You are not a gadget – Book Review

A great friend of mine, knowing the type of book I enjoy the most gave me this book saying: “I know you will like this one! You will want to write a book review.”. He was absolutely right I loved this book!

I often use the expression “Let’s Think about IT” (pun intended) in this blog. Indeed I believe that we too seldom take the time to think about what we are doing, reading or even thinking. In these days where speed is the key to everything and computers compute at light speed to bring us an ocean of information, thinking is kind of tacky. You are supposed to write, read and decide faster than ever. I already wrote a bit about what I think of this trend. At the time I was feeling a bit lonely but that feeling has ended since I have read “You are not a gadget” by Jaron Lanier. Jaron Lanier is definitely not taking a pre-chewed thought for a proper thought, a tweet for eternal wisdom or even a blog for brilliance. Nope, ladies and gentlemen, Jaron is taking us on the tricky path of challenging the obvious. I love that.

The back cover says: “Something went wrong around the start of the twenty-first century. The crowd was wise. Social network replaced individual creativity. There were more places to express ourselves than ever before… yet no one really had anything to say.” That sounds like a good provocative start to me!

First Impression
When taken in hand, this book doesn’t look like much. The edition I’ve got is made with lower quality paper and the cover is dull. That is far from enough to put me away from a book recommended [...]

Fear and Trembling – Book Review

For once, I will not review a technical book or a study but a fiction. Not that I intend to become a reference in literature, there are far better reviewers than I for that, but this book is well related to a topic that I often talk about: cross-cultural communication. This book was given to me by my wife who knows very well my work on communication, especially cross-cultural one. I thank her for that. It is always extremely pleasant to have people around you capable of offering you the perfect book. I would probably have missed that one, had I been on my own.

The context is the following: a young woman, living in Japan, speaking Japanese fluently and knowing the country extremely well is getting a job in a Japanese company. She is not expecting the most fascinating job on earth but she clearly intends to do her best and integrate perfectly inside the company.

I won’t tell you about the story much more than that but I will comment on how this story appealed to me. The author is describing the daily life of someone who believed she could blend into a culture because of her excellent knowledge of the language and the country. She believes that she understands customs, habits, and practices well enough to become invisible inside the group. Of course, nothing goes as planned and her journey inside the company is fascinating. She is not Japanese and it is made very clear to her that she will never be. When I say clear, I mean she understands what is not necessarily said. She does indeed know the culture well enough to get these messages, but not well enough to achieve [...]

The Story of Writing – Book review

I love the British Museum! When I go to the British Museum I always visit the book store. The book store used to be a mine of great books. It is now much smaller and quite disappointing to say the truth. Nevertheless, I bought this book at the British Museum. The title “The Story of Writing” was appealing to me as I am very interested in language and how humans have created the possibility to communicate while not in a face to face situation. When we are on a project, we often rely almost exclusively on writing for communicating. I have covered this question several times and my position is that it is totally foolish as writing was never intended to communicate so precisely in the first place. Anyway, I will stick to my topic today: reviewing “The Story of Writing” by Andrew Robinson.

First impression
When you take this book in hand you notice the weight immediately. It is made in very thick high quality paper due to the numerous photos and illustrations. When you scan it, the impression is excellent and you want to stop at every page to have a better look.
In details
The whole book is organised around sections of 2 pages: left and right. So, in a way, wherever you open the book, you are in front of an end to end story. This construction is clever as it gives to the reader a nicely manageable pace for the reading. Each topic is generously illustrated with photos, diagrams, tables and all things necessary to make the point. The range of topics covered is simply amazing. I’ll give you a few: origins of writing; sign language; pictography; cuneiform; Mayan alphabet; [...]

A Theory of Fun – Book Review

Since I have started to work with the Games industry I have been fascinated by the passion this industry is provoking. Here I mean passionate debates between people who love games and those who despise them. One side is convinced that it is pure entertainment and that killing virtual characters by the dozens, battles between heroes and evil, fighting for conquest, driving crazy cars or simulating sports is totally safe and innocent. On the other side, we can hear and read people about games saying how dangerous, destructive and addictive they can be. Curiously, on a personal level I started rather neutral on the subject. I had played a bit when I was studying computer science at University. I remembered spending a couple of half nights on stuff like Dune and waking up in the morning wondering why on earth I did spend that valuable time on that screen. Anyway, as life and business was bringing me back to Games, I intended to get another shot at it. So, I started to play again. This day, I can say that I have had a very serious go at the question and have acquired a solid experience on what games can offer to us.

This paper is not here to close the debate about how good or bad video game can be but to review a book on the topic. This book could only appeal to me with its title: “A Theory of Fun.”

First impression
The format of this book is rather unusual. Now if we think about it, from the Chief Creative Officer for Sony Entertainment, we should not expect anything too traditional. Indeed, as Raph is talking about fun, we can see from page [...]