A great post from my friend and valued colleague, Espen Andersen. I love this for several reasons:
- I’ve always loved J.S. Bach‘s music – there is a mathematical and emotional beauty to his work that shows how structure and order can be emotionally rich and innovative. (Refuting nicely the belief by some that structure and order are inherently dry and lifeless!)
- It shows how creative use of video can be a great teaching aid – with this particular piece you can learn about the canon form and the Mobius Strip.
- It reinforces what a rich source of useful and inspirational material YouTube has become!
Going to YouTube to get the link pointed me to lots of other fascinating stuff about Bach, Palindromes, Mobius transformations, et al. Check out this piece, for example, on my favorite Bach work – his Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. The video animates the piece with a “piano roll” graphic (familiar to anyone who uses Midi editing software). For those wanting to learn the music, understand its form and structure, or just have an interesting image to follow while listening to this splendid work, it’s another great example of all the wonderful stuff out there on YouTube and available for free!
Image courtesy of JSBach.net/bass ©2007 (unpronounceable) Productions
My esteemed colleague Espen Andersen posted today on The Technology Canon - “a list of books that you have to read to consider yourself knowledgeable – or, rather, educated in the classical sense – within a field.” His criteria include, “the book must have stood the test of time, to be relevant even though the technology has changed (and, consequently, a book that I will occasionally re-read)…” and “its lessons apply outside the technology it discusses, which is another way to say that it will be readable by non-technologists.”
Espen is a fascinating character – I have frequent opportunities to interact with him as we collaborate on multi-company research into IT topics, and I’ve learned much from his insights and broad knowledge. I’m quite excited with his ideas for this Technology Canon – as much for the debate and dialog it will create, as for finding books I should have read, but have not (so far!) For example, Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach is the first book he mentions. This is a book I pick up every year or so, thumb though, and place back on the bookshelf – intimidated by its girth and depth. Espen, I will try again, I promise!
The second on his list is Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book I read when it first appeared in 1975, and now re-read every few years. It was one of the few books that not only changed my thinking on so many things, it changed my behaviors in ways which I believe have been to my great advantage.
Anyway, I repeat Espen’s “brief start, just off the top of my head” list below, then add a couple of my suggestions. I hope you will all chip in with additions, deletions, and perhaps some arguments as to why some belong in the Technology Canon, and why others don’t.
- Gödel, Escher, Bach: An eternal golden braid by Douglas Hofstadter
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
- How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand
- A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
- Turing’s Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age by J. D. Bolter
- The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder
- The Mythical Man-month by Frederic Brooks
- Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
- The Control Revolution by James Beniger
- Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation by James Utterback
- The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton M. Christensen
- Consciousness Explained by Daniel C. Dennett
- The Wealth of Networks by Yochai Benkler
- The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World by Lawrence Lessig
My “top of head” additions:
At Home in the Universe by Stuart Kauffman
Enterprise Architecture as Strategy by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill and David C. Robertson
Structure In Fives: Designing Effective Organizations by Henry Mintzberg