virus: Suggested Reading

Reed Konsler (
Mon, 15 Apr 1996 11:05:22 -0600

Suggested Reading:

All of these books don't fit the categories you have so far; may I
suggest another? Why? Because you have a lot of stuff about the natural
world, but little about the social/cultural one. While I'm against
polluting a discourse that is at least attempting to remain scientific,
I'd point out that any accurate description of the world must recognize
the significant contrubition the human endeavors have made to the
enviornment within which we mutually interact. In other words,
inderstanding the natural world is fine...but noone lives in that world.

We live in a world of devices, of buildings...ergo the subject:


The Day The Universe Changed

by James Burke

Both these books combine history with a description of the impact of
technology on society/culture. The Day the Universe Changed analyzes
these topics by investigating the origins of several common but
significant technological advances; computers, atomic weapons, the
printing press. His thesis is that these inventions literally "changed
the universe" it that they completely changed how people though about
the world. Very significant if combined with the concept of memetics
If you're interested in finding out what Burke thinks about things you
can search for him in the WWW. There are usually several interviews and
papers to be found in order to give you a taste of his thinking and
rhetorical style. I consider Burke as inspiring an author in terms of
the aplicability and breadth of his ideas as Dawkins. If you've read
The Extendeded Phenotype then TDTUC is a must. The synthesis of the two
is dizzying in it's elegance and power in explaining trends in society.

The Printing Press as an Agent of Change

by Elizabeth Eisenstein

A rigorous historical treatment of the effect of printing on religious,
scientific, and political thought in Europe. Her thesis is that many of
the debates concerning the seeds of the "modern" era (the reformation,
the scietific revolution, etc.) can be traced to the effect of text on
the thinkers of the era.
This book is especially relevant since we sit at the brink of a
communications revolution (the net) as, if not more, significant.
Eisenstein's thesis is that the advent of text actually changed the way
people thought and were able to think. Her work resonates well with a
lot of what you see in the current clips and forwards. It provides good

To Engineer is Human

by Henry Petroski

His first book, and it my opinion the best, describing the thought
process of engineering as they might apply to "real life". It is a good
step toward a rational model of behavior.

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

by Richard Rhodes

A masterpiece. This narrative weaves science, technology, engineering,
culture, and politics into a panorama that forcefully demonstrates the
dramatic effect of technology on the way people think. It's a good
read, too. Rhodes second book: Dark Sun is more oriented towards the
politics of the Hydrogen Bomb and less interesting, in my opinion, than
the first...but still good.

The Prize

by Daniel Yergin

A modern history of the petroleum industry and the profound influence
of oil on what he describes as "hydrocarbon man" (that is, us) from the
inception of the industry to the Gulf War. The world might start
communicating electronically, but it still runs on oil. That fact of
existence can be used to rationalize a lot of history and current

Anyway, I noticed that you had so many books I have on my shelves within
easy reach...I thought I'd suggest the ones that sit beside them.

Enjoy, by the way this sight is cool. I might not agree with
everything...but I'd join this church before and of the others I've seen
so far.