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Myden's Book Club
September 23, 2003

What does Myden read? Does anyone care? Likely not, but I'll tell you anyways. In general, I read more non-fiction than anything else.

I like reading about science, history, and topics that I think will help shape our world. So, if anyone gives a damn, here is a list of books that I've read lately, all of which I highly recommend.

If you've read anything interesting lately, be sure to let me know.

The Next Big Thing is Really Small is an excellent introduction to nanotechnology and the impact it will have on business in the next decade. Ever heard of self-cleaning floor tiles and windows? Or mirrors that won't fog up in the shower? What about army uniforms that can "monitor a soldier's health, detect and detoxify chemical agents, heat and cool the soldier... and independently generate power so the soldier can remain in constant communication with headquarters"?

They're just a few products in development that were made possible by rapid advances in the field of nanotechnology. "Nanotechnology is, broadly speaking, the art and science of manipulating and rearranging individual atoms and molecules to create useful materials, devices, and systems." With this manipulation, products can be made with fewer imperfections and more durability, drugs can be more efficient and have fewer side effects, and energy sources can be cleaner and more cost-effective. Approximately $2 billion a year is being invested in nanotechnology worldwide in industries such as textiles, plastics and pharmaceuticals.

Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities & Software is a great introduction to a new field of science that attempts to explain how complex systems form out of simple, individual processes.

An individual ant, like an individual neuron, is just about as dumb as can be. Connect enough of them together properly, though, and you get spontaneous intelligence. Though we're far from fully understanding how complex behavior manifests from simple units and rules, our awareness that such emergence is possible is guiding research across disciplines.

Readers unfamiliar with the sciences of complexity will find Emergence an excellent starting point, while those who were chaotic before it was cool will appreciate its updates and wider scope.

Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order & Chaos is about how the Sante Fe thinktank started, and is used as a backdrop to explain how the theory of complexity started.

The theory of complexity attempts to explain the mysteries of how life began and might even predict global economic trends.

The Santa Fe Institute is an interdisciplinary think tank that has attracted the services of an electric and brilliant group of scholars. Here, economists work with biologists and physical scientists to develop theories that, many hope, will reveal that while natural systems may operate "at the edge of chaos," they are in fact self-organized.

Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution talks about how cell phones, pagers and PDAs are shaping modern culture.

It asks some highly relevant questions about how they'll reshape our social structures, what it will mean to always be connected, and what threats this technology poses to "individuality", human rights, health, and sanity.

The author interviewed dozens of people around the world who work and play with these technologies to see how this revolution is manifesting, and his findings are stirring.

This study of the potential of mobile, always on, fast Internet access nicely serves as a travelogue to the future, showing the possibilities and dangers of communications innovation.

The Art of War is the Swiss army knife of military theory--pop out a different tool for any situation. Folded into this small package are compact views on resourcefulness, momentum, cunning, the profit motive, flexibility, integrity, secrecy, speed, positioning, surprise, deception, manipulation, responsibility, and practicality.

"Invincibility is in oneself, vulnerability is in the opponent." Sun-tzu's maxims are widely applicable beyond the military because they speak directly to the exigencies of survival. Your new tools will serve you well, but don't flaunt them. Remember Sun-tzu's advice: "Though effective, appear to be ineffective."

What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business offers valuable lessons about capturing and keeping clients. Beckwith’s advice is fresh, funny, and strategic. He is a master of anecdote and metaphor whose examples range from television’s Sex and the City to nihilistic philosopher Nietzsche.