Austin Computer Book Club

Vote: Our May ’19 Book

Time again to pick our next book, which we’ll discuss at the May meetup! Data and Goliath is back on the slate after finishing in second place last time, plus a couple of new entries that I hope you’ll find as interesting-looking as I do. Look over these selections and rank your preference using the form at the bottom of the post! Voting closes at noon on Wednesday, April 3.

Broad Band "Broad Band", by Claire Evans

– The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet, by Claire L. Evans
288 pages, 2018, $6-$27
On Goodreads; Amazon; audiobook

The history of technology you probably know is one of men and machines, garages and riches, alpha nerds and brogrammers. But the little-known fact is that female visionaries have always been at the vanguard of technology and innovation–they’ve just been erased from the story. Until now.

Women are not ancillary to the history of technology; they turn up at the very beginning of every important wave. But they’ve often been hidden in plain sight, their inventions and contributions touching our lives in ways we don’t even realize.

VICE reporter and YACHT lead singer Claire L. Evans finally gives these unsung female heroes their due with her insightful social history of the Broad Band, the women who made the internet what it is today, [such as Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler, and Stacy Horn]. Evans shows us how these women built and colored the technologies we can’t imagine life without.

Designed For Use Designed For Use, by Lukas Mathis

– Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web, by Lukas Mathis
348 pages, 2016, $24-$38
On Goodreads; Amazon; Safari Books Online

This book is for designers, developers, and product managers who are charged with what sometimes seems like an impossible task: making sure products work the way your users expect them to. You’ll find out how to design applications and websites that people will not only use, but will absolutely love. The second edition brings the book up to date and expands it with three completely new chapters.

Interaction design—the way the apps on our phones work, the way we enter a destination into our car’s GPS—is becoming more and more important. Identify and fix bad software design by making usability the cornerstone of your design process.

Lukas weaves together hands-on techniques and fundamental concepts. Each technique chapter explains a specific approach you can use to make your product more user friendly, such as storyboarding, usability tests, and paper prototyping. Idea chapters are concept-based: how to write usable text, how realistic your designs should look, when to use animations.

Data and Goliath "Data and Goliath" book cover

– The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World, by Bruce Schneier
400 pages, 2015,
On Goodreads; Amazon; audiobook

Your online and in-store purchasing patterns are recorded, and reveal if you’re unemployed, sick, or pregnant. Google knows what you’re thinking because it saves your private searches. Facebook can determine your sexual orientation without you ever mentioning it.

The powers that surveil us do more than simply store this information. Corporations use surveillance to manipulate not only the news articles and advertisements we each see, but also the prices we’re offered. Governments use surveillance to discriminate, censor, chill free speech, and put people in danger worldwide.

Much of this is voluntary, but have we given up more than we’ve gained? In Data and Goliath, security expert Bruce Schneier offers another path, one that values both security and privacy. He shows us exactly what we can do to reform our government surveillance programs and shake up surveillance-based business models, while also providing tips for you to protect your privacy every day.

[survey closed]

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