People frequently ask which books I like to read, so I have decided to share a few that have influenced my life as a professional. None of these books are about coding or web development; rather, they are about digital culture. This is valuable for professionals who want to think beyond coding, frameworks, and libraries.
I still find these books inspiring. I read them at different moments, and I hope that you—whether you are a professional, a beginner, or a senior—will find them inspirational, too.
1) Interface Culture, by Steven Johnson.
Johnson provides a historical perspective for the web interfaces, comparing the UI (user interfaces) to the architecture of great cathedrals of the Middle Ages.
Among other insights, Johnson highlights how architecture influences the way people interact and perceive a building. In the same manner, the way you structure the UI can change how people act with your product. In other words, the influence of the web on our daily lives and culture can be complex and profound.
2) The Unfinished Revolution: Human-Centered Computers and What They Can Do for Us, by Michael L. Dertouzos.
I love all the material produced by Dertouzos during his almost 30-year tenure as a professor at MIT. In fact, he was my inspiration to pursue some studies there.
Before the UX wave, Dertouzos advocated that we shouldn't separate computers from humanism. For him, the "digital revolution" would start only when people found using computers as natural as using an oven or refrigerator. When you use an oven, you don't think how it works; you just use for a particular purpose. Computers should work in the same way, serving us and not enslaving us. Humans— not computers—should be the focal point of the "digital revolution".
For UX people or technical professionals who want to acquire a human approach, this book is truly inspiring.
3) The Year without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work, by Scott Berkun.
This book is more relevant than ever during this disruptive time when companies are being forced to embrace distributed and remote work. One conspicuous effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it is making us question how we work.
Written seven years ago, it illustrates the feasibility of having a company where employees worked entirely remotely and are located around the world. In this case, the company was Automatic, who runs WordPress.com.
I liked this book because Scott Berkun gives an enjoyably human perspective on the topic of remote work. Berkun worked for Wordpress.com as a team manager, which means that there is a personal point of view in the book:
"Much of what bad managers do is assume their job is simply to find new things to jam and new places to jam them into, without ever believing they need to understand how the system—the system of people known as a culture—works (...) In my story so far at WordPress.com, every employee I met was smart, funny, and helpful. They’d invested heavily in tools and systems but put the onus on employees, even new ones like me, to decide how, when, and where to do their work. These attributes of culture didn’t arrive by some technique sprinkled around the company years after it started."
Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels
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