Books are essentially about stories, and 2019 (and in reality the past decade) was the history of mastering every industry and function of society through technology. Technology founders and leaders are more powerful than ever, and how we use that power for good or evil will have a lasting impact on the future of our world.
Whether it is the sudden rise of TikTok and the omnipresence of social networks in the economy and society, and politics, the imminent fire of climate change, the challenges of personal and professional development, or finding a way to build a startup – this The year was just an avalanche of books on all topics that are dear to a technologist and a technologist founder heart.
I wanted to get a feel for what our readers thought was the best books they read that year, so I asked our Extra Crunch membership for recommendations. Perhaps not surprisingly for a group of people who actually pay for deeper journalism, our EC readers submitted dozens of book recommendations on every conceivable topic.
From these recommendations, I carefully selected a list of only 1
How To Deal With The Coming Total Disruption Of Society Technology
Loonshots: How To Promote Crazy Ideas, Win Wars, Heal Diseases And Transform Industries By Safi Bahcall
St. Martins Press / 368 pages / March 2019
Anyone who has worked long enough in innovation and technology knows that great ideas can come from anywhere. But how do these ideas actually go from mere thoughts to actions and products, avoiding the organizational policies that often keep them from seeing the light of day?
Safi Bahcall, a PhD physicist from Stanford, co-founded and led Synta Pharmaceuticals as CEO on the NASDAQ IPO in 2007, has been dealing with random science for years Loonshots is his first Book. Bahcall lends itself to concepts from science to go beyond the mere consideration of organizational culture and the study of organizational structure the study of how we shape our teams and how they can play an oversized role, whether new ideas thrive – or be killed Place.
The book, which is praised by Amazon and the Wall Street Journal's bestsellers and bestsellers, represents one of the key issues of today's innovation and contains a series of vignettes to improve our ability to deal with spontaneity. A great book for annoying and disturbing people.
The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey
Princeton University Press / 480 pages / June 2019  Publisher's Link
Digital Disturbances are omnipresent. Artificial intelligence is rapidly eliminating millions of jobs in the middle class, and the fear of automation is growing among more and more workers, polarizing our policies and complicating the future of business.
But all this happened earlier. More than a century ago, technologies such as replaceable parts and the steam engine have led to one of the greatest transformations our society has ever experienced in the Industrial Revolution. But how did the Industrial Revolution happen and how did it influence people in England, America and elsewhere?
Carl Benedikt Frey, a fellow at Oxford University and director of the Program for Technology and Employment at the Oxford Martin School, examines the short, medium and long term consequences of the Industrial Revolution for workers, noting that the changes are short term had extremely negative consequences. His lessons from this pivotal moment in history can help technology leaders avoid the greatest risks in designing human / AI systems in the coming age of automation.
Digital Transformation: Survival and prosperity in an era of mass extinction by Thomas M Siebel
RosettaBooks / 256 pages / July 2019
You have your structure based on Loonshots and the lessons learned from The Technology Trap but in the end, many leading companies today are threatened by the extinction of a number of new technology waves, such as resilient cloud computing and the Internet of Things. What exactly should you do if you do not disturb but only receive?
Multi-billion dollar entrepreneur Tom Siebel, who founded Siebel Systems and merged with Oracle for nearly $ 6 billion in 2006, wrote his first book in nearly two decades on how aging businesses can handle these turbulent times. With Digital Transformation Siebel seeks to provide those concerned with an introduction to AI and other major technology waves to help executives identify strategies they can use to defend their businesses.
A Swift Example Digital Transformation provides important lessons, though most may ignore them before it's too late.
How to Deal with Tech's Insufficiencies and Headbanging, Stupid Behavior  Technically Incorrect: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats to Toxic Technologies by Sara Wachter-Boettcher
W. W. Norton & Company / 240 pages / October 2017
While here at TechCrunch, the other side of this coin, we like to write about the growth of innovative products and startups, that the founders and engineers have been doing stupid acts over the last few years that have affected the future of our industry. Whether it's sexism in financial underwriting or political controversy among employees (recent reports), technology is increasingly under scrutiny – and the industry does not look good at full resolution.
Technically Incorrect A book by consultant and technology critic Sara Wachter-Boettcher attempts to playfully address all of these challenges by, so to speak, sharing them together so that the world sees them. While Wachter-Boettcher is reportedly aimed at the general public, the idioms identified by Wachter-Boettcher should be taught in each class for software development, product management, and UX design.
A member of Extra Crunch wrote in his recommendation:
This is my favorite book. It highlights examples of technology bias and how it has led to negative or even harmful applications in society. It is a strong argument for any developer to think about how biased their technology can be or how it can be potentially harmful. A must read.
Faced with the plague of technology scandals, the book may be a bit outdated just two years after its release, but its teachings are invaluable and will stand the test of time.
Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower's Inside Story About Big Data, Trump, and Facebook Breaking Democracy, and How It Can Come Again by Brittany Kaiser
Harper / 400 Pages / October 2019
 Perhaps no scandal has so shocked the tech industry – or politics in general – as the Cambridge Analytica imbroglio, which not only showed the power of Facebook and other social Networks about us through our user data, but also the extent to which these data are available influences purchasing decisions and of course our choices.
Brittany Kaiser was a counselor and former Obama campaigner who joined Cambridge Analytica to make a difference. I think, in a sense, she has learned how big data really works and how that overlaps with the needs of campaign managers. Targeted writes about her experiences on the ground floor of the organization and places her in the context of the broader challenges that technology and ethics will face in the future. It is a Cri de Coeur for other technology workers to think about how their work affects society and how Kaiser may have done it. Targeted competes directly with Mindf * ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America by Christopher Wylie for this year's Best Memory of Dirty History. Targeted has been reviewed by EC readers, and it's certainly a story that deserves more than one point of view.
How to think about the biggest news of this year.
We Are The Weather: The salvation of the planet begins at breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer
Farrar, Straus and Giroux / 288 pages / September 2019
The Climate change was omnipresent this year and perhaps nowhere more so than at Silicon Valley's technical headquarters, which suffered fires and repeated blackouts this year, as energy utility PG & E struggled to deliver electricity in the changing climate of California. But climate change is not just something that "happens" – it is determined by the choices we make every day.
The longtime writer Jonathan Safran Foer returns to the topic of his only non-fiction book. Animals Eat to examine how our food choices directly affect the health of the planet. Even though it looks like what we eat for breakfast is just a small drop of carbon in a huge ocean, our collective and aggregated decisions have a huge impact on the organization of our food systems.
Foer brings in his literary talents On this topic, to create a structured and sometimes mind-driven report that fuses the fear of climate change, personal anecdotes and short stories to create a compelling argument for changing our daily habits in a way that is in harmony with the needs of our environment. It may not be appropriate to each reader's preferred style, but few books combine all the points on the subject as much as We Are The Weather
AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / 272 pages / September 2018
Another story that made headlines this year was China. From the trade wars and tariffs between Trump and Xi, to the increasing security risks of Chinese industrial espionage, to the surveillance technology that companies like Huawei export to underpin digital authoritarianism, China's actions change our world (and at least that side) of the Pacific, not for the positive).
However, a place of competition between the US and China remains focused on artificial intelligence and which country will take the lead in this critical new market. China has invested heavily in industry in 2025 under its Made in China plan, while the United States continues to have some of the world's leading research groups and companies.
Kai-fu Lee, a well-known trans-Pacific venture capitalist, attempts to demystify and defuse the history of the arms race by carefully examining what is happening in the AI laboratories and products of leading companies such as Didi, Baidu and Google is going on. Lee focuses less on fear than analysis and brings decades of experience in the field to give readers a detailed, sober and ultimately compelling insight into the differences between Chinese and American AI efforts and how to learn from them can each other. It was also our most recommended book by EC members, and I personally loved it (and discussed it a bit, though I never really came to review it – sorry!)
How to Think About Stories
Craft stories for the virtual reality of Lakshmi Sarah and Melissa Bosworth
Routledge / 258 pages / October 2018
McLuhan's often-repeated and often misinterpreted "medium The message "is a central aspect of communication science. Another aspect is that the medium determines the type of stories that can be communicated. Books, radio, and television are platforms that provide storytellers with specific tools and limitations, and over the decades (and for books and centuries), we've learned to adapt and optimize our visions to those inner boundaries.
But virtual reality is a whole new field, and as a medium it is just beginning. How do we use the VR's inherent immersiveness? What are the new boundaries for telling stories, and what norms for action and characters need to be set to make this medium accessible to viewers?
Multimedia journalists Lakshmi Sarah and Melissa Bosworth wrote Creating Stories for Virtual Reality as a primer for any storyteller who wants to learn more about how immersive media, augmented reality and virtual reality are storytelling Reporting and entertainment will be transformed into the future.
An EU reader wrote in his recommendation:
It provides a really good overview of different types of virtual reality and how they can be designed to resonate in different ways with the audience. For anyone considering VR, this is incredibly helpful.
It's certainly early, and books like this almost certainly have a short half-life. For those who want to explore VR stories, however, this is just the title to learn about this small but fast-growing segment of the tech industry.
The Overstory by Richard Powers
W. W. Norton & Company / 512 pages / April 2018
Our EC readers are very fictional, but we have occasionally received some fiction recommendations. A popular novel was Richard Powers & # 39; The Overstory who won this year's Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. So, sure, a critics favorite. But what makes the novel so unique and intriguing in a year that saw a number of great contributions?
Similar to Foer, Powers is concerned about how humans and climate change come together to destroy our natural environment and especially our environment trees and forests. The Overstory is really a multitude of stories of Americans who connect with nature and each other to take action to counter the massive changes that are coming and already underway.
This is the twelfth novel for Powers. In addition to literature, he also has a background in physics and used to be a computer programmer. His work on The Overstory was partly inspired by his time in Silicon Valley, Stanford, where he watched California's famous redwood trees. If you're looking for a thought-provoking novel, you do not have to search any further.
How to Help in the Tech World
Developing a Manager: What to do when everyone looks at you? by Julie Zhuo
Portfolio / 288 pages / March 2019
There is an archetypal history that happens in fast-growing startups. A founder hires friends and acquaintances, builds a team, launches a product and beats gold. As growth continues unabated, more and more employees are hired, forcing startup to invent a management structure to bring some organization to chaos. However, managers are hard to find, and there are already people with a degree of employment in the business. And so these early employees are often quickly placed in leadership and leadership positions and suddenly work on direct reports without any experience.
Julie Zhuo, Vice President of Design at Facebook, has written a guide to these first, sudden problems. promoted managers exactly what they should do to bring order to chaos. This book is definitely in the self-help section of the bookstore's management guru, but Zhuo's personal experience going through this transformation is reflected in her examples and clearly defined points of improvement.
One EC reader wrote in his recommendation:
] One of the biggest organizational failures of fast-growing start-ups is getting great ICs into first-time management roles and expecting them to quickly become great leaders with little Develop training, mentoring or role models. As this almost always works according to plan, Julie, the first designer and later director of design at Facebook, has written a book in which she describes all the challenges that arise from the first management and the associated insights. A book that I can recommend to my team across the board.
The Making of a Manager addresses a unique audience with unique insights and is well worth reading.
Permission to Feel: Unleashing the Power of Emotions to Help Our Children, Ourselves and Our Society thrive on Marc Brackett
Celadon Books / 304 pages / September 2019
This was a surprising recommendation from the European Commission membership, but when I looked at it, I fully understood why it fits this list. One of the biggest challenges for children is their emotional development – how do they interact with the world and with other people? How do you listen to yourself and how do you feel?
However, it's not just children, because we can all improve how we respond to the daily stresses in our lives.
That's why Marc Brackett, the founding director of The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, examines how we deal with our emotions and why it's important to give and receive "permission to feel". He offers an acronym called RULER (which of course he does) to better manage our emotional lives:
- R Recognizing emotions in oneself and in others.
- U Understanding causes and consequences of emotions.
- L Making emotions capable of precise words.
- E Express emotions in context and consider culture.
- R Effectively stimulate emotions to achieve goals and well-being.
Considering that technology is often one of the least emotionally hospitable industries, Brackett's thoughts and solutions seem like a fitting fit for improving the quality and well-being of our jobs and lives.
How to be an entrepreneur
Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
Simon & Schuster / 624 pages / October 2017  Publisher's Link
Isaacson is today probably best known for his biography of Steve Jobs in 2011, but he has complemented this magnum opus with another immersion in another entrepreneur, this time in Leonardo Da Vinci, the epitome of the Renaissance. Here you will find all the typical Isaacson features: the plot, the characters, the life lessons, the inspiration. I do not know how anyone can go away from a book like this and be deeply inspired by the power of one person to change the world (or at least to invent new ones!)
as a Commissioner wrote in his article Recommendation: "Curiosity and imagination lead to awareness and innovation. He perfected the art. A lesson for everyone. "
The book first appeared two years ago with a paperback version that came out about a year ago, and perhaps is so remarkable that our EC members still find deep value in this biography and its teachings.