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Blog: BTBRs Bonnie’s Twitter Book Reports

Blog: #BTBRs 2011/07/24

I have been doing “Bonnie’s Twitter Book Reports” for a few years now. I like to read. I like to discuss what I read, and learn what other people are reading. So that is why I started tweeting book reports. I figured that if I could consolidate my experience of a book to 140 characters or less, then I could share that piece with friends, and if someone was interested then we could open up a REAL conversation about it. Feel free to send me suggestions for books to add to my list via email or Twitter @bonnieholub #BTBR.

I read a variety of things. I like technology and business books. I like historical fiction. I like sci-fi. So, here is an incomplete listing of many of my BTBRs:

11/10/2011: #BTBR “Better Angles” @NYTimes Tyler Cowen writes, ”The big, smart nonfiction book of the year; nuclear weapons should get the credit”

11/10/2011: #BTBR: “Better Angels..” S. Pinker-a TOUR DE FORCE on the use of force. IMHO: everyone should read ch. 1.

10/21/2011 #BTBR M.Lewis’ Liar’s Poker – The Big Short was so good, that I HAD to read this earlier work. Satisfying as well!

10/21/2011 #BTBR: J.Egan’s “A Visit from the Goon Squad” near-future fantasy? Music industry expose? Entertaining story? All of the above, so Pulitzer!

10/21/2011 #BTBR “The Big Short” M.Lewis Ghastly account of the sub-prime market derivatives fiasco. Understandable, engaging financial analysis->scary

10/21/2011 #BTBR: Toby Lester’s “The Fourth Part of the World” which is the Americas, Oceania, and Antarctica and how they were “found” and “explored”

10/21/2011 #BTBR: PD James’ “The Lighthouse” intelligent who-done-it on a remote UK island.

10/21/2011 #BTBR: “Miss New India” by Bharati Mukherjee: Insightful-Indian call center employee’s experience from her point of view

6/6/2011 ‎#BTBR “The Social Animal” easily the best book I’ve read this century! You should read it just so you know.

6/6/2011 ‎#BTBR “Where Good Ideas Come From” S.Johnson. Innovation throughout history, and simple habits you can follow to be your innovative best.

5/9/2011 ‎#BTBR: “Bossypants” T.Fey Funny, eclectic, feminine. A LOL read.

5/9/2011 ‎#BTBR: “The Social Animal” D.Brooks @nytimes LOVING every minute of this book: philosophy, psychology, social science in a readable story.

5/9/2011 ‎#BTBR: insightful discussion of “The Great Stagnation”

5/9/2011 ‎#BTBR: T. Cowen’s “The Great Stagnation” recommended by D Brooks @nytimes and I agree. Provocative economics, short read.

4/11/2011 ‎#BTBR: The Great Stagnation, T.Cowan. My current favorite business book of the year

2/26/2011 #BTBR “In Cod We Trust” by E. Dregni, living the Norwegian dream as a grad student and new parent for a year.

2/24/2011 #BTBR “Freedom” by J. Franzen: a UofM student falls for a Macalester grad (and his roommate) life ensues.

2/24/2011 #BTBR “Made to Stick” by C&D Heath: Want to get your story across? Tell a STORY! (a lesson I’ve been learning since HS, Thanks! P Reikowski

12/20/2010 #BTBR: At Home by Bill Bryson characteristically witty, erudite, provocative exploration the place we call home.

12/17/2010 #BTBR: The Life of Pi – loved all of it! Parts are “challenging” to endure, which means it is well written since I hung on.

11/17/2010 #BTBR: Bonnie’s Twitter Book Report

11/17/2010 #BTBR: P. Midler’s “Poorly Made in China: An Insider’s Account of the Tactics Behind China’s Production Game” … be scared, beware!

10/29/2010 #BTBR “Saving Cee Cee Honeycut” B.Hoffman Cynics will say “another Cinderella.” A poignant story of a bipolar’s daughter given hope..

10/29/2010 #BTBR “The Facebook Effect” D Kirkpatrick. Meteoric growth, single-minded vision, technical, ethical and business challenges. 3.5 out of 5.

8/17/2010 #BTBR P Johnson’s “A History of the American People” Epic, enthralling, direct, thorough…. in other words, I liked it, and recommend itWatch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Downl

7/23/2010 #BTBR The Bonesetter’s Daughter … I always enjoy Amy Tan, this one included … reminds/informs me of the mom/daughter bond/tension

7/23/2010 #BTBR: A Thread of Grace – a historical novel of Jews in Italy during WWII. Makes you feel you were there (and better informed for it).

7/23/2010 #BTBR: Blood’s a rover Gritty? Check Multi-threaded? Check? Audacious history rewrite? Check!

7/23/2010 #BTBR: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Loved it, like I liked all the books in this series!

7/23/2010 #BTBR: What the Dog Saw-M. Gladwell Essays: frequently informative and thought-provoking, ALWAYS entertaining!

4/27/2010 #BTBR: David Sedaris: Live for Your Listening Pleasure … I can’t help it, he just makes me laugh, and laugh!

4/27/2010 #BTBR: Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” a powerhouse of historical fiction: intimate, thoughtful, well-researched … I can’t wait to hear more.

4/27/2010 #BTBR: What the Dog Saw – Classic Malcolm Gladwell in essay form. I truly appreciate his work.

3/17/2010 #BTBR: “Ender’s Game” part sci-fi, part management philosophy. Published in 1985, it is still fresh. from 3/5

3/17/2010 #BTBR: Ender’s Game: some thoughtful colleagues challenged me on this: I mean ENDER has an interesting management philosophy, not his teachers

3/10/2010 #BTBR: “Eventide” by Kent Haruf heartfelt, poignant (sometimes painful) story of ranchers in CO, & other people struggling to make a life…

3/5/2010 #BTBR: “Ender’s Game” part sci-fi, part management philosophy. Published in 1985, it is still fresh.

3/2/2010 #BTBR “Snowcrash” by Neal Stephenson … fine sci-fi, IRONIC after “The e-myth revisited” by Michael Gerber!

3/2/2010 #BTBR: “The Golden Age” by Gore Vidal … political intrigue in the FDR administration

2/1/2010 #BTBR: Go, Put Your Strengths to Work. I resonate with Buckingham’s “do what you’re best at!” attitude … and over apply it, dessert? 😉

2/1/2010 #BTBR: Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know About …. hmm, IMHO 40% bunk, 40% VISION, and 20% other … can’t tell which is which…

2/1/2010 #BTBR: Tara Road – Culture studies: Surely the way I think about something is how EVERYONE would think about it? Right? Maybe not?

1/11/2010 #BTBR: “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” Gives you a greater appreciation for the literary skills of Kite Runner’s author. I recommend it.

1/11/2010 #BTBR: “My Life in France” Julia Child. Endearing, entertaining and fun.

1/11/2010 #BTBR: “Shop Class as Soulcraft” …challenged my chauvinistic and pre-conceived notions of education and work.

1/11/2010 #BTBR: “The Ascent of Money” stories of how we trade and why. I liked it.

1/11/2010 #BTBR: “The Children’s Hour” … a bunch of navel-gazing by promiscuous Victorians … if you’re into that kind of thing.

1/11/2010 #BTBR: “The Help.” YES, great read. Characters earn your respect in a variety of different ways.

Blog: Innovation Clusters

I recently spoke at the Minnesota High Tech Association’s (MHTA’s) Spring Conference. I was in a breakout session on Innovation. I started with a retrospective of the last 30 years of software R&D. During that time, infrastructure and capital expenses for advanced computing have decreased and internet connectivity has increased. So we have been able to move from centralized R&D organizations to diverse, decentralized R&D. Many large organizations are using the market to resolve R&D, so instead of funding advanced research, large companies just buy surviving startups, effectively outsourcing R&D. Even government agencies are adopting this approach with the more near term, “field-able within a year” procurements. In summary:

  • The R&D Landscape has changed over time, it has moved from the domain of large industrial and academic enclaves to garages and basements.
  • Disruptive technologies have been documented and are recognized in market forces.
  • To stay competitive, large organizations need to use “technology scouts” to track disruptive technologies and stay relevant.
  • Commercialization requires nimbleness, agility, perseverance, talent, and luck.

One thing that the MHTA needs to be aware of is world-wide competitiveness. So, the most requested slide from my presentation is presented here.

Blog: Entrepreneurship Presentation

Entrepreneurship Presentation:

I recently spoke to Isac Fox’s MBA Entrepreneurship class at the Carlson School of Business at the U of M. I just love getting the chance to connect with students, and I’ve been reminded of how much energy I get from the classroom experience lately.

My message to them was simple:

  • Now is a great time to be an entrepreneur. It is a time of great technical as well as economic creativity.
  • Even if you don’t have your entrepreneurial idea yet, even if you don’t know what your company is going to be you can:
    • Get good experience at established companies. Big, successful companies are big and successful because they’ve built themselves to scale in many different ways. Learn what these are. And, learn what to expect from a professional accounting, legal, human resources, marketing, sales, etc. department, because, as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to build that or buy it someday.
    • Build your own network of professionals that you’ll be able to tap as peers, consultants and so forth. You need personal relationships with several of each: bankers, lawyers, accountants, investors. Start building that now.

Blog: It’s Interdisciplinary, Stupid.

In the last 48 hours, I have had the chance to listen to presentations from two leaders in the field of Computer Science, and I’m interested in the harmonic chords that both speakers’ presentations struck with me.

Over the weekend I attended Carnegie Mellon University’s “Opportunity for Undergraduate Research in Computer Science,” or OurCS workshop in Pittsburgh. You can see my tweets about it by searching for the hashtag #OurCS. That’s where I heard the first speaker Dr. Jeannette Wing, President’s Professor of Computer Science and Department Head, Computer Science Department, Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Wing’s thesis was that the disciplines learned and studied in the course of obtaining an undergraduate computer science degree are fundamental to studying a wide variety of disciplines. These ideas were outlined in her paper Computational Thinking, (CACM – Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, vol. 49, no. 3, March 2006). Put another way, Dr. Wing argues that many other disciplines could be illuminated by applying fundamental computer science techniques like algorithm analysis and designs, data abstraction, and heuristics. She says, “Thinking like a computer scientist means more than being able to program a computer. It requires thinking at multiple levels of abstraction.” The analytic skills taught in a computer science curriculum teach one to logically dissect a problem, construct a solution, and analyze its results in terms of how fast it will solve a problem, how much computational power it will take, and how much storage it will require. These analytic skills, she argues can inform a variety of disciplines, and should become part of the basic toolkit of educated people. It reminds me of the law school professors who told me that they like to have students with computer science undergraduate degrees because they are accustomed to teasing out the logic of a situation and thinking methodically.

Today, I heard a presentation by David Clark, entitled, “Computer Science as Social Science: The Future of the Internet.” Dr. Clark was the Chief Protocol Architect of the Internet from 1981-1989. As you can imagine, he has seen a tremendous change in his career. His talk was about lessons he’s learned in 35 years of working on the internet, and the forces that will shape the future of the internet. His point: the internet is deeply embedded in social, economical and cultural forces that will drive its future. Dr. Clark draws widely from the law, economics, and other disciplines in his talk. And he makes the point to future researchers that they should consider these influences as well.

What do I take away from all of this?

Well, I’ve been thinking interdisciplinary for a very long time. Starting with my undergraduate double major in Computer Science and English I was frequently struck by parallels across the disciplines. One example was the semester I was focusing on Shakespeare. I was reading the play “As You Like It,” wherein the original production a male actor, playing the role of Rosalind, would then take on the persona of Ganymede (a young male page) in the play within the play. At the same time, I was studying the LISP programming language in which a subroutine is called with a given value for a variable, which recurses so that the subroutine calls itself with a slightly different version of the variable, and this continues until a terminal condition is met. At the time I remember thinking, “Wow, recursion has been around for a long time, since it was clearly established by Shakespeare’s time.”

Each of these speakers, in the fullness of their mature careers, are reflecting on the role of Computer Science within the broader academic community. Dr. Wing wants us to spread the word about what we do, and apply it more broadly. Dr. Clark encourages us to broaden ourselves and learn more about the context in which we are working. I think both views are worthy of consideration, and I’m glad to be working in the field when these cross-disciplinary currents are strengthening.

Blog: Addressing STEM High School Students

2/8/2011 I spoke to about 175 STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) students in the South Washington County Schools (Woodbury, Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, MN). My message to them was:

  1. Jump in
  2. Start with the hard stuff
  3. Prepare to make the MOST difference

It was fun to connect with them, and I was delighted to receive a note from a staff person who was also a parent of an attendee. She said that her son was able to repeat my message at dinner that night. I was glad to hear that.

Bonnie Holub at Carnegie Mellon

ArcLight, Inc.’s founder Bonnie Holub, Ph.D. will be a Research Team Leader at Carnegie Mellon University’s “Opportunity for Undergraduate Research in Computer Science,” or OurCS workshop in Pittsburgh, March 3-6, 2011. Here workshop will focus on Defense Technologies:

This research project is a combination technology/entrepreneurship investigation surveying leading technologies that are in development to protect personnel in harm’s way, to determine “gaps” that exist in current technologies, and to project market needs and investment opportunities for research and development as well as ventures. In this project will we investigate current trends in military research used to protect our soldiers. We will survey current programs underway, and determine where creative approaches are lacking. We will track the success of developments, and determine alternatives. Finally, we will benchmark technologies for research or venture investment.