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Adam Trachtenberg is the Director of the LinkedIn Developer Network, where he oversees developer relations and marketing for the LinkedIn Platform. Before LinkedIn, Adam worked at eBay in platform product management and marketing. Even earlier, he co-founded Student.Com and TVGrid.com. Adam is the author of PHP Cookbook and Upgrading to PHP 5. He lives in San Francisco.

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Books I am skimming this week

I’m skimming two interesting books this week. One old. One new. One borrowed. None blue.

The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun. For some unknown reason this book showed up in my mailbox at work last week. I’m not quite sure who at O’Reilly decided I needed a copy, but I’m happy someone did. (O’Reilly is happy to send me any books of theirs I want, but I normally need to ask first.)

Right now at work I’m more focused on general management than project management, so I can’t quite bring myself to read it cover to cover, but I’ve been skipping around from place to place. Some of the lessons and tips are quite applicable, and I pretty much agree with most of what Scott has to say. He’s got a web site with a bunch of essays. Here’s one how to pitch an idea.

The Age of Discontinuity by Peter Drucker I crashed at a buddy’s house for a few days before the first FOO Camp in 2003. While there, I read selections from his collection of Whole Earth Catalogs and came across a great quotation from a book review:

Since the computer first appeared in the late 1940’s the information industry has been a certainty. But we do not have it yet. We still do not have the effective means to build an “information system….” We do not have the equivalent of Edison’s light bulb. What we are lacking is not a piece of hardware like a light bulb. What we still have to create is the conceptual understanding of information. As long as we have to translate laboriously every set of data into a separate “program,” we do not understand information. We have to be capable of classifying information according to its characteristics. We have to have a “notation,” comparable to the one St. Ambrose invented 1,600 years ago to record music, that can express words and thoughts in symbols appropriate to electronic pulses rather than in the clumsy computer language of today. Then each person could, with very little training, store his own data within a general system… Then we shall have true “information systems.”

With all the buzz about the symantec web and tagging folksonomies, I find it fascinating that Drucker started talking about the importance of making it easy to remix data in 1969. As a point of reference to frame the time, here’s another quotation: “Only now, when IBM is turning them out at a rate of a thousand a month, are computers starting to have substantial economic impact.”

Here we are, millions of computers later, and we’re still tackling the same issue.

When I stopped by to pick up Beth from work earlier this week, we ended up talking a tour of the main branch of the SF public library. While we were there, I finally got my SFPL library card. Since it was burning a whole in my wallet, I saw they had Drucker’s book, and checked it out.

With Web 2.0 (for lack of a better term) upon us, I’m convinced there’s got to be something to learn from his observations on the computer age 35-years ago. In particular, Part One “The Knowledge Technologies” and Part Four “The Knowledge Society” seem to be of particular interest.

Regardless, Drucker was right about one thing. We certainly are in The Age of Discontinuity.

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