Subject: Re: Summer reading
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Sat, 29 Oct 2005 20:03:32 -0700
Sat, 29 Oct 2005 20:03:32 -0700
on Mon, Aug 29, 2005 at 04:15:55PM -0700, Chris DiBona ( wrote:
> Chris
> On 8/28/05, David N. Welton <> wrote:
> > 
> > As the summer draws to a close (rather prematurely here in Italy), I
> > thought it might be interesting to conduct a survey of this list to see
> > if anyone has any recent reading to recommend. I'll leave the subject
> > matter open, although of course some relevancy to this list, presumably
> > our common interest, would be a bonus.
> > 

> I reread peopleware, and thought it rocked. Not free software, but ,
> you know, awesome. 

The odd bit is that that book was one of several which got me steered in
the Free Software direction.  Actually, the first was a somewhat
forgettable Yourdon tome, though it pointed the way to others.  Steve
McConnell's  Code Complete  (now in a second edition though I've not
read it) was the watershed, and I  still  highly recommend reading it to
understand the technical model behind most successful Free Software
project architectures.

I've just (today) picked up my on-order copy of Steven Weber's  Success
of Open Source .  It's been relatively well recommended, though I found
the first chapter's reiteration of the Coca Cola metaphor (secret
formula) to be tiresome.  Coke's not a formulation, it's a brand and
marketing strategy.  Which itself might be a valuable lesson....

I'll suspend judgement on the rest of the book until I've had a chance
to read it.

I'll point again to my Free Software Primer page which has some standby
faves (including  Code Complete  listed among the reading list):

My other late summer / early fall reading has largely oriented around
Neil Stephenson, books 2 & 3 of The Baroque Cycle,  The Confusion  and
 The System of the World , and Thomas P.M. Barnett's  The Pentagon's New
Map .  The careful reader may note that neither of these is particularly
concerned with matters of software, free or otherwise.

Still, Stephenson's a good general read, and his latest cycle concerns
much of the foundations of modern enterprise and monetary systems, told
with considerably more appeal than the more usual studies of this field.
They're books of ideas and times of violent change, which I think
indirectly help to gain a perspective on what's happening closer at
hand.  Plus they're a damned good read.

Barnett's book is one I picked up after hearing him in a speech
broadcast on radio.  He's essentially arguing for a new structure for US
military forces to address terrorist and other asymmetric threats.  Both
the substance of his suggestions and the process by which he's come to
develop and promote them are interesting.  Barnett is a maverick, his
methods tend to be somewhat similar to those of some Free Software
projects.  He's also describing a situation which might arguably be
applied to both the supporters and opponents of Free Software.
Supporters as it's likely asymmetric methods which are in part deployed
against us (e.g.:  FUD, SCO-esque legal attacks, "Barkto"-style forum
pollution), and opponents in that diverse Free Software projects are in
a large way an asymmetric threat, without a single center to attack.
Plus he uses Princess Bride to make points, which can only be good.

The other useful aspect of Barnett is to understand the government (and
in a larger sense, any organization) and its decisionmaking process.
How ideas emerge, how to sell them, how to gain support for a concept.
We're going to be doing that still, for a time, and there's much useful
instruction here.


Karsten M. Self <>
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
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