Dyson: Turing’s Cathedral

The reason I started this blog was basically that I had been reading „Turing’s Cathedral“ about the life of John von Neumann by George Dyson. The reason I am writing about the book is that I am reading a biography about Alan Turing at the moment. If you add some Konrad Zuse here, you have the beginning of the digital age. I will focus mostly on the first part of the book about the invention of the digital. Whether machines will one day be able to replicate themselves will be left to transhumanism.

Dyson

“What began as an isolated 5-kilobyte matrix is now expanding by over two trillion transistors per second (a measure of the growth in processing and memory) and five trillion bits of storage capacity per second (a measure of the growth in code). Yet we still face the same questions that were asked in 1953. Turing’s question was what it would take for machines to begin to think. Von Neumann’s question was what it would take for machines to begin to reproduce.”

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Catmull: Creativity, Inc.

What Ed Catmull is really doing in his book „Creativity Inc.“ is to provide a way how to deal with creative minds. Within Pixar he establishes structures, that help creative ideas and people survive despite criticism and changes. Becoming the president of Pixar, Catmull would devote himself to learning how to build not just a successful company but a sustainable creative culture.“ The book is in his words „an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.“

Catmull

We must acknowledge the random events that went our way, because acknowledging our good fortune – and not telling ourselves that everything we did was some stroke of genius – lets us make more realistic assessments and decisions. The existence of luck also reminds us that our activities are less repeatable. Since change is inevitable, the question is: Do you act to stop it and try to protect yourself from it, or do you become the master of change by accepting it and being open to it? My view, of course, ist hat working with change is what creativity is about. (166)

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Bilton: Hatching Twitter

In most parts „Hatching Twitter“ reads like a soap. It is hard to believe how many assaults and revolutions are involved in the becoming of Twitter. The book’s subtitle is „A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal“ – and it really delivers enough stories to justify that. On the other hand, Nick Bilton’s book is a great manual when it comes to growing your community, building strategic partnerships and growth-hacking. Reading the book, you will also meet many of the key players in Silicon Valley.

Nick Bilton - Hatching Twitter

„Then there was the hashtag, the pound symbol that until then had primarily been used on telephones while checking an answering machine. On Flickr, the photo-sharing site, people sometimes used the hashtag symbol to group similar images. In one instance, people had been using Flickr to share pictures of forest fires in San Diego, California, and had started to organize the newsy pictures with a tag that read „#sandiegofire.“ Chris Messina, a designer who lived in the Valley and was friends with many of the Twitter employees, started using the same symbol on Twitter, and before long it was picked up by others on the site.“

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Silver: The Signal and the Noise

Nate Silver is the wunderkind of American media. On his blog FiveThirtyEight he managed to predict the outcome of the last US presidential election with a precision never seen before. Silver bases his estimation on the works of Thomas Bayes and his „Essay towards solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances“. Silver’s success with this approach is astonishing and casts a shadow on the work of political pundits and experts. In “Signal and the Noise” he explains how he does that.

Silver

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Wu: The Master Switch

There is a lot of talking about Berlin being the next Silicon Valley. Many point out that you can’t compare the two and refer to the amount of Venture Capital or the academic system in the Bay Area. There is another aspect: infrastructure and government legislation. In „Master Switch“ Tim Wu points out how innovation was blocked and supported by monopolies and more what it means today with data monopolies such as Google and Facebook. How possesed the master switch now and then…

Tim Wu

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