I always told myself I hated reading; I could never focus long enough to be absorbed into a book. I envied my mother and sister, who could finish an entire book in one sitting if they wanted to. I told myself I’d give it another chance when I was handed three books on my first day of work.
And I did. Soon, the three books weren’t enough to satisfy my desires to read. I had found the right genre, and in order to satisfy my desires to read more, I headed to the Boston Public Library, which quickly became my favorite place in the city.
|View of the fountain outside the Boston Public Library. Great for escaping the hustle and bustle of the city, and it was only a short T ride from my apartment!|
Without further adieu, here was my reading list this summer:
|Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs by Larry Keeley|
|Getting Things Done by David Allen|
|Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp|
|Too Big to Ignore: The Business Case for Big Data by Phil Simon|
|When Gadgets Betray Us: The Dark Side of Our Infatuation With New Technologies by Robert Vamosi|
|Unnatural Selection: Why the Geeks Will Inherit the Earth by Mark Roeder|
|Chokepoints: Global Private Regulation on the Internet by Natasha Tusikov|
|The Circle by Dave Eggers|
Out of all the books on this list, the most practical book by far had to be Getting Things Done. I’m not a big fan of self-help books, but David Allen’s method of breaking projects into tasks with meaningful actions really resonated with me. Even though the book was geared towards adults in their professional career, I definitely planning on using the GTD methodology during my next semester at RPI and beyond. Besides, I’m only a year and a half away from kickstarting my venture into the real world.
“Ten Types of Innovation” and “Sprint” were very business oriented, but they did show that structured methodology of “Getting Things Done”. “Ten Types of Innovation” really opened my eyes as I previously thought innovation was only on the product side, but the book showed me otherwise. Another important takeaway I got from the book was that innovation isn’t really about having all the categories of innovation, it’s the methods that set them apart from competiton.
I thumbed through “Sprint” in only a day, but it gave me some important takeaways on user experience. My intern team had a very similar session called an Atomic Hour which drew from principles of the book, including user-driven design and a “be here now” brainstorming session. Like all millenials, I do groan a little at the thought of putting my phone or laptop away for 3 consecutive hours, but it’s what I already do in lecture to an extent. I’ve found that my academic performance has improved once I forced myself to be device-free during lecture.
I found “When Gadgets Betray Us” to be the most intriguing on this list because it really exposed me to topics I’m interested in, like hardware and device privacy. While reading this book, I found myself Googling things like “RFID chip technology” and “tinfoil credit card wrapper” because I was pushed to learn even more.
“The Circle” was also an eye-opener into privacy, presented in a 1984-esque dystopian lens. This was the only fiction book on my list, but it really resonated with me as a young woman entering the workforce in less than two years. I could actually relate to the plight of the main character during the beginning of the novel, and that is what hooked me. With all the invasions of privacy discussed in the book, I actually thought that we’re not too far off from a world like the one in “The Circle”.
“Chokepoints” was also rather interesting, though I found it a bit of a tough read because I had a tech background rather than a law background. We can do all we want to stop SOPA and protect net neutrality, but is there really such a thing as true net neutrality? I found this book tied into the themes discussed in “When Gadgets Betray Us” and “The Circle”.
I found “Unnatural Selection” to give a good foray into how neurodivergent people can flourish in tech backgrounds, but I found it very stereotypical and cliche at times. As much as the stereotypical “geek” will flourish, it’s a very hostile environment for people who don’t flourish in a geek-like environment. I found that having coworkers with diverse backgrounds actually enriched my internship experience rather than took away from it because I wasn’t working with all “geeks”.
Finally, “Too Big To Ignore” gave a good introduction to the topic of Big Data, which was great for me because I worked at a company that heavily worked with Big Data, but I felt that it fell into the trap of too much hype around Big Data. It did briefly address security concerns, but there are also ethical concerns about storing so much data, as explored in “Chokepoints”, “The Circle”, and “When Gadgets Betray Us”. However, I felt that it was a good contrast to the scary side of technological advancement. Besides, reading multiple perspectives is the best way to learn.