We lived in DC way back in the mid-1990s, and one of our favorite activities was to visit the store at its Connecticut Avenue location and delight in the quality and thoughtfulness that went behind the selection of books. No matter what section one browsed—from environmental issues to politics; biography to media; history to travel; the owners had the remarkable capability to identify the most interesting and compelling books that should be “must reads” for anyone who wanted to learn from the latest and best thinkers on the topic.
Now 20 years later, not only has the bookstore survived and thrived, but despite a change in ownership it has managed to maintain that rare and special quality of bringing in the very best current books in any field. It’s easy to spend half a day or more browsing the store (and it doesn’t hurt that there is an excellent café downstairs either).
So when we visited Politics & Prose yesterday, I made my usual beeline to my go-to section on technology and culture. And just as in the past, I ended up scooping up a handful of fascinating new books to a nearby table and started skimming so I could decide which to buy, which to read parts of while at the bookstore, and which to note for future reference.
Even though I haven’t had a chance to dig into, let alone finish any of them, I thought I’d use this week’s blog to let you know what those books were. Here below then is my filtered recommendation culled from my own very trusted filter.
Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection, Jacob Silverman, (HarperCollins, 2015). This book provides a thoughtful analysis on the implications of living in a constantly connected world, and how social media is changing the way we act, the forces pushing us to behave in a certain way, and whether or not it is creating the kind of culture we want to have.
Disconnected: Youth, New Media and the Ethics Gap, Carrie James, (MIT Press, 2014). We know the young are different when it comes to how they approach and use online and social technologies, but this is a particularly well researched, well written and incisive book that looks deeply into the larger ethical implications of youth behaviors with online technologies, and what it means for their personal development and our culture at large.
BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, John Palfrey (Basic Books, 2015). Palfrey, a faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society served as Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School and so is well positioned to diagnose what libraries need to do in the age of Google, and create the call to action. Though some of what Palfrey calls for will be familiar, his deep and first hand knowledge of the library world makes this a very important read for anyone who cares about the future of the library.
I would love to hear of any of your latest (or classic) favorites on the Internet and society—please share them here.