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Picture yourself getting a masters in tech history

Exploring the top books covering different eras and perspectives of tech history

gm creators!

I hope you're having a great Saturday 😎

Yesterday, I wrote a follow up to my Byzantine post from Thursday. In part 2, I went deeper into how Bitcoin maps to the Byzantine Generals problem.

Bitcoin unlocked the ability to effectively operate a decentralized network knowing that some actors may be operating with a ulterior motive.

You can read the post here!

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Today at a Glance 👓

I've recently started reading a couple of books covering tech history. I'm surprisingly finding it super interesting to read stories from the early days of tech. There's so many parallels that I've started noticing with what's happening right now. The whole "history doesn't repeat itself but it rhymes" idea is honestly spot on.

Last week, I started doing daily posts again but I'm finding it difficult to figure out topics to write about each day. I'm beginning to realize that maybe I'm thinking about my writing too mechanically and am not focused on reading and learning enough. So, over the few days, I'm going to be extra particular about spending more hours of the day reading rather than doing surface level rabbithole. As I continue to not only increase the quantity of reading but also the quality of my reading, I'm sure I'll generate a ton of ideas I'm excited to dive deeper into for the blog.

A couple of days ago, I made a list of books on cryptography - this post is going to zoom out and cover reading material on the history of technology that seems interesting to me. Some of the books listed below were recs from farcasters and others from chatGPT.

Sections Below:

  1. Tech History "Syllabus"

  2. Active Reading

Amazon links included for all the books below!

Let's dive in 🚀


Tech History "Syllabus"

How the internet happened by Brian McCullough

  • Chronicles the rise of the internet from its early days to the dot-com bubble.

  • Highlights key figures and companies, from Netscape to the iPhone, that shaped the web's evolution.

The Code Book by Simon Singh

  • Explores the history of cryptography, from ancient Egypt to the digital age.

  • Discusses codebreaking's impact on wars, politics, and espionage.

Master Switch by Tim Wu

  • Investigates the cycle of open innovation followed by periods of corporate control in communication industries.

  • Argues that every major invention, from the telephone to the internet, faced the threat of monopolistic closure.

Founders by Jimmy Soni

  • Delves into the lives and personalities of tech pioneers and their groundbreaking innovations.

  • Highlights the trials, tribulations, and successes faced by industry trailblazers.

The Soul of a new machine by Tracy Kidder

  • Offers an in-depth look at the high-pressure world of computer engineering through the development of a minicomputer at Data General.

  • Captures the passion, dedication, and challenges faced by the engineers.

Crypto by Steven Levy

  • Chronicles the rise of the cypherpunks and their quest for digital privacy using cryptography.

  • Explores the tension between governments and those advocating for stronger encryption.

The Dream Machine by Mitchell Waldrop

  • Details the life and work of J.C.R. Licklider and his vision of a "human-computer symbiosis."

  • Chronicles the birth of interactive computing and the evolution of the internet.

The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr

  • Investigates the implications of automation and how it impacts human skills and understanding.

  • Discusses the balance between embracing technology and preserving essential human instincts and abilities.

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy

  • Chronicles the history and culture of early computer enthusiasts.

  • Highlights the passion, creativity, and vision of the people who birthed the digital age.

Dot.con by John Cassidy

  • Provides an analysis of the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, detailing its rise, peak, and subsequent crash.

  • Explores the irrational exuberance, speculation, and the role of venture capitalists, media, and Wall Street in the tech boom and bust.

Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson

  • Explores the culture and minds of programmers who shape our digital world.

  • Looks at the motivations, challenges, and worldviews of those who code.


Active Reading

I'm going to use these books as starting points to learn everything there is about tech history.

One thing I need to get better at is actively writing down any thoughts, epiphanies, or insights while reading. I tend to passively skim right before I head to bed so I'm not as conscious of my own thoughts as I'm getting through the books.

For this next week, I'm going to try experimenting by getting my reading done first thing in the morning and keeping a notebook with me to immediately jot down ideas that I want to think about more.

The goal is to build a robust pipeline of ideas while reading that I can explore and write about in The Bigger Picture.

If you have any tips on how to improve active reading, please let me know. Also, if there any books on tech history that you think I should cover, reply to this e-mail!


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