Reading Corner

This page is designed to honour our sources of insight and inspiration.  There are some writers who deserve to be more widely read, and some essential thinkers who demand to be taken seriously.  Some urgently topical material is filtering far too slowly into the common domain, while some vital material from the past has been unjustly put aside.  Many writers are put in boxes, misunderstood and trivialized.

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Jacques Derrida
Larry Hirschhorn
Kevin Kelly
Peter Marris
Nano McCaughan & Barry Palmer
Terry Winograd
business and organization studies
component-based business
component-based development
data management
project management
systems thinking
Christopher Alexander
Albert Borgmann
Jon Elster
Jacques Lacan
Bruno Latour
Lewis Mumford
Sir Geoffrey Vickers
Jerry Weinberg
Gregory Bateson
Humberto Maturana
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Jon Elster. Alchemies of the Mind - Rationality and the Emotions

Cambridge University Press, 1999.

alchemies of the mindFor at least two decades, one of Elster's goals has been to undermine and enrich the simplistic notions of rationality and choice found in economics and political science, and this is the latest of many books displaying his unique combination of rigorous analysis and poetic sensitivity, In this book, he analyses such phenomena as the transformation of one emotion into another, the guise or disguise of emotion, self-deception, and the complex systems of motivation and self-esteem. He draws on moral philosophers from Aristotle to Le Rochefoucauld, and takes many examples from literature (especially Jane Austen).

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Bruno Latour. Aramis or The Love of Technology.

Translated by Catherine Porter. Harvard University Press, 1996.

aramisA brilliant, original and stylish book, by a deep and thoughtful writer. Describes and analyses the twists and conflicts of a typical R&D project.

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Jacques Derrida. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression.

Translated by Eric Prenowitz. University of Chicago Press, 1996.

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Albert Borgmann. Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A philosophical inquiry. University of Chicago Press, 1984.


An excellent study of technological change, already a classic, which makes Heidegger's ideas on technology surprisingly readable. Borgmann introduces what he calls the device paradigm, in which technological progress increases the availability of a commodity or service, and at the same time pushes the actual device or mechanism into the background. Highly recommended.

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Kevin Kelly. Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World

UK edition is published by Fourth Estate, London, 1994.

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Kevin Kelly. New Rules for the New Economy: 10 ways the network economy is changing everything.

US edition Viking Penguin. UK edition Fourth Estate, London. 1998.
A systematic analysis of the strategies for successful business in the new world. This is the open, distributed, connected, chaotic world he described in his previous book, Out of Control.

New Rules for the New Economy is a much thinner volume than Out of Control. It explores some of the business paradoxes of the Internet, and turning the Nine Laws of God into a more practical set of rules-of-thumb for being successful in a networked world. Think of it as a pattern language for e-business.

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Two excellent books published at around the same time, tackling similar issues from quite different perspectives.

Larry Hirschhorn. Reworking Authority: Leading and Following in the Post-Modern Organization

MIT Press 1997

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Peter Marris. The Politics of Uncertainty.

Routledge 1996

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Nano McCaughan & Barry Palmer. Systems Thinking for Harassed Managers.

Karnac Books 1994

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. . .

Addison-Wesley kindly sent me three books - two standard texts on patterns, and the following one on design.

Terry Winograd et al. Bringing Design to Software.

ACM Press and Addison-Wesley 1996

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This page last updated on March 6th, 2002
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