Here’s what I have stacked on my nightstand. With a month or two lull from work travel, I might actually make it through these before the museum conference schedule revs up in the fall.
“Who Owns the Future?” by Jaron Lanier. I first read about Lanier in an article in the New Yorker a couple years ago. He is a computer scientist who delights in provoking people about the internet in general, and social networking in particular, and their impact on human culture. His last book, “You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto” was a cranky rant on the dehumanizing effect of services like Facebook and Twitter. He’s a futurist, too, envisioning the scenarios technologies could create. (He served as an advisor to the dystopian film Minority Report.) In this new book he continues his diatribe on the dangers of the Internet, taking on the exploitative potential and corrosive economy of “Big Data.” Here is a review from the New York Times if you want a preview.
Next in the queue is Marina Gorbis‘ “The Nature of the Future: Dispatches from the Socialstructed World.” Gorbis is executive director of the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, and author of the Odessa to the Future blog. (I follow her on Twitter at @mgorbis.) I suspect, comparing blurbs and reviews, that in this book she offers a counterpoint to Lanier’s dark view of the Internet, seeing it instead as a mechanism that undermines the power of large corporations and big government, empowering communities and individuals to create “distributed” solutions to societal challenges. Lucy Bernholz (my go-tweeter and blogger on issues related to philanthropy) just posted a review of this book.
I’m sharing these titles now, rather than waiting to write reviews (though I may do that as well), in the hopes that some of you may read them along with me, and share your reactions via Twitter (please tag tweets with @futureofmuseums), email, or comments on this post. And please share the books you have lines up for your futurist summer reading. Enjoy!