So with summer having now sped by I haven’t done a reading update in quite some time… here’s a quickie:
1. The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson
For a subject that sounds like it should completely bore you – the history of finance – this book is brilliant and, frankly, fun. It’s also timely. The financial system is so old that we often forget that it actually emerged out of something. Money, bonds, stocks, all that good stuff, it hasn’t always been around. WE of course know this, but it is great to actually be walked through how it all emerged, especially when its so wonderful told. It’s also nice to take a look at an old system, like finance, which we are now as comfortable with as the air we breath (even, when at times, it turns toxic and crashes our economy) as so much of my time is spent looking at relatively newer systems – digital networks and the internet. Lots of lessons could be drawn, especially around trust networks (something here for Shirky while he’s at Berkman?).
One additional point. I initially started watching the PBS series by the same name which is based on the book and also hosted by Niall Ferguson but was not really riveted by it. It was somewhat slow moving and lacked the historical depth and arc the book has… so if you saw the TV documentaries and were turned off, not to worry, the book is definitely working picking up.
2. How Government HR Processes are Broken
Check out this fantastic post by an anonymous public servant in Gatineau. It’s a deadly piece about how broken hiring practices are in government and how it’s unsurprising some would be driven away. It would make you laugh if it weren’t making you cry. Got this from a public servant, then after tweeting it, a bunch more noted to me how painfully true it felt to them. Sigh.
3. David McCandless: The Beauty of Data Visualization
It’s hard(er) to do visualizations without open data. Here’s some beautiful ones from England.
We are going to make a better world, nudging and learning
4. An interview with David Mahfouda and Alex Pasternack, creators of a new app for booking/sharing rides in New York
A fantastic interview about how we can share resources to get around more quickly, cheaply and efficiently by using technology. A riff off of Robin’s Chases’ ZipCar idea but its not about sharing cars, but sharing rides. This is the future of urban transportation. That is, of course, if Ontario’s bus companies don’t try to outlaw it.