What we’re reading: Our September 2020 reading list

This is our third reading list. The others are from March 2020 and June 2020. Same as the other lists, this one has no particular order.

The UI Audit

By Jane Portman

This is a book on how to do user interfaces for web applications. It does not have a single picture in it. This is text only. This sounds crazy, but it works very well. Very useful, very hands-on. And very focused. This is not a general user interface book, let alone a design book. The focus really is on user interfaces for web applications. You can get the book here.

The Unicorn’s Shadow

By Ethan Mollick

The founders of successful companies are in their twenties. You really need cofounders. And it’s all about the one big idea. Turns out that most of this is not really true. Ethan Mollick writes about these and other startup myths. He also explains, for example, why getting some sleep may actually be more beneficial than trying to force the big “aha moment”.

The Hype Machine

By Sinan Aral

This is a, if not the most comprehensive, analysis of how social media influence or even shape us, our world, our habits, and more. But unlike many other writings on this topic, this is not just doom and gloom. Sinan Aral also has clear and practicable recommendations for how social media could be changed so that we can use them to our advantage.

The Entrepreneurial State

By Mariana Mazzucato

“Private sector = entrepreneurial and innovative” and “state = bureaucratic and slow” does not always hold. Mariana Mazzucato writes about examples of innovations that not only created and shaped entire industries, but that originated in publicly funded, high-risk R&D. For example, GPS, Siri, or many pharmaceutical advances. She also argues for rethinking the current (and somewhat broken) relationship between private and public sector, and describes what a more effective and inclusive policy for public-private interplay could look like (no, it’s not just some redistribution scheme).

The Starry Messenger

By Galileo Galilei

Galilei wrote The Starry Messenger in 1610. In this book, Galilei describes some of the discoveries he had made with his home-made telescope. It might be a surprising choice for us to include this in our list. But not only are we fans of Galilei’s innovation practices here at Mergeflow. It’s probably also interesting to think about Galilei’s writing style, and what this might mean for us today. When you read The Starry Messenger, you’d probably agree that we would not write scientific publications in the same writing style today. Now, just as a thought experiment: What might people 400 years from now say about our scientific or technological writing style? What might be different then?

Statistics: The complete mini-course

By Cassie Kozyrkov

This is the first non-book that we include in our recommended readings. No matter if you are new to statistics, machine learning, etc., or if you consider yourself an expert, Cassie Kozyrkov’s mini-course is a really great resource. It is really, really hard to write something that at the same time is readable to a newbie and also provides real insights to an expert. Cassie Kozyrkov can do this. Also, be sure to check out her other writings, which you can find here. The mini-course is here.

Leave a Reply