5 Great Summer Reads for Technophiles

The publishing industry moves fast, but technology changes even faster. Even so, the five books explored in this article can help tech-savvy individuals keep up-to-date on relevant topics and issues today.

TechnoBooks

Stumped for ideas on what to read this summer? Consider some of these technology-oriented books that tackle subjects such as social media's ability to erode personal relationships and the future monopolization of the Internet. After you've finished some of these reads, your opinion of tech will never be the same.

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (Knopf)

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For author Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia University who coined the term 'network neutrality,' the Internet is just another industry that is fast on its way to becoming monopolized like other, older information industries such as film, telephone and radio. Wu draws upon these earlier examples of how corporations have focused their control over a new medium. This control is called 'the master switch.' So which tech companies are vying for monopolization of the Internet? Dig in this summer and find out who's on your side (and who is not).

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (Norton)

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Common perception is that social media, online research and forms of messaging are resulting in positive educational outcomes. Author Nicholas Carr disagrees and argues that the Internet may be having a negative effect on our ability to think. Carr builds his argument by looking at evidence of the Internet's impact on neurological development compared to neural pathways that are built while a person reads books. Furthermore, Carr argues that access to information online has created a 'new intellectual ethic,' a reality where sustained immersion and concentration is replaced by randomly grabbing at bits of information.

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other (Basic Books)

Are the Internet and the proliferation of social media affecting our ability to personally connect with each other? Author Sherry Turkle, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argues that this is the case. She came to this conclusion based upon her research that documented how elderly people, children and teenagers interacted with various electronic devices. However, Turkle argues that it is not too late to change the way we interact with our high-tech devices and make more time for personal, face-to-face relationships.

Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century (Polity Press)

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The announcement a few years back that Amazon's e-book sales surpassed those of traditional books places the publishing industry firmly in the beginning of a new age. Author John B. Thompson, a professor at the University of Cambridge, argues that too many people are getting hung up on the idea of the product, an e-book, and should be paying more attention to the process of book digitization. Specifically, Thompson looks at how authors, editors and agents as well as small, medium-sized and large companies are adapting to the new digital reality in publishing.

Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators (Penguin)

In contrast to many of the books on this list regarding technology, author Clay Shirky, a professor at New York University, has a positive opinion of the potential of the Internet. Shirky believes that the Internet has transformed consumers from passive subjects who watch television in their free time into active collaborators on the 'net. He cites Wikipedia as an example of collaboration that has benefited users worldwide.

Do you find yourself using Wikipedia to check up on frivolous things? Find out if the famous site is on its way to academic relevance.

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