Favorite Books

(elkement. Last changed: 2012-04-25. Created: 2003-01-01. Tags: Reading, Books, Philosophy. German Version.)

I read a lot of books, in particular since I have turned from an e-reader skeptic to a Kindle addict. This is the list of book favorites, pivotal particularly to my understanding of the corporate world.

The descriptions are not intended to represent reviews, and the list reveals more about me than about the books. If I were to name the favorite of favorites - tributes go to Mike Daisey for 21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ amazon.com

Theorie der Unbildung - Die Irrtümer der Wissensgesellschaft

Konrad Paul Liessmann

[In German]. The Austrian philosopher and university professor Konrad Liessmann defines knowledge and literacy in contrast to standard mantras of modern 'information and knowledge worker society'.
Education cannot be easy-going and in a playful way as we should be transformed in this process of adoption of knowledge. It is not sufficient to just 'know where to search for' (run off to the restrooms at a party to google for the background of a famous quotation).
He critizises ranking and so-called quality control being a playground of management consultants and related dogmas that flood universities. The analysis polemic (entertaining also), but to the point - I wholeheartedly agree to almost any of Liessman's arguments.

The History of Western Philosophy

Bertrand Russell

Russell describes the history of philosophical thinking with a bias. A bias that he does not deny. Nevertheless tries hard to pay tribute the arguments of his opponents and he explains their reasoning in terms of their situation in a specific era of history (in a way only Russell is able to analyze). Russell is not as kind when talkiing about philosophers who he considers violating basic humanistic principles.

21 Dog Years - Doing Time @ amazon.com

Mike Daisey

Continuing the tradition established by Microserfs with respect to the dotcom hype in the late nineties.
But compared to "Microserfs", this book reflects the author's personal story: Sarcasm and cynicism wrap a clear message.
I believe that every IT/Tech insider would agre to Mike Daisey. Everybody who has been exposed to IT corporation cult-ure, everybody who is to some extent in IT customer service.
Mike Daisey is an awesome story-teller, gifted with the ability to tell a story about himself. He utililzes self-irony to ist extreme, but he is able to keep some distance to his person in terms of the subject of his story.
Years after the hype induced by this book Mike Daisey is a successful monologist - well deserved.


Douglas Coupland

Coupland describes the life of a bunch of nerds at Microsoft in the mid-nineties and in their own company afterwards. But it is more than that: It is a mosaic of details building a perfect picture of a a generation's way of living and thinking.

Generation X

Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland is capable of portraying the core feelings and the true way of thinking of a generation by a sequence of loosely connected stories and by digging into the details of bizzare everyday items and jargon.

The Monk and the Riddle - The Art of Creating a Life while Making a Living

Randy Komisar

Again, a book that does not fit into any category.
Philosophical reflections on lifeand work, insights into the machinery of mystical Silicon Valley. And an autobiography and/or a novel bringing back hope into the life of people not knowing where they belong to really.
The subtitle names it The Art of Creating a Life while Making a Living. My dream is to write something roughly comparable ten years from now.

God's Debris - A Thought Experiment

Scott Adams

A race through seemingly bizarre philosophical and scientific ideas - wrapped in a dialoage, a 'thought experiment'. One of the core question is: What would constitute a challenge for an omnipotent being? The connection between these ideas and 'Dilbert' is not as remote as it seems, in my opinion.

Generation Golf - Eine Inspektion

Florian Illies

German: Something like the German Version of Generation X, describing the life of young German people (yuppies) in the 80ties. Compared to Coupland:
- less fiction
- less hope
- more sarcasm
which is most likely not a language issue, but due to cultural differences.

The Cluetrain Manifesto - The End of Business as Usual

Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger

The soul, meaning and heart of the internet and its implications on modern business in a nutshell. To me: my personal number one in the list of books on internet and society. The whole book can be downloaded from the website: der Cluetrain-Website
Two of my favourite quotations
- Hyperlinks subvert hierachy (das letztendlich der Anstoß für die Reservierung der Domain www.subversiv.at war)
- We embrace the web not knowing what it is, but we hope it will burn the org chart - if not the organization - down to the ground.

Slack - Getting past Burnout, Busywork and the Myth of Total Efficiency

Tom DeMarco

In a talk given by Tom DeMarco I listened to personally he said: 'Every day you do not have the chance to grow and develop yourself, is a lost day'. That is what slack is for.

Die Auster - Von der Kunst aus Schmerzen Glanz zu zaubern

Klaus Woltron

German: Thoughts on the life, the universe and everything by the Austrian entrepreneur.
After a classical carrier in management Klaus Woltron seems to have found a way to combine work, life and reflection on the basic question of human existance in a better way.

Personal website of Elke Stangl, Zagersdorf, Austria, c/o punktwissen.
elkement [at] subversiv [dot] at.