By way of introduction, here’s what I have read over the last 12 months. I am grateful to the MBTA and the Minuteman Library Network for making this possible.
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil. Important book revealing how algorithms discriminate in education, finance, criminal justice, and more.
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble. A scathing criticism of Google for being complicit in the commodization of women’s bodies, surfacing and amplifying hate speech, and privatizing access to knowledge.
Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech by Sara Wachter-Boettcher. A design-oriented look at non-inclusivity in tech products, from insensitive smart scales to racist Instagram filters.
The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think by Eli Pariser. An older book by tech standards, this book warns of personalized recommendations leading to decreased diversity of thought and increased intellectual polarization.
Other professional reading
The Tyranny of Metrics by Jerry Muller. A critical look at relying on metrics to judge performance of people and organizations, with examples from education, health care, and the military.
Everyday Emotional Intelligence: Big Ideas and Practical Advice on How to Be Human at Work by Annie McKee, Daniel Goleman, and Richard E. Boyatzis. A collection of essays on leading with emotional intelligence, specifically the five dimensions of EI: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
Listen to This by Alex Ross. Here is a 123-hour(!) playlist of music discussed in this inspired collection of essays ranging in topic from Brahms and Verdi to John Luther Adams and Björk.
The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman. A beautiful book about bird intelligence, from complex chatter and songs, to extraordinary feats of navigation.
The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel. An wonderful example of historical science writing, telling the story of the women who observed, taxonomized, and catalogued a vast number of stars for Harvard Observatory in the 19th century.
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. A rare fiction read for me, that made me homesick for California.
everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by Jonny Sun. “look. life is bad. evryones sad. we’re all gona die. but i alredy bought this inflatable boumcy castle so r u gona take ur shoes off or wat”
The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information by Frank Pasquale – DONE!