Resolve to Read One of These Books This Year

"miss my pencil", IDEO

Recommended reading by Develop3D editor Al Dean: I Miss My Pencil

It’s that time of year for resolutions, predictions, and lots of Top 10 of 2010 lists! The Engineer out of the UK recently shared their Top 10 Technologies from 2010, including amazing innovations for medical like 3D printing for soft-tissue organs and brain implants. I agree the iPad has set the template for  a new style of personal computing. It has certainly impacted communication, gaming and learning – and that’s just in the context of my home. The impact on engineering and manufacturing will certainly play out more this year.

One of our customers, Carl Fink, pointed me to the Top 10 Dumbest Tech Predictions of All Time. It has some amazing quotes and reminds us that even the telephone, computer, TV and airplanes were thought at one point to have no future or value.

So to inspire us all to think big in 2011, let’s hear from some of those in the know. I asked some editors, analysts and bloggers for some feedback on recommended books and apps as well as any predictions for this year. Since they had quite a bit to share, I’m breaking this up Deelip-style into a 3-part post for easier reading. Let’s start with some recommended reading.

What’s the best book you read in 2010?

Branden Loock of Precision CAD recommends Everything by Design: My Life as an Architect by Alan Lapidus. “Autobiography style book written about his experiences designing architecture for various people, including Donald Trump and various members of the mob.”

Al Dean of Develop3D recommends I Miss My Pencil by IDEO’s Kara Johnson and Martin Bone. “Quite simply awe-inspiring masterpiece for anyone even vaguely interested in design, culture or social trends.” He also recommends The Places in Between or Occupational Hazards by Rory Stewart. “The first details his walk across Afghanistan shortly after the fall of the Taliban – yes. Walk. The second details his time trying to rebuild a functioning infrastructure and society in Iraq. I chose both of these because they show that there’s more ongoing in the world than worrying about social media, PLM and all that stuff we obsess about.” Last but not least he recommends Zero History by William Gibson.

Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity recommends “The Blogosphere (not a book, the real thing).” His response was indicative of many who bypass traditional hard copy books for online reading.

Blogger Scott Wertel said: “Books?  Who has time to read books?  I read really cool trade journals like Develop3D. But, since my wife got me a Kindle for my birthday, I have downloaded and started reading a couple books depending on the mood I’m in.” As for the most engineering related from his current collection, he recommends Hyperspace by Michio Kaku, “a great theoretical physics book without all the theoretical physics: time warp, faster-than-light travel, worm holes, string theory, good stuff.” Scott also recommends The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. “I saw the series on TV and couldn’t get enough of it, so I bought the book to fill in what the show didn’t have.” On the lighter side, Scott recommends Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh, noting “a buddy and I are still planning on going into the micro-distilling business.  There is a lot of engineering and chemistry that goes into that art form.  I need to study up on the classics.”

Monica Schnitger of Schnitger Corp. notes: “I actually find myself reading lots of RSS feeds from business types/entrepreneurs/engineers/etc., so my book reading for business has dropped off a cliff. Most interesting work-related book I read was probably Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. It’s not really new thinking but talks about winning new markets by doing things differently, approaching them a unique way, rather than by cutting costs to offer the cheapest priced widget identical to someone else’s. Good example cases about innovation.”

Kenneth Wong of Desktop Engineering recommends Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by David Sobel.

Gary Mintchell of AutomationWorld recommends Linchpin by Seth Godin and The Future of Management by Gary Hamel. You should read Gary’s recent blog post on Social Networking for Automation Professionals, an interview with Jon DePeitro – a leader in the International Society of Automation.

Josh Mings of SolidSmack suggests: The art of the garden: collecting antique botanical prints as an “interesting, unusual and a look at that style of art over the centuries.” Also, “Sarah Susanka books are a good look into small and stylish in the home. The not so big house and the not so big solutions for your home have some cool ideas on interior design.”

Allan Behrens recommends Selling the Wheel and Wired magazine.

Luc Poulin of Solid DNA also noted he’s part of the electronic generation so doesn’t read hard copy books. He gets general updates at Engadget and Popular Mechanics. He also recommends Solid Edge-specific resources like the GTAC discussion forums and LinkedIn Group.

As for me, I have also gone to consuming more literary content online in shorter soundbites vs. traditional book form. I did enjoy I Miss My Pencil and agree with Al that it is inspiring. One book I reread last year was Radically Transparent. I recommend it for organizations first considering or entering the social media space.  It’s a couple years old but introduces you to the basics. (BTW, it’s now available for Kindle so you can read it online). For daily/weekly online reading, I peruse my Twitter lists for PLM/CAD media and analysts, the big PLM industry list and my social media list. There are always some links to great reads in that mix.

Stay tuned for part 2 on recommended apps. And please leave a comment with your favorite read of 2010.

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