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Upgrade your holiday reading with these 5 tech books

Peter Krass's picture

by Peter Krass on 12/22/2021
Blog Category: advanced-technologies

Taking time off between the holidays? In between bouts of playing Minecraft and binge-watching “Succession,” it’s also a great time to catch up on your tech reading.

Here are 5 books — all but 1 released in the last 12 months — that will bring up your holiday reading a notch or two.


Play Nice But Win: A CEO’s Journey from Founder to Leader

By Michael Dell (Portfolio/Penguin, 2021)

Play Nice But Win by Michael Dell

Yes, that Michael Dell — the founder and CEO of Dell Technologies. The one who started what would become a multibillion-dollar business from his college dorm room. And the one who had to battle to keep the company going 30 years later.

In this business memoir, Dell recalls his mentors, competitors and enemies. And recounts the story of one of tech’s unlikeliest yet also biggest successes.

Free excerpt: “The year 2005 dawned bright for Dell Inc. Apart from the blip of the dot-com bust five years earlier — a correction that affected not just us but tech companies across the board — Dell had enjoyed a pretty uninterrupted run of growth in revenue and profits and cash flow for two decades.”


The Cold Start Problem: How to Start and Scale Network Effects

By Andrew Chen (Harper Business, 2021)

The Cold Start Problem by Andrew Chen

The author, a former Uber exec and now a general partner at VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, focuses here on what he calls the “dreaded cold start problem.” What’s that? Basically, the difficulty of getting a new software startup company to scale.

The solution is the “network effect,” which essentially means the more users you can gather, the more valuable your product or service becomes. Think of the way Google dominates search, Amazon dominates online retailing, and Spotify dominates music streaming, all with huge numbers of users. How does a startup do this? That’s what Chen explains in his 400-page tome.

Free excerpt: “Network effects are embedded into many of the most ubiquitous and successful tech products around us, in different variations. Products like eBay, OpenTable, Uber and Airbnb are examples of marketplace networks, comprising buyers and sellers.”


NFTs for Dummies

By Tina Laurence and Seoyoung Kim (For Dummies, 2021)

NFTs for Dummies

No, you’re not a dummy, but come on, do you really understand nonfungible tokens? If not, and you’d like to, this book is for you. Like all titles in the longstanding “For Dummies” series, the book offers a straightforward explanation that assumes little or no pre-knowledge of digital investing.

Topics you’ll learn about include: how NFTs work, how to be sure you’re dealing with reputable buyers and sellers, how to find safe marketplaces, and the kinds of digital properties that can be converted into NFTs. Oh, yeah, and what “fungible” actually means.

Free excerpt: “Think of dollar bills, shares of Microsoft stock, and Bitcoin — each represent a defined set where items within the set are fungible. Put simply, we don’t care which dollar bills we receive as long as we receive the right quantity, since each dollar fulfills the same purpose and obligation as another.”


Becoming a Data Head: How to Think, Speak and Understand Data Science, Statistics and Machine Learning

By Alex J. Gutman and Jordan Goldmeier (Wiley, 2021)

Becoming a Dead Head by Alex Gutman and Jordan Goldmeier

The authors, a pair of data scientists, want to help you become a data head — someone, that is, who thinks statistically, understands machine learning and AI, and accurately interprets data.

Free excerpt: “Many of us have been part of projects that went on too long. When expectations aren’t clear before the project starts, teams wind up attending meetings out of habit and generating reports no one bothers to read. Asking ‘When is the project over?’ before the project starts can break this trend.”


Snow Crash

By Neal Stephenson (Random House, 2017)

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Okay, this isn’t a new book; originally published in 1992, it’s a cyberpunk sci-fi story to boot. But you want to learn more about the metaverse, right? Well, Stephenson is they guy credited with being the first person to use the term, and this is the book where he did it.

Pick up this novel, and get ready for one wild ride. The story somehow combines VR, Sumerian myth, and a pizza-delivery dude who’s also a warrior prince in — wait for it — the Metaverse.

Free excerpt: “The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed sub-category. He’s got esprit up to here. Right now, he is preparing to carry out his third mission of the night. His uniform is black as activated charcoal, filtering the very light out of the air.”

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