Three books for recommended reading

I’m not a great reader of business books even though there are some 20 such volumes sitting on my office bookshelf, all read and mostly not remembered.

Recently, though, there has been a slew of excellent and compelling business writing that is very much to do with a broad area in which I have a strong and keen interest – things that are disruptive, whether it’s technology or behaviours, and the effects on people and organizations.

So here are three books that I’m in the midst of reading, all of which are provoking an awful lot of thought:

flatearthnews Flat Earth News by Nick Davies. (Published in the UK February 2008. ISBN: 978-0-701-18145-1)

I’ve just finished reading this investigative account of what’s going on in the mainstream media, the demise of real journalism and the rise of churnalism.

With the cover text proclaiming it “exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media,” this book is certainly an eye opener.

If only ten percent of what Davies writes about is true, you’ll never trust the media (especially the Daily Mail in the UK: nearly 40 pages about that newspaper alone) or the PR profession again. Ever.

I’ll be reviewing this book for an FIR Book Review podcast within the next few weeks. Meanwhile, take a look at any of the reviews already published.

regrettheerror Regret The Error by Craig Silverman. (Published in the UK January 2008. ISBN: 978-1-4027-5153-0)

Halfway through this excellent chronicle of errors and subsequent corrections (but not always) made by the mainstream media.

It’s all in the broad context of the history of newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic, and what media errors and how they’re treated say about society in general.

Silverman’s book asks some interesting questions about lapses in ethics and the decline of fact-checking by journalists and editors – and fact-checking is a point often and haughtily reinforced by some in the mainstream media when pointing fingers at bloggers (who, they say, don’t check facts).

See some reviews.

The book sprung from Regret The Error, the blog of the same name that’s long been in my RSS reader.

My podcasting partner Shel Holtz and I will be interviewing author Craig Silverman in mid May for an FIR Interview podcast.

futureinternet The Future of The Internet and How To Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain. (Published in the UK May 2008. ISBN: 978-1-8461-4014-3)

I ordered this book from last week, not expecting it to arrive until early May – but it arrived this morning.

What’s the book about? Well, Zittrain’s core argument is that the internet is on a path to meltdown because of its own success in becoming ubiquitous, what’s coming next and what we need to do:

[…] With the unwitting help of its users, the generative Internet is on a path to a lockdown, ending its cycle of innovation – and facilitating unsettling new kinds of control.

[…] The Internet’s current trajectory is one of lost opportunity. Its salvation, Zittrain argues, lies in the hands of its millions of users.

So far, I’ve read only the five-page introduction and taken a quick scan of the overall content.

And I can’t wait to get stuck into reading it.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Dave Briggs

    Flat Earth News is great – there is a fascinating debate going on in various places about the future of networked journalism and this is a key text.

    I’ve been putting together a dead tree web 2.0 reading list with other great titles – will add the Zittrain, which look good.

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