Summer reading for digital minds
Make the most of your summer downtime, by curling up with one of these great books that explore our digital future — and its consequences.
August is here — and with it the promise of some time off. It doesn’t matter if it’s a voluntary or enforced staycation, or a trip further afield, everyone needs a little time to disconnect and recharge — especially after the 18 months we’ve all just lived through.
Sure, you might spend some of that time curled up with a trashy novel, but you wouldn’t be part of the NEXT community if you weren’t hungry for deeper thoughts and challenging reading. And so, we had a brief discussion around the (virtual, distributed) office, to suggest some books that have caught our attention in recent months, which you could add to your summer reading list.
Your summer reading list
Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live
The impact of the pandemic and, in particular, the way it has accelerated trends already in progress has been a regular subject on this blog over the last year. This book explores similar issues, but at book length — and from an American perspective. It’ll help open your mind to both the challenges and opportunities ahead.
The Great Demographic Reversal: Ageing Societies, Waning Inequality, and an Inflation Revival
Several of our speakers on the NEXT show this year have explored some demographic and family changes that will affect businesses and product alike. If those ideas intrigue you, spend a few days with this book that looks at the implications of those changes from a truly global perspective.
The Future Leader: 9 Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade
Martin has written extensively about the need for a new style of leadership. So, it’s not a surprise that he’s recommended this book that seeks to help redefine the qualities of a great leader for the next 10 years. And they’re not the ones you might expect.
Neues wagen: Deutschlands digitale Zukunft zwischen den USA und China
One for the German readers: Germany (and the rest of Europe) have to find a way to stake out their identity between the tech superpowers of China and the USA. The authors seek to chart a path towards a fresh vision of digital sovereignty and a more forward-looking tech.
Social Warming: The Dangerous and Polarising Effects of Social Media
Charles Arthur’s forensic examination of the impact of the social media platforms on society moves far beyond the usual criticism, to dig deeply into the mechanisms both social and technological that are creating issues. And through that examination, we can see a path towards both regulating and competing against these behemoths.
The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis
Once we are past the pandemic, recent weeks have made it very clear that we’re facing another crisis: climate change. Unlike many books of this type, this book paints both a picture of the dark future if we don’t act — and the bright one if we do. A good example of giving people a positive vision to work towards, not just a scary future to avoid.
Four Futures: Life After Capitalism
While the politics might not be to everyone’s taste, this book explores possible futures, from an admittedly left-leaning perspective. The specific futures are of themselves interesting and though-provoking, but what is more interesting is this style of “what if…” storytelling, exploring possible visions of the future.
Catching up with NEXT show speakers
Were you inspired by the talks from some of our expert speakers for our online show through the year? Here are three recent books that explore their work in much more depth:
Albert Wenger: The World After Capital
Wenger’s book looks at how ages are defined by scarcity, from food through to capital. But the age of capital scarcity is being replaced by the age of capital scarcity, and the consequences of that could be massive.
Amy Webb: The Big Nine: How The Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity
Amy is one of the leading thinkers on the implications of some of the big technologies coming at us fast. In this book, she sets out to help us avoid the mistakes of the last two decades by thinking proactively about the problems these emergent technologies could create.
Douglas Rushkoff: Team Human
The pandemic has forced many of us into screen-mediated lives for over a year. That experience has reminded us just how inhuman much of our technology can be. Rushkoff’s book is an extended plea for us to recenter technology on humans, rather than the tech itself.
If you manage to get through that lot, several more of our speakers have new works hitting the (online) stores in the near future. Here’s what might help you through the late summer:
- Eliza Filby is launching a podcast in September. She’ll be exploring the relationship between generations in a series of interviews — very much the kind of topic she explored in her talk for us.
- Azeem Azhar’s book Exponential is also out in September. He explored exponential issues with us earlier in the year.
- Ben Sauer is writing a book on secret design skills — and maybe you can contribute…
And, of course, we’ll be posting our normal thought-provoking questions about the digital future all through the summer. Do sign up to our newsletter to be alerted to our latest posts.
Have a great summer.