Tag Archive: Books

Book Report: Source

Here is a summary of May’s reading fare, the second course of my literary feast on collaboration…

Crowdsourcing by Jeff Howe – There is a substantial opportunity to apply the principles of Open Source software production to other businesses. You can leverage the crowd—now more than 1+ Billion strong—to produce, edit, filter, select and even fund portions of your business. Excellent read.

Wikinomics by Don Tapscott & Anthony Williams – A call to action to embrace a model of mass collaboration and openness fostered by the Internet and supporting technologies. Abundant examples across a variety of industries and applications demonstrate the power of such an approach, although the authors confuse matters by repeatedly attempting to coin new terminology and jargon (e.g., “ideagoras” and “New Alexandrians”).

The Culture of Collaboration by Evan Rosen – Businesses need to collaborate. There are lots of benefits. It has worked for lots of companies. Here are some tools (mostly technology) you can use. Blah,blah, blah. When reading I usually dog ear pages that include great examples, profound insight or well written sections; this book yielded only four.

More comments on how this relates to 2MinuteGenius in a later post. Stay tuned.

Book Report: Gather

Here is a synopsis on April’s page turners, the first course of my literary feast on collaboration…

Group Genius by Keith Sawyer – Breakthrough innovation is often derived from collaboration. Group flow (aka “in the zone”) occurs when individual skills are comparable, the goal is clear, there is a commitment to listening and communication, and full concentration is enabled.

Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky – Technology now enables group action in a way that was previously possible only via institutions (government, religion, business, etc.). With transaction costs for many tasks now equal to zero, collaboration without managerial oversight is not only possible, but ultimately more successful. And if you do fail, you fail fast (which is a good thing).

The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki – For some problems it is better to use the collective sagacity of a group than it is to rely on a single expert. The key is to ensure the crowd is diverse, that opinions are formed individually, and some means exists to aggregate views into a collective decision.

I’ll provide more thoughts on how to apply and incorporate this knowledge into 2MinuteGenius in a later post.

A few brief notes on three books consumed during March…

The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs – We are living in an ever-expanding ocean of knowledge that we will never be able to fully explore. Nonetheless, everyone should jump in and swim around as much as possible; it is one of the many adventures life offers. One man went to extremes and read all 33,000 pages of the 2002 Encyclopaedia Britannica. This is his story.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – Conventional wisdom is that sustained success is the product of talent plus hard work.  Gladwell adds two more variables to the equation: opportunity and legacy. Bad news: three of the four are entirely beyond your control. Good news: you can still be successful.

The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner –  Eat in moderation; heavy on fruits, veggies and nuts while avoiding meat. Make physical activity part of your lifestyle; consistent but not strenuous. Live with purpose; it doesn’t have to be world changing, just meaningful to you. Surround yourself with a support network; relieve stress, anger and anxiety constructively.

Book Report: Change

Here are some quick thoughts on the three books consumed during the month of February…

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable by Seth Godin – If you choose, an opportunity exists (now more than ever) to leverage your work to create art—”the intentional act of using your humanity to create a change in another person.” It is not easy, there is no map and there is no guarantee you will accomplish what you set out to do. But you will be rewarded. So push past the fear and start shipping gifts to the world around you.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath – The Heath boys offer their version of Change 101: Give clear direction to your logic and focus on what works; appeal to your emotion with small steps and a sense of identity; ensure your surroundings encourage desired behavior and develop habits.

Anticancer: A New Way Of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD – Cancer is not hereditary but we all have it.  Our diet, environment, mental health and exercise regimen largely determine whether it develops beyond the control of our immune system. Bad news: the affluent Western lifestyle we enjoy today fosters cancer growth.  Good news: we can change.

The Next Big Book

As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe.  It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes.

–Denis Diderot, “Encyclopédie” (1755)

Books are really an archaic form of information distribution when you consider:

  • The average non-fiction book is 300 pages in length.
  • Most publishers utilize 11 point Palatino font, which yields about 300 words to a page.
  • The average human can read roughly 300 words per minute.

This means the typical reader requires roughly 5 hours to digest a non-fiction book cover to cover. That’s a considerable investment given the numerous competing interests and limited discretionary time we afford ourselves.  One would think the advent of new technologies—radio, film, video and the Internet—that have enabled faster, more efficient means of information transmission would have killed the medium.  But the book has not only survived, it has thrived, with the amount of information provided via books growing exponentially:

  • In 2007, U.S. publishers released 276,649 new titles, a 34 percent increase from 2005.
  • On-demand publishers released an additional 134,773 titles; an increase of 39 percent over prior year.

However I believe change is coming, as Adam Penenberg asserted in a December 2009 Fast Company article:

Instead of stagnant words on a page we will layer video throughout the text, add photos, hyperlink material, engage social networks of readers who will add their own videos, photos, and wikified information so that these multimedia books become living, breathing, works of art.

So what is holding up this revolution? It’s not technology. Nor is it cost efficiencies. And it’s certainly not a lack of content.

It’s collaboration.

The multitude of disciplines required to create the integrated, single interface experience that Penenberg describes is beyond the capacity of an individual author. To produce such a work requires the collective talents of many individuals, the type of a coordinated effort that currently takes place in film and television production.

The conditions are ripe for a well-known, best-selling non-fiction author to step up and produce something extraordinary with their next book.  To stand out not only for the content but for the way it is delivered.  To blaze a trail and raise the bar for an immersive reading experience. But it will require an unprecedented level of collaboration with others (illustrators, musicians, motion graphic artists, photographers, video editors, etc.) and a willingness to share the credit, recognition and rewards.

I propose to do something similar with 2MinuteGenius.com.  And while I am not well-known or best-selling, I am willing to give all the credit to those who decide to collaborate with me. Time will tell if that is enough.

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