It might be known mainly for its gadgets and gizmos and some very high-level tech tattle (when you don’t have the technology, you bring on terminology), but there is also a very literary side to the tech world. Rare is the week that passes without some book covering some aspect of the tech world hitting the stands, and these are not token representatives either – Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs was topping bestseller lists for months, as was Laszlo Bock’s “Work Rules” on how the mighty Google worked. So it was hardly surprising that 2018 saw more than its fair share of bestsellers from the tech world. And as the year comes to an end, what better time to recall seven of the best literary works from the tech side:
Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley
By Emily Chang, Portfolio
In our very humble opinion, the tech book of the year. Yes, it was not strictly about technology per se, but Emily Chang’s bestseller on the “macho” culture prevailing in Silicon Valley definitely made many people take a harder, less rose-tinted look at the tech hub of the world in general and how it treated women in particular.
The book documented several instances of tech companies objectifying their women employees (meetings in bathing tubs, sex parties and more…) and shocking while this was, what was even more so was the fact that this behaviour had become not just acceptable, but even aspirational. A disturbing book, but one that shattered the Silcion Valley culture stereotype and could make the world a better place.
The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google
By Scott Galloway, Random House
Well, this book was technically out by the end of 2017, but its paperback edition was available in 2018 and we do think it was one of the most discussed tech books of the year by some distance. And that was because Galloway became perhaps the first writer to really try to figure out what made the Big Four of tech tick.
And he did not do so in the manner of a dull documentary but in a rich, anecdote-laden narrative that never felt heavy and was very accessible even to newcomers. Pretty much a must-read for anyone who wants to know how the biggies in tech work and why they succeed.
The Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley
By Adam Fisher, Twelve
It is considered by many to be the centre of tech innovation, and with good reason. But by and large, the history of what we call Silicon Valley has been defined Emily Chang, Scott Galloway, Adam Fisher, Ken Kocienda, Gary Vaynerchuk more by myth and the spoken word than the written one (Robert Cringley’s marvellous Accidental Empires is an exception, but that was written in 1995). Adam Fisher’s rather hefty tome (it is over 500 pages) is one of the first attempts to document the region. And it does so in a manner that is more rollicking and informal than documented and organised.
Want to read about how companies like Apple and Atari got their business going and the challenges they faced or how Google and Facebook spar against their rivals? It is all here, in the words of hackers, geeks, executives…this is as close as you get to gossip in print. Wonderfully entertaining, if borderline scandalous at times.
Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs
By Ken Kocienda, Macmillan
It would not be a normal year for tech literature if someone did not come out with a book about Apple. In 2018, it was Ken Kocienda’s turn with the rather delightfully narrated Creative Selection, which gives readers a peek into the product creation process in the Steve Jobs years.
Kocienda does a good job of narrating the tales behind different products, and that is hardly surprising when you consider that he himself was the man who made the iPhone’s keypad. Yes, the narration might strike some as being too one-sided, but take our word for it, there is a lot to learn and admire here from one of the key people behind the company that Thinks Different.
Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence and How You Can Too!
By Gary Vaynerchuk, HarperBusiness
Love them or hate them, but you ignore social network platforms at your peril if you happen to be in any sort of enterprise that needs communication. And one of the foremost experts on making the most of social media, be it Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest or Facebook is the wonderfully outspoken and often profane Gary Vaynerchuk. Crushing It is a follow up to Crush It, a title Vaynerchuk wrote five years ago when social networks were not the rage and influence they are today.
Vaynerchuk remains incredibly direct, however, and thankfully steers clear of steps like purchasing traffic, advocating long run plays and dedication and passion at every step. This is not really a book for someone seeking instant fame on social networks, but if you are there for the long haul, Gary Vee’s tips could just be what you need. We would go so far as to say that it should be made compulsory reading for anyone on a social network, because there is more than just commercial gain here – there is a truckload of common sense, backed up by examples galore!