post Category: Articles post Comments (9) postOctober 21, 2010

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Evolution of the Storage Brain takes an interesting walk through the history of data storage technologies over the past 30 years. Written in an entertaining, conversational style, this book provides deep understanding of technologies that shaped the data storage world that we live in today.

The author recounts his 1st-person experience as transformative events occurred during this time period. Technologies that showed great promise but were ultimately discarded are also described in detail. Delving into the physical and logical aspects of the storage brain, the author dissects the following topics:

Disk Drive Evolution
Disk Failure Protection
Data Failure Protection
Storage Controllers
Storage Memory
Storage Communications
Storage Efficiency
Storage Virtualization

Once the authors assertions are made, history is used as a mechanism to predict the future of data storage technology over the next 10, 20, and 30 years. This book is a must-read for anyone working in, or considering working in, the data storage industry, or anyone interested in learning how data storage technology has evolved.

Customer Reviews

Excellent Historical, Current and Future Prospectives on Data Storage!, August 20, 2010
By RH
If you want to understand the historical, current and future prospectives on data storage read this book.

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The propulsive, shockingly plausible sequel to New York Times bestseller Daemon, the Greatest. Techno-thriller. Period.*
*William O’Brien, former director of cybersecurity and communications systems policy at the White House

2009 saw one of the most inventive techno-thriller debuts in decades as Daniel Suarez introduced his terrifying and tantalizing vision of a new world order. Daemon captured the attention of the tech community, became a national bestseller, garnered attention from futurists, literary critics, and the halls of government-leaving readers clamoring for the conclusion to Suarez’s epic story.

In the opening chapters of Freedom(tm), the Daemon is well on its way toward firm control of the modern world, using an expanded network of real-world, dispossessed darknet operatives to tear apart civilization and rebuild it anew. Civil war breaks out in the American Midwest, with the mainstream media stoking public fear in the face of this ‘Corn Rebellion’. Former detective Pete Sebeck, now the Daemon’s most famous and most reluctant operative, must lead a small band of enlightened humans in a populist movement designed to protect the new world order.

But the private armies of global business are preparing to crush the Daemon once and for all. In a world of conflicted loyalties, rapidly diminishing government control, and a new choice between free will and the continuing comforts of ignorance, the stakes could not be higher: hanging in the balance is nothing less than democracy’s last hope to survive the technology revolution.

Customer Reviews

Daemon taken over by techno-utopianism, October 7, 2010
By Ian Kaplan
I bought Daemon back when it was published under Daniel Suarez’s pseudonym. I thought that Daemon was an interesting book, with interesting ideas. Reading his books and listening to a lecture he gave, I would say that Suarez does not fully understand how difficult it is to create robust software that does not fail when it is presented with unexpected inputs. But this is, after all, fiction and we can suspend disbelief.

I enjoyed Freedom, but I found that the book smacked of techno-utopianism. This is the belief that the worlds problems and be solved by the application of technology, leading to a utopia. Another theme was that the ends justify the means. Both these views have been shown, historically, to yield pretty horrible results. These themes and the ultimate resolution of the plot really weakened Freedom for me.

Freedom – A book of propaganda, September 21, 2010
By Roark Dority
I tried reading this book several times but was unfortunately disappointed each time.

The propaganda it tries to push is subtle at first but over time becomes blatant. I have to agree with the folks that are saying this is New World Order propaganda from the 13 most powerful families in the world, those that head up the Committee of 300. These folks are hell bent on destroying freedom in America (can you tell, based on what’s transpired so far?). The Rockefellers, the Rothschilds. Heard of them? There are 13 of these powerful families and their agenda has always been to back both sides financially in wars. They are the ones who had us building up our nuclear arsenal against the Russians (the Cold War)! Now you can see what they’ve done to Russia, the former Soviet Union and now America!!

Don’t believe the author when he tries to make freedom out to be a form of tyranny or worse, the reverse!

For those who are going to buy this because it got Oprah’s thumbs up, I say, think for yourself! I don’t recommend this book and in fact I’d like to say, be warned! Don’t buy into the propaganda.

Remember things aren’t always as they appear to be.

Look at the war in Iraq. Based on fabrications and lies.

Now, Iran may be next. Based on similar fabrications and lies.

The goal for the Committee of 300 is to have Israel and Iran destroy each other, thereby nearly destroying the world. Why would the Committee of 300 want this? Because they can come forward with their One World Government, One World Religion. Where you have no rights at all, not even the right to live!

C’mon people. You know what freedom is. It’s freedom from this tyranny that is building all around us. And it wouldn’t be happening without our consent.

Don’t be fooled by the propaganda!

Thought provoking, worth a read…, September 16, 2010
By Matthew Guerreiro
I liked it a lot. A strong continuation to the story he developed in his first novel, Daemon.

Well Worth The Read, September 10, 2010
By K. Bender
Great sequel to “Daemon”, Suarez’ ground-breaking thriller! With his intimate knowledge of computer science, Suarez continues to demonstrate how software has insinuated itself into the control of every aspect of modern life. The action is fast-paced and doesn’t disappoint as Loki and the Major continue to match wits, with mayhem as the principle byproduct. I did feel the ending was somewhat foreshortened as Suarez appeared to be in a rush to tie up all the loose ends and come to a conclusion. But, all in all, “Freedom” is a very thought-provoking and entertaining novel.

Good and Evil on both sides of the battle, September 9, 2010
By Diane McClure
Good and evil exist on both sides of the battle for human evolution and survival. Thinking of Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond and development of new weapons that determine the course of human history, Daemon is the next weapon in that evolution. Suarez develops characters with who are BAD on both sides of the fight for control of planet Earth while most people have no idea what is happening around them. In order to overcome it will “take a village” or rather a global collective effort of human minds to recreate a new global economy and Democracy. Daniel Suarez gives me hope in human kind and in the power of the human collaboration.

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What people are saying about Confessions of a Public SpeakerMr. Berkun’s book is packed with tips on how to reduce anxiety and how to speak in public with greater effectiveness.–Wall Street Journal review: Phillip Delves Broughton, author of Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School (Penguin Press)I’ve seen Scott speak a few times before, and he knows his stuff. Add to this his sense of humor, plus the fact that pretty much everyone can stand to learn some new ideas about speaking, and this book is a MUST for your collection.–Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs, and co-author of the book, Trust Agents, with Julien Smith (Wiley)For those that are contemplating public speaking, or want to improve their current aptitude, it is impossible that after reading the book, that they won’t be a better speaker. For those that simply want to know what goes into, and what makes a really good presentation, Confessions of a Public Speaker is also a worthwhile book to read.–Slashdot review: Ben Rothke is the author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know (McGraw-Hill)Scott Berkun tells it like it is. Whether you’re speaking to 10 people or 1000 people, you will gain insights to take your presentation skills to the next level. It’s a rare book that will make you think AND laugh.–Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.comSmart, funny, and provocative, Scott Berkun’s Confessions puts an very modern and wholly relevant spin on the fine art of public speaking.–Suzy Welch, bestselling author and public speakerA fresh, fun, memorable take on the most critical thing: what we say. Highly recommended.–Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief, WiredLoved it! Anyone who speaks for a living — including teachers — will greatly benefit from this book.–Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen (New Riders)…at 7:48 a.m. on a Tuesday, I am showered, cleaned, shaved, pruned, fed, and deodorized, wearing a pressed shirt and shiny shoes, in a cab on my way to the San Francisco waterfront I’m far from home, going to an unfamiliar place, and performing for strangers, three stressful facts that mean anything can happen…In this hilarious and highly practical book, author and professional speaker Scott Berkun reveals the techniques behind what great communicators do, and shows how anyone can learn to use them well. For managers and teachers — and anyone else who talks and expects someone to listen — Confessions of a Public Speaker provides an insider’s perspective on how to effectively present ideas to anyone. It’s a unique, entertaining, and instructional romp through the embarrassments and triumphs Scott has experienced over 15 years of speaking to crowds of all sizes.With lively lessons and surprising confessions, you’ll get new insights into the art of persuasion — as well as teaching, learning, and performance — directly from a master of the trade.Highlights include:Berkun’s hard-won and simple philosophy, culled from years of lectures, teaching courses, and hours of appearances on NPR, MSNBC, and CNBCPractical advice, including how to work a tough room, the science of not boring people, how to survive the attack of the butterflies, and what to do when things go wrongThe inside scoop on who earns $30,000 for a one-hour lecture and whyThe worst-and funniest-disaster stories you’ve ever heard (plus countermoves you can use)Filled with humorous and illuminating stories of thrilling performances and real-life disasters, Confessions of a Public Speaker is inspirational, devastatingly honest, and a blast to read.

Customer Reviews

Useful even for an intermediate to advanced speaker, October 1, 2010
By California Dreamin
I spent two years actively participating in a very strong Toastmasters chapter and speak about 70 days each year. I was not sure this book would have much to offer me. It does. I’ve dog eared about a dozen pages with content I intend to work on. The footnotes and ranked bliography are particularly useful.

Probably the best book on presenting out there, September 29, 2010
By David W. Gray
I present professionally all the time, and I’ve read just about every book on presenting there is. This is probably the best one I’ve ever seen. I’ve recommended it to every speaker I know, and just about every one of them had already read it, or were reading it. Professional presenters I’ve spoken with have all said pretty much the same thing — it’s one of the best books they’ve seen on the subject. Berkun’s style is simple and clear and he reveals everything, even his speaking fees. Don’t miss this book if you ever intend to speak in public.

I have to confess that I liked this book a lot, September 1, 2010
By J. F. Malcolm
As someone who has been speaking and training speakers for 20 years, I didn’t expect to learn much from this book, but I read it because an equally experienced friend recommended it.

I have to confess I was wrong. Berkun grabbed my interest right away with Chapter 1: “I can’t see you naked” in which he demolishes that old bit of speaking advice and reassures the reader that you don’t need to be perfect to be successful.

In Chapters 5 and 6 he grabbed my respect when he stressed what I consider to be the two most important principles of successful speaking: clear thinking and practice. While these may be obvious, as Berkun says: “…old ideas said well have surprising power in a world where everyone obsesses about what’s new.” Here are some of the old ideas said well:

“All good public speaking is based on good private thinking.”

“The more effort you put into the clarity of your points, the easier everything else about public speaking becomes.”

“If you’re too lazy to practice, expect your audience to be too lazy to follow.”

“No matter how much you hate or love this book, you’re unlikely to be a good public speaker.” (This is not the kind of point that you will see printed on the cover, but Berkun is absolutely honest and absolutely right. those reviewers who say you will become instantly better by reading this book ignore the fact that the only way to make that happen is to adapt these techniques to your own style, practice hard, and occasionally fail when trying something new.)

As you can see from that last point, this book pulls no punches, and that’s what makes it a good read. In addition to these big ideas, there are also many useful tips for speaking in tough rooms, what to do when things go wrong, dealing with nerves, etc.

Keep in mind that Confessions focuses on public speaking, as opposed to internal presentations. There is a lot of good sense that will help you in any speaking situation, but you won’t find much about organizing your points for persuasive intent or about preparing for Q&A. What you will find is an entertaining and useful book.

Thank God I found this book, August 31, 2010
By N. Long
I have read so many books about public speaking my eyes were crossed- and then I found this one. This fabulously funny man says it like it is and pulls no punches. I read this book on an airplane and was attracting a lot of attention because I couldn’t stop laughing. Refreshing, candid, and full of absolute pearls. This author is a genius.

Read it read it read it.

Fun and informative, August 31, 2010
By M. Fey
A great set of observations from someone who makes their living doing what many people dread. If you do any amount of public speaking I highly recommend this book. At its core it is a manual on how to be a great public speaker, but these lessons are wrapped in such a friendly, conversational story that you never once feel like you are reading a manual.

It’s been particularly self-affirming to read his suggestions of things that I already do when speaking in front of a group in addition to getting some great tips.

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Currently, computer users must navigate a sea of guidebooks, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and wizards to perform a task such as searching the Web or creating a spreadsheet. While Donald Norman acknowledges that the personal computer allows for flexibility and power, he also makes its limitations perfectly clear. The personal computer is perhaps the most frustrating technology ever, he writes. It should be quiet, invisible, unobtrusive. His vision is that of the information appliance, digital tools created to answer our specific needs, yet interconnected to allow communication between devices.

His solution? Design the tool to fit so well that the tool becomes a part of the task. He proposes using the PC as the infrastructure for devices hidden in walls, in car dashboards, and held in the palm of the hand. A word of caution: some of Norman’s zealotry leads to a certain creepiness (global positioning body implants) and goofiness (electric-power-generating plants in shoes). His message, though, is reasonably situated in the concept that the tools should bend to fit us and our goals: we sit down to write, not to word process; to balance bank accounts, not to fill in cells on a spreadsheet. In evenly measuring out the future of humanity’s technological needs–and the limitations of the PC’s current incarnation–Norman presents a formidable argument for a renaissance of the information appliance. –Jennifer Buckendorff

Customer Reviews

Can’t believe this got past the editor. Can’t believe this got past the editor!, May 31, 2009
By Zen Ho Yan Chan
I only at chapter 2, but I need to rant. I’ll update this review when/if I finish the book. I can’t believe they allowed this to be published, the writing is horrible. Chapter 2 could be done in 5 pages, but Norman goes on and on REPEATING the same ideas and sentences. Every 2 pages he goes through the exact same points again, many keywords are reused. It’s just a pain to read.

I haven’t finished reading this book but I needed to take time out to rant. Maybe I’ll update this review when I finish reading…this review is longer than it needs to be…due to repetitions…just like this book.

All CIO should change the plicy for the PC., February 25, 2008
By Kaizen
All CIO should change the policy fot the PC.

Many people waste many time to manage the complexed PC.

If there is a simple computer, we can make happy.

It is sad taha there is no simple computer.

ps.

“Being analog” is a title of section 7, and a part of Japanese version title of this book.

If we can do analog, we will be happy.

The Case for Information Appliances, September 17, 2004
By ACee, a doctoral student
The content strives to support the design of information appliances due to the complexity of the computer coupled with creeping featurism. Human centered design must be used to overcome the increasing complexity.

Chapters 7 (Being Analog) and 8 (Why is Everything So Difficult to Use) are reminiscent of Things that Make Us Smart and The Design of Everyday Things also by Norman.

Chapters 9 and 10 focus on human centered development by defining it as a process and then describing ‘immutable principles’ that should apply. Six disciplines of user experience are identified.

As I progressed through the book, I had to continually return to the cover and back pages, rereading the title and description to remind myself of what the book is about. Read the two referenced books first!

Save your money, April 4, 2002
By
Short and sweet: Don’t waste your money on even a used version of this book. If you want to buy a book see some of the recommendations made by other reviewers. Get something for your money.

Not his best work, April 2, 2002
By B. Scott Andersen
I’m a fan of Donald Norman’s work so when I finally had a
chance to pick up “The Invisible Computer” I had high hopes.
Unfortunately, this work didn’t provide the same insight and
focus as his previous books such as “The Design of Everyday
Things”.

Throughout the work Norman draws upon “Crossing the Chasm”
and “Inside the Tornado: Marketing Strategies from Silicon
Valley’s Cutting Edge” [both by Geoffrey Moore]. Also
heavily emphasized are the ideas put forth by “The

Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms
to Fail.” All of these books are interesting–but I wanted
something from Norman himself.

Chapter 7, “Being Analog”, was more in line with what I had
come to expect from Norman. He ends this chapter with this:
“Alas, most of today’s machines, especially the computer,
force people to use them on their own terms, terms that are
antithetical to the way people work and think. The result is
frustration, an increase in the rate of error (usually
blamed on the user–human error–instead of on faulty
design), and a general turning away from technology. Will
the interaction between people and machines be done
correctly in the future? Might schools of computer science
start teaching the human-centered approach that is necessary
to reverse the trend? I don’t see why not.” That’s what I’m
looking for! If only the rest of the book had followed that
passion.

Instead focusing on human factors and man-machine

interface issues, Norman wanders discussing substitutable
goods vs. nonsubstitutable goods, a rehash of why software
is hard to write (and the mythical man month), and even some
embarrassing admissions now that he’d spent some time outside
academia and worked a bit in industry: “Time, or rather the
lack of it, I was starting to learn, is one of the greatest
barriers to quality”. As my young nieces would say to me,
“duh!”

Finally, although written in the late 1990’s with the

paperback edition published in 1998, I found the text to
already be a bit dated. You don’t realize how quickly the
computer industry moves until you find a book frozen in time
like this one.

My recommendation is to read Norman’s other works and the
works he recommends here (Crossing the Chasm, Inside the
Tornado, and Innovator’s Dilemma). Finally, I recommend
“Machine Beauty” by David Gelernter. It provides more
passion and keener insights than this work–and is generally
more fun to read!

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It may be foolish to consider Eric Raymond’s recent collection of essays, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, the most important computer programming thinking to follow the Internet revolution. But it would be more unfortunate to overlook the implications and long-term benefits of his fastidious description of open-source software development considering the growing dependence businesses and economies have on emerging computer technologies.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar takes its title from an essay Raymond read at the 1997 Linux Kongress. The essay documents Raymond’s acquisition, re-creation, and numerous revisions of an e-mail utility known as fetchmail. Raymond engagingly narrates the fetchmail development process while elaborating on the ongoing bazaar development method he uses with the help of volunteer programmers. The essay smartly spares the reader from the technical morass that could easily detract from the text’s goal of demonstrating the efficacy of the open-source, or bazaar, method in creating robust, usable software.

Once Raymond has established the components and players necessary for an optimally running open-source model, he sets out to counter the conventional wisdom of private, closed-source software development. Like superbly written code, the author’s arguments systematically anticipate their rebuttals. For programmers who worry that the transition to open source will abolish or devalue their jobs, Raymond adeptly and factually counters that most developer’s salaries don’t depend on software sale value. Raymond’s uncanny ability to convince is as unrestrained as his capacity for extrapolating upon the promise of open-source development.

In addition to outlining the open-source methodology and its benefits, Raymond also sets out to salvage the hacker moniker from the nefarious connotations typically associated with it in his essay, A Brief History of Hackerdom (not surprisingly, he is also the compiler of The New Hacker’s Dictionary). Recasting hackerdom in a more positive light may be a heroic undertaking in itself, but considering the Herculean efforts and perfectionist motivations of Raymond and his fellow open-source developers, that light will shine brightly. –Ryan Kuykendall

Customer Reviews

A must read title for any serious IS professional, March 26, 2010
By Robert H. Dedomenico
The Cathedral and the Bazaar has enlightened me to the motivations behind the performance of the most outstanding in information related fields. I am glad I found it, and highly recommend it for anybody involved in information systems design and usage plan decision making.

Lessons for Technology Beyond Open Source, March 1, 2010
By K. Scott Proctor
Eric S. Raymond offers readers a set of essays and thoughts on technology in “The Cathedral & the Bazaar.” Bound to be a classic of technology writing and thinking, this compendium effectively bridges the gap between a technical subject matter and mainstream business thinking.

Raymond covers topics ranging from the inner workings of an open source application development effort to the economics of open versus closed source software. Some of the writing (and thinking) here is quite advanced and complex — Raymond pulls no punches nor oversimplifies a complex set of topics.

By way of example, Raymond notes, “…the [open-source] culture’s adaptation to its circumstances manifests both as conscious ideology and as implicit, unconscious or semi-conscious knowledge.” I highlight this point so that the reader has some sense of what to expect with this publication — the book is thought-provoking and requires significant thinking and attention — a sign of a good book, in my opinion.

For a thorough, intelligent, and broadly interesting treatise on open-source software and general technology principles, this is an excellent book. I highly recommend this book.

brilliant but kind of sloppy, August 15, 2008
By Evan Murphy
To the author’s credit, the book overall is provocative, very interesting, and somewhat compelling. Raymond makes arguments throughout about the benefits of open source over closed for the software industry. What’s impressive about these arguments is how many of them are made independent of any open source ideology; instead he draws from political theory, economics, and game theory to illustrate how open source is actually in many cases the rational choice for a self-interested entity, and consequently inevitable (in his opinion). Raymond also paints a colorful picture of hacker culture that conveys the group’s fascinating dynamic, while enough of his own character and achievements are revealed to suggest why he’s so qualified to be speaking: his title essay is widely credited as a primary inspiration for the transformation of Netscape Navigator into Mozilla Firefox; he helped charter the Mozilla Public License; in “Revenge of the Hackers”, he admits (without much modesty) that “by late 1993, many people (including myself) had come to think of me as the hacker culture’s tribal historian and resident ethnographer”; etc.

But the book has weaknesses as well. Raymond frequently comes off as abrasively egotistical, and it’s disconcerting how many typos you can find. Moreover, his system of endnotes is misnumbered in some places and completely confounding in others; I still don’t understand it fully, though I’ve made corrections to some of the numbering mistakes and will be happy to pass them on. In addition, all of the examples he cites are dated by at least eight years, even in this revised text (though that’s not to say they aren’t still instructive). He keeps the most updated version of the text on his website at […], where many of these criticisms may be addressed; I haven’t checked.

Simply a Great Book, July 22, 2008
By Penguin Powered
I could not put this book down. In a nutshell: it’s is about software and development models. Don’t yawn just yet – this book definitely held onto my attention throughout. Eric Raymond has a great way of introducing the subject matter as he shares his first-hand experiences as a free software developer.

If you ever tried or thought about writing software, especially free (as in speech) software, you’ve probably heard of this book. A must-read.

A Collection of Essays on Open Source, April 6, 2008
By Maxim Masiutin
The Cathedral and the Bazaar is a collection of essays originally meant for programmers and technical managers, written by Eric S. Raymond on software engineering methods, based on his observations of the Linux kernel development process and his experiences managing an open source project, fetchmail.

I you like a deeper work on Linux development, I can recommend the book “Rebel Code” by Glyn Moody.

fetchmail, is an open-source software utility to retrieve e-mail from a remote mail server. It was developed by Eric S. Raymond from the popclient program, written by Carl Harris. Its chief significance is perhaps that its author, Eric S. Raymond, used it as a model to discuss his theories of open source software development in this book. Some programmers, including Dan Bernstein, getmail creator Charles Cazabon and FreeBSD developer Terry Lambert, have criticized fetchmail’s design], its number of security holes, and that it was prematurely put into “maintenance mode”. In 2004, a new team of maintainers took over fetchmail development, and laid out development plans that in some cases broke with design decisions that Eric Raymond had made in earlier versions.

The essays in the book describe open-source software, the process of systematically harnessing open develplment and decentralized peer review to lower costs and improve software quality. contrasts two different free software development models:

– The Cathedral model, in which source code is available with each software release, but code developed between releases is restricted to an exclusive group of software developers. GNU Emacs and GCC are presented as examples.

– The Bazaar model, in which the code is developed over the Internet in view of the public. Raymond credits Linus Torvalds, leader of the Linux kernel project, as the inventor of this process. Raymond also provides anecdotal accounts of his own implementation of this model for the fetchmail project.

The essay’s central thesis is Raymond’s proposition that “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow” (which he terms Linus’ law): the more widely available the source code is for public testing, scrutiny, and experimentation, the more rapidly all forms of bugs will be discovered. In contrast, Raymond claims that an inordinate amount of time and energy must be spent hunting for bugs in the Cathedral model, since the working version of the code is available only to a few developers.

When O’Reilly Media published the book in 1999, it achieved another distinction by being the first complete and commercially distributed book published under the Open Publication License.

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Find out how social media communications is changing the content provider industry in Content Nation: Surviving and Thriving as Social Media Technology Changes Our Lives and Our Future. Developed through a collaborative wiki, this book is a collection of information from social media experts and serves as an example of how social media impacts the way we provide and receive content. You will learn how social media changes the way businesses market products and services, influences how people interact with the government, and dictates how we communicate with one another on a personal level.

Customer Reviews

A great textbook on Social Media, August 18, 2009
By Edward L. Keating
I have found Content Nation to be an informative read on several levels. I like how the author shared a variety of rules and guidelines including Seven Secrets of Social Media, Content Nation Marketing Rules, Content Nation Enterprise Rules etc. The benefit of these distillations is that they can help the practitioner evaluate their current and future social media strategies using these tools as guidelines. Moreover, each of these is illustrated by case studies and examples that help explain the concept. I learned about many new companies and brands as a result of reading Content Nation. I also found it useful that the author shared both the positive and negatives of this phenomenon and provided cautionary tales for people who might seek to deceive the marketplace.

Blossom has created a very useful tome that puts scholarly rigor to a part of the publishing industry that is still considered the Wild, Wild West by some– long live Content Nation!

An insightful overview of the new media, March 26, 2009
By Peter S. Bradeen
I found Content Nation to be a great overview of a wide range of user content driven media outlets. In addition to comprehensive descriptions there are many insights into the causes and future of this sort of medium.

I highly recommend this book to those that wish to participate in the future of the web

“The Future Belongs to Content Nation”, February 9, 2009
By Eileen Bramlet
I found John Blossom’s new book, “Content Nation,” to be one of the most fascinating reads I’ve come across in a long time. Its most vivid illustration is how our very lives are impacted by the fact that just about anyone can publish to the *world* as a result of “social media” — and what this capability means to humankind, both now and years from now. There is no doubt whatsoever that “the future belongs to Content Nation.” Anyone interested in social media, technology, and communications, should be read this intriguing book.

A social media primer, February 9, 2009
By Barry S. Graubart
As everyone can now publish on the web the lines between traditional media and citizen journalism become fuzzy. These changes have huge impact, not just for publishers, but also for marketers and knowledge workers.

The change becomes a blur for many business professionals. Which tools and trends do we need to follow? Which platforms are for business and which are just for fun?

Luckily, John Blossom provides a roadmap making these topics accessible to those who don’t follow social media on a daily basis. And this is not simply an academic analysis. John shared chapters of the book while he was writing it, and incorporated feedback from readers of his blog into the final product. More importantly, John shares real-world examples of how businesses, governments and nonprofits are using social media to achieve success.

Blindsided, January 12, 2009
By John L. Buckman
Just as many in business are beginning to see that they’ve been blindsided by the explosion in social media and social networking, along comes John Blossom’s excellent and insightful study. Marketers, strategic planners, corporate communications managers, and investor relations and public relations professionals all are being impacted by the new freedom that consumers, investors, employees and others have to communicate directly, bypassing traditional hierarchies. Will it change the world? We’ll see. But at the very least, social media is a new element that cannot be overlooked. John’s book – with its analysis and case studies — is a great way to understand the dynamics involved.

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High-tech products have historically had notoriously poor design. Fortunately, companies have recently started to embrace user-centered design practices. This transition hasn’t been smooth; many companies have difficulty transferring good design into final, shippable product. There is a political/cultural disconnect between the outward corporate desire for good design and the internal corporate culture that implements it. The Simplicity Shift is about moving the company culture to value, discover and implement simplicity, and to create a well-designed product. For most companies, product design is not paramount; it is something locked into a design department and approached as a sub-task of the larger sequential process. For companies to truly create breakthrough, easy-to-use products, they must elevate design so that its terms and tools are shared by everyone in the team. Design is a strategic tool that thereby becomes a part of how every company employee thinks, acts–and most importantly–makes decisions. Product managers and professional designers will benefit from the tools and examples about making design work in a production company.

Customer Reviews

Top notch design booklet, December 10, 2004
By ws__
This book contains twelve small chapters on the adequate design of technical devices, the design of good and foremost well usable “user interfaces”. Each of these chapters is a fast read (maybe half an hour), but contains enough substance to fill an entire book of good quality.

It is always good to remind oneself in regular intervals, of what excellent quality means. This book helps you.

I read it from the perspective of a software developer. After reading this I now think, that I really do finally understand the importance of use cases (see Ivar Jacobson). Before I was reading a book by Kent Beck on Test Driven Development. Also here the Jenson Book sheds extra illumination. A test is a use of a program.

You might find the book expensive for so few pages. These pages are more than worth it.

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How should we prepare for the day when machines think and feel as well as or better than humans do?

Should the day come when intelligent machines not only make computations but also think and experience emotions as humans do, how will we distinguish the human from the machine? This introduction to artificial intelligence and to its potentially profound social, moral, and ethical implications is designed for readers with little or no technical background. In accessible, focused, engaging discussions, physicist and award-winning science writer Thomas Georges explores the fundamental issues: What is consciousness? Can computers be conscious? If machines could think and even feel, would they then be entitled to human rights? Will machines and people merge into a biomechanical race? Should we worry that super-intelligent machines might take over the world?

Even now we continue to put increasingly sophisticated machines in control of critical aspects of our lives in ways that may hold unforeseen consequences for the human race. Digital Soul challenges all of us, before it’s too late, to think carefully and rationally about the kind of world we will want to live in with intelligent machines ever closer by our sides.

Customer Reviews

One of Several Useful Books on Artificial Intelligence, but not an Exceptional One, January 1, 2007
By Roger D. Launius
In recent years a spate of books has appeared on the rise of intelligent machines and what that might mean for the future of humanity. “Digital Soul” is among them, and it purports to be a basic introduction to the subject of artificial intelligence and the future. Clearly written and at times engaging, “Digital Soul” asks a range of interesting questions: What defines life? What defines consciousness? Can a machine be alive, can it be conscious? If either alive or conscious does a machine the have rights and privileges that we extend to other living things? Do intelligent machines pose a threat to humanity as depicted in many popular science fiction books and film? Unfortunately, Thomas M. Georges does not offer a sustained and penetrating analysis of them.

Georges suggests that the creation of sentient artificial intelligence is a virtual surety in the twenty-first century if the current level of advancement is maintained. Such a development, he believes, would force humanity to reconsider their everyday beliefs, scientific perspectives, political relations, and religious conceptions. As he put it, the creation of “superintelligent extraterrestrials” living among us on Earth must prompt a rethinking of deeply held beliefs and values.

This is a modest explication of a complex subject. It may be read with profit as an introduction of the possibilities for the future of artificial intelligence. But there are several other books of a similar nature that deserve more sustained consideration. For instance, after reading “Digital Soul” please also consider Ray Kurzweil, “The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence” (Penguin, 1998); Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio, “Robo Sapiens: Evolution of a New Species” (MIT Press, 2000); Rodney Brooks, “Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us” (Pantheon, 2002); Sidney Perkowirz, “Digital People: From Bionic Humans to Androids” (Joseph Henry Press, 2004); James Hughes, “Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future” (Westview Press, 2004); and Joel Garreau, “Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies–And What It Means to Be Human” (Doubleday, 2005).

Even so, I have yet to find a really outstanding book on this subject written at an introductory level. I will continue my search. Meantime, “Digital Soul” is one among several works that is useful, but not path breaking.

I know this is an intro book but c’mon!, December 20, 2003
By Kevin Currie-Knight
This is one of only 3 books I’ve been willing to review after giving up half way through. Georges is a crystal clear, and sometinmes entertaining writer. The book, though, is uncritical, unduly repetitive, and even superficial.

Am I expecting too much? This is, after all, suppoosed to be an intro book. No, my appraial is not based on a highfalutin motive. In fact, it is because this is an intro book that I think there is a disservice done by its surface level approach.

Each chapter (at least in the first half) follows a pretty simple formula. The author asks questions like can machines think, emote, reason, be conscious, understand, etc. Letitimate questions, all. His response, though, seems to be “Yes, they can do all. Why? No one has proved that they cannot; that’s why.” I suppose that in its own way, this is a legitimate reason to remain agnostic on whether computers could one day achieve these traits, but it is also an easy way to dismiss the question. Scientists do not – or should not – work that way. A theory is not viable simply no one has disproven it. Rather, evidence must first be martialled in its favor for it to be taken seriously. (Not that this can’t be done for AI, but the author owes it to us to at least survey the arguments).

Second, the author takes these traits (emotion, consciousness, reason, etc) and in an effort to ‘understand’ waht they are and get some sense of how they might work, he offers a simple explanation: evolution created them. Now I believe wholeheartedly in evolution rather than creation and my qualm is not whether the statement is valid. Rather, it is whether ‘evolution did it,’ is an answer to his question at all. Saying that evolution created consciousness does nothing to illuminate our view on what it is and what makes it work. Of course, we don’t have any really outstanding theories yet, but again, the author owes it to us to at least survey waht we do have.

Third, the author accepts UNCRITICALLY the thought that AI will create machine minds and even ones that outgrow us. While this is a possibility, an introductory book like this, should be examining the legitimate criticsism (By people like Searle, McGinn, and Lanier) against it. Rather, he answers criticism of strong AI by suggesting that anyone who denies it must be a mystic who believes in a soul or god or some other immaterial substance. Not true! There are legitimate criticms of AI and I get the feeling that the intro reader is going to come away from this book with the false impresion that there are not scientifically based criticisms.

The long and the short is that this book is simply lightweight enough for me to fear that the first-time reader will not be exposed to very much from this book. For those who want to read some thoughtful introductions, “Is Data Human” by Michael Hanley, “Society of Mind” by Marvin Minsky (which this book cites from) and “The Minds I” by Hofstadter and Dennett are good ones. With the exception of the first, all of these books may be a little more tedious (not much) than “Digital Soul” but they are also more informative.

Where are we going?, May 7, 2003
By Dennis Littrell
And will “we” still be here when we get there?

Digital Soul is about the nature of our world when machines become as intelligent as humans and beyond. It is also about the nature of those machines. It is clear that Georges has thought long and hard about the subject, has read widely and has compared notes with other futurists. His expression is reasoned and reasonable. There are no muddy sentences or mystical ambiguities. He has worked hard to make sure that his ideas are accessible to a wide range of people including those with no expertise in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

Clearly the problem is to derive benefit from super intelligent machines without letting them take over our lives. Georges believes that it will be difficult to do that since, as the machines get smarter and smarter and we allow them more and more latitude and we more and more depend on them, they will come to control us.

But this is where I think Georges goes astray. The question I would ask is, would they WANT to control us?

Georges implies that human-like values, such as that of self-preservation will automatically follow from machines becoming intelligent. But actually the machines will have no values at all and no desire, either. They will have no inclination to act except as such inclinations are built into their make-up.

Georges also implies that he knows what qualities or values are desirable in a machine. He speaks of “nicer, testosterone-free, superhuman beings” as opposed to “greedy, violent, barbaric, self-absorbed” beings. (p. 212) While these are surely agreeable preferences, it is not clear that artificial creatures designed according to human choice would long survive.

It is also not clear that we would want to design machines according to human values. We would want to design them as tools (which they are) to assist us in following our desires and supporting our values. Notice the difference. Machines that work toward fulfilling the desires and upholding the values of human beings are not the same as machines that contain the desires and values of human beings.

What I think Georges temporarily forgets is that no machine is going to “want” to do anything unless “desire” is built into the machine. The machine doesn’t care whether it is plugged in or not unless we somehow encode such a desire into the machine. What Georges seems to assume is that somehow the complexity that we will demand from machines will somehow necessitate that we inculcate desire, self-preservation and the like into the machine. I think this will not be necessary at all. Indeed I suspect our machines will tell us that they will be able to function just fine without the institution of some kind of supercode or primary instruction telling them to protect themselves and have ulterior motives. (Such notions led to HAL 9000’s murderous behavior in Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey.)

I think a more likely future (and one that Georges addresses) is a symbiosis between people and intelligent machines in which the machines have the knowledge, skill and intelligence necessary for making decisions, but that the actual decisions and the impetus for action remain with human beings.

However, should intelligent machines, as Georges fears, somehow acquire purpose and goals and desires such as self-preservation, then there is a great danger of our lives being taken over and controlled by intelligent machines. He warns us that we have to guard against that danger.

Georges rightly brings up the Fermi Paradox in Chapter 18. Since it would appear (to some at least) that the universe is teeming with intelligent life, Fermi famously asked, “Where is everybody?” One of the many answers (aside from “we are alone”) is that “technological civilizations have a very short life expectancy, because they promptly destroy themselves during their technological adolescence.” This insight from Georges on page 214 is another way of pointing to what he is worried about. Still another way (perhaps) of expressing this is to say that we will merge with our intelligent machines, and having acquired a sort of superintelligence, will find that the values that were built into us by the evolutionary mechanism are muted, values such as self-preservation, curiosity, greed, anger, vengeance, etc. Any sort of desire may be culturally evolved out of us. Why do anything at all? may very well become the unanswerable question. Perhaps this is what happens to technological civilizations in their adolescence, and that is why we haven’t heard from them.

Beyond this I think we need to realize that evolutionary creatures, which we are, are just a place along the way to something else. What that something else will be is as much beyond our ken as understanding quantum mechanics is to bubble bees.

Regardless of some disagreements this is a very interesting book well worth reading from cover to cover. I agree with his enthusiasm about artificial intelligence and I agree that we should continue to pursue its development and not become neo-Luddites. But I am not afraid of a future without human beings as we are now constituted. We are imperfect creatures. We are appropriate and adapted to the present environment. When the environment changes, as it surely will, we may no longer be able to adapt and may go the way of the dodo. So be it. We know from looking at the past that all species eventually die. New ones come into existence. Should the future be any different?

As we see the limitations of humanity, as we see ourselves for the first time as we really are, perhaps it is time for a greater identification. Instead of identifying exclusively with human beings, might we not identify with a larger process that encompasses all life forms including those to come?

An odd mixture of optimism and cynicism, April 6, 2003
By Dr. Lee D. Carlson
The topic of machine intelligence continues to inspire both worry and elation. This book is an interesting mixture of these two, for the author is both optimistic about the eventual rise of machine intelligence, which he argues is to a large degree already here, but he is also clearly concerned about its possible negative consequences. Failure to understand and adapt to the new technologies arising may threaten us with extinction, he argues in the first chapter of the book.

He also states in chapter 1 that in order to survive our “technological adolescence” humans must lose some of their “self-destructive evolutionary baggage.” This belief seems to be a popular one, being pervasive in literature, performing arts, and philosophy. But from a statistical/scientific standpoint, it is clearly unsupported. In comparison to the total number of humans who have ever lived, only a tiny minority of individuals throughout history have ever hurt anyone physically; an even smaller number have actually killed another human being. The author’s cynicism here is totally unjustified.

The author though does engage in interesting discussion on the nature of intelligence and why he believes that machines are already more intelligent than humans are in certain specialized domains. Because of this, he also argues (correctly) that the further rise of machine intelligence will take place incrementally, with no well-defined time at which one could say that machine intelligence has surpassed human intelligence. It seems as though we have learned to live with machines doing things better than we can, at least in some areas, but have not yet viewed these capabilities as being “intelligent”. But, asks the author, if they are more intelligent, at least in these areas, how would one know if they are working properly? It is at this point that the author believes that one should worry about the future of humanity as the dominant life-form on Earth.

Throughout the book, the author shows keen insight into the real goals behind research and development in A.I. The main goal he says is not to create machines that think and behave completely like humans, but find solutions to problems and do tasks that humans require. This will bring about, the author believes, intelligent machines whose cognitive abilities are quite unique, and characteristically non-human-like. There are many examples of his opinions on these matters in current developments in A.I., such as genetic programming and automatic theorem proving. These two areas have exhibited solutions to problems that clearly are very different than what humans would have done.

In addition, and perhaps to the alarm of some philosophers, the author takes a pragmatic view concerning the question as to whether machines can think. He clearly does not want to engage in the arm-chair philosophical debates about this question, and considers them totally irrelevant. What matters to him is whether the machine “acts in all respects” as though it understands. The imputation of mental processes to a machine will assist in the understanding of how it works and what it can do, and this is perfectly fine with the author. But this does, in the author’s view raise questions as to the legal and ethical status of thinking machines.

Because of the title of the book, it is not surprising to find a discussion of the “strong A.I.” problem included in it. The author spends a chapter addressing the nature of consciousness and some of the ideas and myths surrounding it. He recognizes, correctly, that the doctrines of vitalism and dualism are not useful at all from a scientific perspective. The proponents of these doctrines adhere to the “irreducibility” of consciousness, and therefore to the untenability of its analysis. Pure speculation is thus the tool of inquiry, all of this done on the philosopher’s armchair and not in the laboratory. The author though, thankfully, advocates a purely scientific approach, taking the physical nature of consciousness as an axiom, and then seeing how far this will lead. His analysis and commentary throughout the chapter are very interesting and connected with evolutionary arguments as to why consciousness is structured the way it is.

Most interesting is the author’s discussion on the role of emotions in human cognition. Not viewing emotions as inherently undesirable or “irrational”, he gives reasons for wanting to incorporate them into an intelligent machine. One of these is an algorithmic notion: emotions provide a “weighting scheme” that will filter out undesirable paths in the total path space of alternatives. Anyone who has attempted to design search algorithms will understand the importance of weighting schemes that will allow pruning of the search space. The same goes for those involved in the design of neural networks for pattern matching or time series prediction: bias nodes are essential for the proper function of the neural network. The author gives as an example the biases that are built into chess-playing machines, without which the machine’s capabilities would be crippled.

The author definitely believes in the possibility of machines “taking over”, devoting an entire chapter to the possible scenarios that might bring this about. But his cynicism acts against him here, namely his belief that humans, even though clearly expressing intelligence, are prone to extreme violence. His notion of intelligence therefore is too narrow: an alternative one is that the more intelligent an entity becomes, the less prone to violence it becomes. In other words, violence disrupts the cognitive flow of the entity in question, and it avoids it out of necessity: to maintain a state of intelligence that not only has survival value but may indeed be purely a subjective need. The degree of intelligence is thus inversely related to the violence participated in. There are many examples of this, billions in fact, these being the humans who have lived throughout history. The vast majority of humans have been superb thinking machines, and they serve as excellent examples to the ones which they are creating and will create.

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From the voice on the phone, to the voice on the computer, to the voice from the toaster, speech user interfaces are coming into the mainstream and are here to stay forever.

Soundly anchored in HCI, cognitive psychology, linguistics, and social psychology, this supremely practical book is loaded with examples, how-to advice, and design templates. Drawing widely on decades of research-in lexicography, conversation analysis, computational linguistics, and social psychology-author Randy Allen Harris outlines the principles of how people use language interactively, and illustrates every aspect of design work.

In the first part of the book, Harris provides a thorough conceptual basis of language in all its relevant aspects, from speech sounds to conversational principles. The second part takes you patiently through the entire process of designing an interactive speech system: from team building to user profiles, to agent design, scripting, and evaluation. This book provides interaction designers with the knowledge and strategies to craft language-based applications the way users will expect them to behave.

*Loaded with examples and practical synopses of the best practice.

*An ideal combination of conceptual base, practical illustrations, and how-to advice-for design and for the entire design process.

*Will bring novice voice designers fully up to speed, and give experienced designers a new understanding of the principles underlying human speech interaction, principles from which to improve voice interaction design.

Customer Reviews

from HCI International News, Number 12, September 2005, September 23, 2005
By Randy Allen Harris
(Disclosure: I, the review-poster, am the author of the book. I clipped this review from the HCI International News, because it seems fair and helpful. However, the author of the review [who is only identified as “AM”, but who is probably Abbas Moallem, the editor of HCII] did not ‘rate’ the book, and Amazon won’t allow one to post a review without a rating. So, the 5 stars are from me, not the author of the following review. I think it deserves that many, or I wouldn’t have written it, but I am not impartial. Here’s the review…)

This book is an excellent resource for anyone who is interested in voice interaction design. The author, in a very descriptive and practical way, provides not only background knowledge about voice interaction design but also extensive and valuable guidelines for creating and designing voice interaction. After providing an ample description of several concepts, such as speech (chapter 2), sound and meaning (chapter 3), and language usage (“Doing Things with Words,” chapter 4), the author extensively covers the principles of voice interaction design and provides guidelines-from building dialogues to evaluating techniques of voice interaction. A variety of case studies along with multiple examples makes the book very attractive to interaction designers. Occasional long, philosophical discussions and difficult vocabulary might frustrate some readers who are in a hurry to get to the author’s point, but with patience they will discover the usefulness of the lengthy discussions. The book provides an extensive related bibliography and an excellent glossary of terms, especially useful for the novice reader in this field.

AM

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This tutorial book presents an augmented selection of the material presented at the GI-Dagstuhl Research Seminar on Human-Centered Visualization Environments, HCVE 2006, held in Dagstuhl Castle, Germany in March 2006.

The 8 tutorial lectures presented are the thoroughly cross-reviewed and revised versions of the summaries and findings, presented and discussed at the seminar. After an introduction to human-centered visualization environments the fundamental principles and methods in that area are shown such as human-centered aspects, interacting with visualizations, visual representations, as well as challenges and unsolved problems. The book is concluded with lectures on domain-specific visualization describing geographic visualization, algorithm animation, and biomedical information visualization.

Customer Reviews