The 2020 Grab-n-Go Bookshelf

the grab-and-go bookshelf

It’s 2020, it’s fire and politics and is it time for the meteors and aliens yet season, and friends have either already evacuated for fires, or are finally sorting out their emergency packing lists for leaving their homes on foot, or by car with notice ranging from none to a day. Nothing quite so drastic here: I’ve been checking emergency supplies, was moving the book overspill pile off the floor, and it was a good excuse to fill my office shelf with the books I’d grab first. Here it is.

Probably no surprise that this is bookended by Marshall McLuhan: still the grandaddy of marketing manipulation. Some classic disinformation books (Cindy Otis’ recent book isn’t shown because it’s on Kindle — you should read it anyway), including Holliday, and Ivan’s roots (Sword and Shield); some classic intelligence, both CIA (Heuer’s classic, and Beebe with the in-your-face CIA title) and OSINT. User Experience because what is UX but the online shaping of people’s experiences and perceptions? Asperger books because we’ve really had to learn neurotypical social mechanisms just to exist in this world. Machine learning (including Cathy O’Neill’s excellent book on how it’s all gone badly wrong), hacking, obfuscation, auction theory because it helps to really understand the mechanisms (auction theory = nod to the algorithms behind the money behind advertising). Couple of personal books that can be ignored (twentytwenty bible diary, and book of Sara sent to me by dear friend who died last year). “Drawing a tree” because some life skills are just important.

Outside the bookends are objects that I’d grab too. The design sheets and posters from the first CrisisCamps that we held in London in 2010 (I’ve carried them for 10 years now); the typewriter that we tried the “slow internet project” on (a weekend of simulating twitter by typing a sentence at a time on it anonymously at a conference, creating a slow and delightful conversation); fountain pens from the same experiment, and the old projector we were going to use to simulate Instagram (with transparencies and coloured pens) but didn’t get round to.

It’s that kind of year. Last year I limited myself to just 5 books in the car at a time, but I knew I had a storage unit with boxes of them waiting for me. Over to you. If I limited you to just 30 books to take with you — which 30? What’s on your “next to your desk” shelf?

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