What Tom’s Reading

Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, Howard Rheingold

Tom calls it extraordinary. It can be ordered from booksellers and through Rheingold’s website. Check out the amusing www.rheingold.com, and join the discussion there about the book’s topics and issues.




Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround, Lou Gerstner

Quote: “I came to see in my time at IBM that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game. … If I could have chosen not to tackle the IBM culture head-on, I probably wouldn’t have. My bias coming in was toward strategy, analysis and measurement. In comparison, changing the attitude and behaviors of hundreds of thousands of people is very, very hard.”

Book review on forbes.com


Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, Robert Coram


Tom sent it to a long list of friends and business leaders. Colonel John Boyd is the originator of the O.O.D.A. loop: Observe. Orient. Decide. Act.

Fast Company article re Boyd


The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History, Philip Bobbitt & Michael Howard


Quote: “We are at a pivotal point in history. … We are at one of a half dozen turning points that have fundamentally changed the way societies are organized for governance.”


Natural Capitalism, Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, & L. Hunter Lovins


Paul Hawken is the founder of Smith & Hawken, the garden store/catalog recognized for environmental concern (he is no longer with the company). In Tom’s ramkings of catalogs with a plot, a story, he gives Smith & Hawken an 8+ out of 10.


Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach, and Increase Your Market Share of the World’s Largest Market, Martha Barletta


Since June 2000, Tom has called Faith Popcorn’s EVEolution the only book on this topic. Martha Barletta now adds her voice! Fun fact from the book: Between 1970 and 1998 men’s median income rose 6%; women’s, 63%.

Barletta’s Cool Friends Interview


The Support Economy: Why Corporations are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff & James Maxmin

Quote: “In the second half of the twentieth century a new society of individuals emerged — a breed of people unlike any the world has ever seen. Educated, informed, traveled, they work with their brains, not their bodies. They do not assume that their lives can be patterned after their parents’ or grandparents’. … But in a discontinuous and irreversible break with the past, today’s individuals seek the experiences and insights that enable them to find the elusive pattern in the stone, the singular pattern that is ‘me.'”

Book review

The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, Louis Menand



The Mask of Command, John Keegan


A historian looks at past leaders for similarities and differences. Major theme: “The warfare of any one society may differ so sharply from that of another that commonality of trait and behavior in those who direct it is overlaid altogether in importance by differences in the purposes they serve and the functions they perform.”



The Timeless Way of Building, Christopher Alexander


Quote: “The fact is, a person is so far formed by his surroundings, that his state of harmony depends entirely on his harmony with his surroundings.”


The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being Transformed by Rapidly Advancing Technologies, Damien Broderick


Statement by San Diego State Math Prof Vernor Vinge (now retired) at the NASA VISION-21 Symposium, quoted in the book: “Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.” And the Symposium was held ten years ago.

Broderick’s bibliography



In the same vein: The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence, by Ray Kurzweil, was listed in What Tom’s Reading in September 1999.



Polite Revolutionary: Lessons from an Uncivil Servant, Bob Stone



Where We Stand: 30 Reasons for Loving Our Country, Roger Rosenblatt


Rosenblatt presents his reflections post September 11, 2001.



A re-read for Tom, new to What Tom’s Reading:

The Total Package: The Secret History and Hidden Meanings of Boxes, Cans, and Other Persuasive Containers, by Thomas Hine


Tom calls it Design Case I. Quote: “The most fundamental difference between a traditional market and the places through which you push your cart is that in modern retailing all the selling is done without people. It replaces people with packages.”





Corpsing, Toby Litt