Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 13, 200811:53 AM

Back To Business Reading List

Back to school or back to business, it's that time of the year when all of us hunker down and try to make our numbers (or grades). It's high season for great books and 2008 has some gems that I'm looking forward to reading.

Here are five news business books I've picked up that I can't wait to read:

1. Slide:ology - The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte.
I had the pleasure of meeting Nancy Duarte at the TED Conference this year. This is how her publisher (O'Reilly) describes the book: "Presentation software requires professionals to think visually on an almost daily basis. But unlike verbal skills, effective visual expression is not easy, natural, or actively taught in schools or business training programs. slide:ology offers practical approaches that combine conceptual thinking and inspirational design, with insightful case studies from the world's leading brands. Written by the President and CEO of Duarte Design, the firm that created the presentation for Al Gore's Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth." It's a visually beutiful book and I already picked up a couple of ideas just by skimming through it. I can't wait to deep dive on this content.

2. Crowdsourcing - Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe.
Here's what says about this book: "First identified by journalist Jeff Howe in a June 2006 Wired article, “crowdsourcing” describes the process by which the power of the many can be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the province of the specialized few. Howe reveals that the crowd is more than wise — it’s talented, creative, and stunningly productive. Crowdsourcing activates the transformative power of today’s technology, liberating the latent potential within us all. It’s a perfect meritocracy, where age, gender, race, education, and job history no longer matter; the quality of work is all that counts; and every field is open to people of every imaginable background. If you can perform the service, design the product, or solve the problem, you’ve got the job... Jeff Howe delves into both the positive and negative consequences of this intriguing phenomenon. Through extensive reporting from the front lines of this revolution, he employs a brilliant array of stories to look at the economic, cultural, business, and political implications of crowdsourcing. How were a bunch of part-time dabblers in finance able to help an investment company consistently beat the market? Why does Procter & Gamble repeatedly call on enthusiastic amateurs to solve scientific and technical challenges? How can companies as diverse as iStockphoto and Threadless employ just a handful of people, yet generate millions of dollars in revenue every year? The answers lie within these pages.

3. Click - What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters by Bill Tancer.
Here's how Bill's Blog describes Click: "Do we really understand ourselves?  We are fascinated by polls and survey data about our responses to stimuli from the outside world, data can provide interesting insight into what compels or repels us.  As the Internet becomes more ingrained in our lives, from reading the news, to communicating through email and social networks, to transacting online, the byproduct of our aggregate movements provides an even deeper insight into who we are. Click, provides a behind the scenes view into the daily analysis we conduct on the Hitwise research team. With a sample of over ten million Internet users U.S. and twenty-five million worldwide, insights can be gleaned on the sites we collectively visit, what we search for and what that tells us about ourselves. 

4. Always Be Testing - The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer by Bryan Eisenberg, John Quarto-vonTivadar and Lisa T. Davis.
I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Always Be Testing (and even provided a testimonial for the book), but it's always a horse of a different buggy when you get the real finalized version. As always, I think Bryan Eisenberg's books are must-reads for all Marketers. Here's how the website describes the book: "Always Be Testing will help you understand how to set up website optimization tests and improve your conversion rates. Learn the theory behind the testing, understand Google Web Optimizer click reports, discover the 'why' of clicks, and decipher the valuable data. By the time you finish reading this book, no matter what your skill level, you will have learned how to set up tests and improve crucial page components with the help of real-world case studies and examples."

5. Here Comes Everybody - The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky.
I started reading this book many months ago, but I am enjoying it so much that I am only on page 90. I'm savouring every moment and I don't want it to end (yes, I like it that much). Here's what Publishers Weekly (via Amazon) has to say about Here Comes Everybody: "Blogs, wikis and other Web 2.0 accoutrements are revolutionizing the social order, a development that's cause for more excitement than alarm, argues interactive telecommunications professor Shirky. He contextualizes the digital networking age with philosophical, sociological, economic and statistical theories and points to its major successes and failures. Grassroots activism stands among the winners — Belarus's flash mobs, for example, blog their way to unprecedented antiauthoritarian demonstrations. Likewise, user/contributor-managed Wikipedia raises the bar for production efficiency by throwing traditional corporate hierarchy out the window. Print journalism falters as publishing methods are transformed through the Web. Shirky is at his best deconstructing Web failures like Wikitorial, the Los Angeles Times's attempt to facilitate group op-ed writing. Readers will appreciate the Gladwellesque lucidity of his assessments on what makes or breaks group efforts online: Every story in this book relies on the successful fusion of a plausible promise, an effective tool, and an acceptable bargain with the users. The sum of Shirky's incisive exploration, like the Web itself, is greater than its parts."

What books are on your reading list for this quarter (or semester)?

By Mitch Joel