Lessons in History

This year I’ve focused my business reading on the back-stories of the internet and social media  – here’s what I can recommend (they’re all terrific)…


In The Plex
Steven Levy

The Year Without Pants
Scott Berkun
The Everything Store
Brad Stone
Steve Jobs
Walter Isaacson


Hatching Twitter
Nick Bilton
You Are Here
Hiawatha Bray
The Master Switch
Tim Wu
Automate This
Christopher Steiner

My 13 Fav Web/ Social Media/ Whatever Internet Related Books of 2010

NB: These are recommended books that I read throughout 2010, which is not necessarily the year in which they were published.

Marketing in the Age of Google: Your Online Strategy IS Your Business Strategy
– Vanessa Fox

Forget the SEO smoke and mirror brigade – you need to approach search from a more important marketing perspective. This book shows you how to do that. After all, you won’t be able do anything really great online without the fundamental search principals kicking in behind you.

Building Findable Websites: Web Standards, SEO, and Beyond
– Aarron Walter

A solid reference material for anyone about to get involved with a website build. The disturbing thing is how many sites are still being built without their searchability as an integral consideration.

How Wikipedia Works
Phoebe Ayers, Charles Matthews, Ben Yates

I had previously thought that Wikipedia was a lawless Wild West style environment – and now I know it’s not. There are evolving rules and you need to know them before diving in.

Get Content Get Customers: Turn Prospects into Buyers with Content Marketing
– Joe Pulizzi, Newt Barrett

I’ve been on the content marketing bandwagon for some while, but GCGC crystallised some of my thinking around the subject – especially their use of historical, off-line examples.

Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
– Steve Krug

Not sure why it took me so long to get round to reading this, but I’m oh-so-glad I finally did. I now consider this to be one of a handful of essential first reads for anyone getting into online marketing and communications.

Cognitive Surplus
– Clay Shirky

Cognitive Surplus affected a subtle switch in my thinking: I had been observing online social activity from the perspective of ‘what’s happening?’  – I should have been asking ‘why is it happening?’

Search Patterns
– Peter Morville & Jeffery Callender

I’ll never look at a set of search results the same way again. I now see search engine optimisation for what it really is: the peudo-science of exploiting deficiencies in our ability to gather, categorise and display information properly. One day SEO will be a dead marketing concept.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
– Seth Godin

Strong personal affirmation as to why I left my salaried corporate job to start up my own business. There’s no going back now…

The 4-Hour Work Week
– Tim Ferriss

Convinced me of one thing more than anything else: the value of outsourcing. As a result I now make extensive use of graphic designer based in Poland. It’s a start and yes, it works.

Confessions of a Public Speaker
– Scott Berkun

Laughed my pants off! If you speak in public a lot it’ll do you good to share the pain of a seasoned and kindred talking-head.

I Need a Killer Press Release–Now What???: A Guide to Online PR
– Janet Thaeler

A quick read full of simple and highly effective advice – I’ve used several of Thaeler’s online press release ideas over the last year to great effect.

Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust
– Chris Brogan, & Julien Smith

Despite being too long by 50 or so pages Brogan & Smith achieve a good balance of practical advice, with the larger concepts of pay it forward, online karma, community buy-in, etc, etc.  What’s old is new again: trust and ‘local’ reputation.

Read This First: The Executive’s Guide to New Media from Blogs to Social Networks
– Ron Ploof

If you’re getting push-back for your online and social media ideas at work, Read This First. Ploof’s been there and see that – forewarned is forearmed.


Business Model Generation – Osterwalder & Pigneur

Gamestorming – Gray, Dave, Brown, Sunni, Macanufo, & James

The Future of the Internet – Zittrain

Content Rules – Handley & Chapman

The Master Switch – Wu

Remix – Lessig

You Are Not a Gadget – Lanier

The Dragonfly Effect – Smith