My list of books to read is immense, and only keeps growing at a rate which outpaces my reading speed. That means there are many canonical books that I’ve never read. In the last week and a half I picked two of them off the list, and loved both.

The first, A Canticle for Leibowitz, is a wonderful science fiction book written in the late-1950s. The focus is a plausible future where humans have annihilated the vast majority of the world’s population through nuclear weapon strikes. Written knowledge, seen as the foundation for that nuclear arms race, becomes both rare and hated.

The second, Fahrenheit 451, is Ray Bradbury’s classic about book burning and the role knowledge and conversation have (or rather, don’t have) in a dystopian future society. Short read, finished in a day, but really fantastic.

Tradeoffs. Episode 36 of Ben Thompson’s Exponent podcast. I’ve been catching up on past episodes lately and this one’s really good. It focuses on the tradeoffs inherent to net neutrality considerations. If you don’t already, I’d also highly recommend subscribing to Ben’s Daily Update.

Survey fallacies

Support teams are frequently tasked with figuring out “what the customer wants” with some sort of pre-defined survey. As if a well-constructured set of questions will miraculously fix latent problems in the product.

My two cents: a survey is only worth doing if the product team is willing to devote non-trivial resources to what the survey illustrates as meaningful improvements to make. Without that commitment you’re just wasting everyone’s time.

Blue Chips. An oral history of the 1990s Orlando Magic; basically a narrative constructed through interviews with team members, executives, and people around the NBA. Interestingly designed as well.