Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas Break Book Reviews

Steve JobsSteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book really opened my eyes to the impact of one man on the way I live today. The guy was insane, but the quirks and portrayal Isaacson presents Jobs with makes me want to like him, and now cheer for his products. I have always secretly wondered why I felt a closer affinity with Apple over Windows - even when making defensive statements to my wife as she mocked my MacBook for one reason or another. Now I better understand. Jobs' minimalist and emphatic love of design shaped his world and his passion for perfection. His end-to-end business model combined with his drive for the rebellious image make for a fascinatingly ironic combination that I find very compelling.

If you don't like Apple, or Steve Jobs, or Pixar movies, or digital music, or a host of other things that change the way we currently live - that is fine. But you really should read this book to better understand why things are the way they are!

Present Shock: When Everything Happens NowPresent Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Though it was a bit difficult to get through, this book is an important read for anyone interested in the evolution of our current digital culture we now live and interact in. I thoroughly enjoyed Rushkoff's insights on time, human interaction, contact, and context. I could be wrong, but I felt that in reading this I was getting a really good introduction to current themes of media theory and digital culture conversation.

Rushkoff basically says we are living in a state of unrest, confusion, and downright chaos due to the fact that we can no longer make sense of our identities and world through linear models. This postmodernist frame of mind he calls "present shock", a state in which we are continually seeking after the elusive present due to our conception of time, trade, entertainment, connection, and purpose. Though he did offer lots of gloom, and at times felt somewhat like he was on a rant, I felt that the book was a little more even-balanced than some.

Even if you don't buy his argument, or feel a sense of solemnity, there is so much packed into Rushkoff's pages that deserve your time. His writing is almost poetical and I feel like I could have spent much longer than the time I did in order to process and think through the different sections of the text. Some books you can skim or read the spark notes on, but really you should just take the time to read this one.

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