Top 10 must-read books on technology
While there are many resources available online as to how things work and fit into one another, there are a couple of really great books on a variety of technology subjects, some of which are self-help, while others offer insight and opinion into the exciting world of IT and consumer electronics.
So with that in mind, we compiled a list of the Top 10 must-read books, spanning consumer electronics, IT, the Internet and computers in general.
1. Electronics All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies by Doug Lowe
No book collection will ever be complete without at least one book from the “For Dummies” series. The franchise has become one of the most loved and respectable series of books and the Electronics All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies is no exception. “This friendly-and-straightforward guide introduces the basics of electronics and enhances your learning experience by debunking and explaining concepts such as circuits, analogue and digital, schematics, voltage, safety concerns, and more,” the publisher states. The book is packed with graphs, interesting pictures and easy-to-read formula that will transform any reader into a tech-savvy consumer.
2. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Walter Isaacson’s look at the co-founder of Apple has been in the Top 100 best-sellers list of Amazon for almost a year and is still selling like hot-cakes. “Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years – as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues – Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing,” Amazon wrote in their description. No technology-lover should be without a copy of Steve Jobs, as it will have the power to inspire, motivate and reflect on many of the creator’s great deeds. The book is available in hard copy, soft copy and as a Kindle download.
3. Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum
Sitting comfortably at number 13 on Amazon’s Top 100 best-sellers for 40 days in a row, Blum takes a look inside the Internet’s physical infrastructure and reveals a side that most online users will not recognise. “From the room in Los Angeles where the Internet first flickered to life to the caverns beneath Manhattan where new fiber-optic cable is buried; from the coast of Portugal, where a ten-thousand-mile undersea cable just two thumbs wide connects Europe and Africa, Blum chronicles the dramatic story of the Internet’s development, explains how it all works, and takes the first-ever in-depth look inside its hidden monuments,” the book’s summary states. It’s a fascinating look at how the entire globe is connected by a simple concept, and reveals how it all fits together.
4. The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business and Society by Manuel Castells
Similar to Blum’s book, Castells takes an in-depth look at how the Internet has populated users’ behaviour, where it all started and possibilities for future growth. “Castells avoids any predictions or prescriptions – there have been enough of those – but instead draws on an extraordinary range of detailed evidence and research to describe what is happening and to help us understand how the Internet has become the medium of the new network society,” The Guardian wrote. The author also attempts to answer a number of burning questions and aims to give readers something to ponder about the next time they click on an Internet link.
South African author Goldstuck penned the informative book on mobile usage in South Africa to establish an essential guide to mobile technology in the country. The book is a follow-up to Goldstuck’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Going Wireless and asks a variety of critical questions. “What does it all mean? Where is it all going? And, how do ordinary people tap into this communication revolution? Here is a guide that once again catches the wave of interest and activity, that taps into the buzz and also sets the mobile agenda for ordinary people and businesses throughout South Africa,” summarizes Kalahari.com
6. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to WordPress by Susan Gunelius
WordPress has transformed the way in which Internet users create webpages and self-publish content and with their free-to-use model, literally anybody can create a sprawling website. But the Content Management System can be a bit tricky for those who are not as savvy as the rest, but luckily Gunelius takes the hassle out of publishing. “This technology book covers the basics such as as well as more advanced topics like how categories, pages and tags are used. If you are new to blogging, you’ll gain a lot from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to WordPress even if you decide to use Blogger, Joomla or another platform instead. If you’re a WordPress user already, you’ll gain new insights that will take your content to the next level,” wrote Small Business Trends’ Ivana Taylor.
7. The Future of the Internet, and How To Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain
Zittrain takes a look at the constant dangers that face Internet users if there is not a balance between controlled technologies with the flow of innovation. Zittrain examines two contrasting business models and tries to reach a conclusion on how best to avoid online disaster. “The generative models and non-generative model work well, but the only entity that can change the way they operate is the vendor. If we want the internet to survive we need to change. People must wake up to the risk or we could lose everything,” Zittrain explains.
8. You are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by Jaron Lanier
With today’s world being more connected than ever before and Internet users embracing social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, Lanier asks with users have lost their true form of identity and replaced it with a virtually-created idea of themselves. “Lanier reveals how recent developments in our culture are deadening personal interaction, stifling genuine inventiveness and even changing us as people. Showing us the way to a future where individuals mean more than machines, this is a searing manifesto against mass mediocrity, a creative call to arms – and an impassioned defence of the human,” The Guardian said.
9. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
Have you ever asked yourself if the Internet is making us less intelligent? With automatic spell-checker, online address book and calendars, the human mind has less to worry about or remember – ultimately making our brains less active. Carr looks at exactly that conundrum and wonders if the Net is not making users dumb. “Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. As he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer—Carr interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience by such pioneers as Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways,” Amazon wrote in their summary.
The world’s Internet population sat up and took notice of hacker collective Anonymous when they hacked their way into several institutions, most notable HB Gary and Sony’s online gaming portal PlayStation Network. Olson’s book takes a closer look at how the hacking collective operate, their strategies and delves deep into the underbelly of the hacking world to expose their trade secrets. “Olson goes behind the headlines and into the world of Anonymous and LulzSec with unprecedented access, drawing upon hundreds of conversations with the hackers themselves, including exclusive interviews with all six core members of LulzSec,” Amazon wrote. It is an incredibly interesting read about the seedy nature of hacking and the horrible consequences that can arise from it.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor