Getting an accurate read on the world of technology
Here’s my pick of the best technology books of 2012 – and a few timeless classics to boot
Thinking of a good technology read for yourself over the holidays, or a geeky gift for someone else who loves technology (or whom you hope might be persuaded to)?
Here are some recommended books from the fresh technology reads published over the past year – plus a few oldies but goodies that should be on any tech enthusiast’s bookshelf.
Some of the best of 2012 . . . .
The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail but Some Don’t
Nate Silver; Allen Lane, £25
A tale of the rise of the rule of the algorithm, and a must-read book, after the US presidential election. The unassuming numbers geek Silver – obsessed since childhood with statistics, number crunching and probabilities – became the man of the moment after he correctly predicted the election results in all 50 states. Here, he gives a look inside the mathematical processes that let people – sometimes – see the forest rather than the individual trees.
The Human Face of Big Data
Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt, £35
Though this 7.5lb volume might require a small truck to deliver to your door, it will then easily end up on the coffee table and become the geek book all the family will enjoy exploring. Award-winning National Geographic photographer Smolan and co-author Erwitt fill this volume with images, illustrations and essays that will bring the amazing world of “Big Data” to life.
From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet
John Naughton, Quercus, £10.99
The Observer science writer Naughton excels at making technology – and the issues, politics and ideas surrounding it – not just accessible but captivating. This intriguing read will give a real understanding of the internet and its cultural, business and societal significance.
Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet
Andrew Blum, HarperCollins, $26.00
A fascinating look at the “pipes” behind the clicks. Most of us have no sense of what happens after we click on a link, the hardware and software behind our internet connections that span the globe and make this extraordinary network possible. Not available over here until the middle of next year, but you can get this bestseller from the US right now.
We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency
Parmy Olson, Little and Brown, $26.00
Media stories tend to depict these groups as either full-on nasty bad guys or buffoonish adolescents with too much time on their coding hands. This is a gripping insider look at these mysterious and complex organisations, and some of the hackers at their core, and gives a more nuanced insight than the headlines. Available from the US; the paperback comes out next year in the UK.
Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe