than one of his tweets

Ten Story Love Song - Richard Milward

Ten Story Love Song
by Richard Milward

140 characters:
Ten Story Love Song, Richard Milward’s novel, is one paragraph of drunken debauchery and artistic soul searching.

140 words:
Ten Story Love Song, Richard Milward’s new novel, is one paragraph. The story begins on the cover without indentation and ends with a cutoff sentence, so grammatically, it’s not even really a paragraph.

That last fragment, I get. It’s secondary character’s last thought, but why the stream-of-consciousness punctuation everywhere else? Maybe if it were from one protagonist’s perspective it would come off better, like Jack Kerouac. And there are passages where Milward’s SOC works well, say, describing a bad acid trip.

I did enjoy the transitional devices- jumping from one character’s head to the pizza guy knocking on his door, then riding along with him as he moves on to the correct door, where we enter that tenant’s head.

It’s a young book from a young author. I look forward to reading his work as he matures.

Haiku:
Ten Story Love Song/
Richard Milward’s new novel/
is one paragraph

Haiku:
Irvine Welsh feels it/
Richard Milward is knocking/
as he finds his voice

Tribes - Seth Godin

Review of Tribes

by Seth Godin

140 Characters:

Ironically, Seth Godin wants you to follow him in not following anyone else. Just buy the book first.

140 Words:

Seth Godin needs you to lead us. He writes in short declarative sentences, in Powerpoint, if you will. He gets to the point. His point is: do your thing and be accessible, then people will follow. And don’t worry about pissing people off.

“Heretics are the new leaders,” he says.

Furthermore, you must ask yourself, “How can I create something that critics will criticize?”

With Tribes, he just did; with this review, have I? I feel the pain.

“Being charismatic doesn’t make you a leader. Being a leader makes you charismatic.”

I believe our last two presidents are in stark contrast with each other along this continuum. Are you feeling Godin’s allure, yet?

“And in the end, cynicism is a lousy strategy.”

Amen. (But what about light-hearted sarcasm?)

Haiku:

Seth Godin, leader

and author of the book Tribes

writes in Powerpoint


The Drunkard's Walk - Leonard Mlodinow

The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives

by Leonard Mlodinow

140 characters:

Reiterating that events occur by chance not pattern, Mlodinow shows whether he’s a good writer or not is a moot point.

140 Words:

By reiterating that random events are (still) more likely to occur by chance than by pattern, Mlodinow shows that whether he is a good writer or not is a moot point. By his own accord an author penning a great book does little to help predict whether the follow-up will be good as well. Basically, with a tendency of events regressing toward the mean, any extraordinary event is likely to be followed by one far more ordinary. And without an inhuman number of sequences needed to determine the mean, the future is far too unpredictable. This goes for CEO’s, baseball players, stock brokers, and, well, writers. I.e., if you like this review, it’s just as likely to be followed by one you don’t.

A haiku about Leonard Mlodinow:

He wasn’t the first/

to write about randomness/

nor is he  a fish