I’m reading a couple of books at the moment:
Thinking About Cybersecurity
This is actually a course by professor Paul Rosenzweig. It’s a more objective and academic view on the size and open nature of the Internet and all threats that come with that model.
How Google Works
A book by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg about lessons they learned as they helped build Google. It’s mostly about company culture, internal processes communication and innovation.
When Google Met WikiLeaks
A transcript of the interview Julian Assange and Eric Schmidt had in 2011. Assange shows impressive understanding of internal workings of the web, but also uses commentary in the book to incriminate Google’s leadership for non-transparent involvements with the US government.
Common themes are security, privacy and communication. Reading books with different takes on the topics allows me to see different perspectives and doesn’t let me slip into one narrow, potentially limiting, mindset.
Assange often cites The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business by Schmidt and Cohen, which I read last year. It shares more topics with When Google Met WikiLeaks than How Google Works. One thing I clearly remember from The New Digital Age is how much space was dedicated to cyberterrorism. If I pulled the gist from my memory, it would go like this. As more and more things move to the web, an online identity becomes even more important and will be frequent target for cyber attacks. It’s up to private sector and government to work together and protect it. I understand how a person in Assange’s position might find that worrying.
On the other hand, in 2012 I read Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. The authors say exponential improvements in technology are positive and will eventually solve all, or at least most, problems we face today: diseases, deteriorating environment, hunger, education, energy needs.
Most of these books are forward looking so it’s really hard to tell which scenario will prevail. Nobody can predict the future after all, but even then it’s good to be aware of forces which pull in different directions. Always read, explore and keep an open mind.