We’ve compiled a list of notable books from the past year that stuck out to us. Even if we don’t necessarily endorse the arguments being made in them, we’ve included them for adding some valuable insight on conversations surrounding our issues and the work that we do.
(In alphabetical order)
Consent of the Networked (Official release in January 2012)
by Rebecca MacKinnon
We're looking forward to the imminent release of Rebecca MacKinnon's Consent of the Networked, previewed through her 2011 TED Talk. MacKinnon's first book promises to provide user-oriented solutions to taking back the Internet...from governments, from corporations, and from anyone seeking to repress!
by Jason Mazzone
Much has been written about the expansive creep of intellectual property through new legislation; These are serious problems, but not the only ones in the world of IP. In Copyfraud, Brooklyn Law professor Jason Mazzone takes a different tack, addressing the problem of rightsholders diminishing fair use and the public domain by claiming exclusive rights outside of those granted to them by law.
by Misha Glenny
Official book description: The benefits of living in a digital, globalized society are enormous;so too are the dangers. The world has become a law enforcer’s nightmare and every criminal’s dream. We bank online; shop online; date, learn, work and live online. But have the institutions that keep us safe on the streets learned to protect us in the burgeoning digital world? Have we become complacent about our personal security—sharing our thoughts, beliefs and the details of our daily lives with anyone who might care to relieve us of them?
by Eli Parisier
Official book description: In December 2009, Google began customizing its search results for each user. Instead of giving you the most broadly popular result, Google now tries to predict what you are most likely to click on. According to MoveOn.org board president Eli Pariser, Google's change in policy is symptomatic of the most significant shift to take place on the Web in recent years-the rise of personalization. In this groundbreaking investigation of the new hidden Web, Pariser uncovers how this growing trend threatens to control how we consume and share information as a society-and reveals what we can do about it.
by Kevin Mitnick
Official book description: Kevin Mitnick was the most elusive computer break-in artist in history. He accessed computers and networks at the world's biggest companies--and however fast the authorities were, Mitnick was faster, sprinting through phone switches, computer systems, and cellular networks. He spent years skipping through cyberspace, always three steps ahead and labeled unstoppable. But for Kevin, hacking wasn't just about technological feats-it was an old fashioned confidence game that required guile and deception to trick the unwitting out of valuable information.
Ghost in the Wires is a thrilling true story of intrigue, suspense, and unbelievable escape, and a portrait of a visionary whose creativity, skills, and persistence forced the authorities to rethink the way they pursued him, inspiring ripples that brought permanent changes in the way people and companies protect their most sensitive information.
by Siva Vaidhyanathan
Official book description: In the beginning, the World Wide Web was exciting and open to the point of anarchy, a vast and intimidating repository of unindexed confusion. Into this creative chaos came Google with its dazzling mission--"To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible"--and its much-quoted motto, "Don't be Evil." In this provocative book, Siva Vaidhyanathan examines the ways we have used and embraced Google--and the growing resistance to its expansion across the globe. He exposes the dark side of our Google fantasies, raising red flags about issues of intellectual property and the much-touted Google Book Search. He assesses Google's global impact, particularly in China, and explains the insidious effect of Googlization on the way we think. Finally, Vaidhyanathan proposes the construction of an Internet ecosystem designed to benefit the whole world and keep one brilliant and powerful company from falling into the "evil" it pledged to avoid.
by William Patry
William Patry, Senior Copyright Counsel at Google and author of the exhaustive seven-volume Patry on Copyright, is a prominent thinker and scholar in that community. With How to Fix Copyright, he provides facts on the state of copyright today and argues for a course correction towards more evidence-based policies.
by James Gleick
James Gleick, a science journalist who's previously covered chaos theory, goes long in "The Information" on the history and theory of that field. Beginning with African tribal drums and running through computer science to the present-day Internet, Gleick points to a common thread of information as a fundamental element of the world we live in.
by Kevin Poulsen
Official book description: Former hacker Kevin Poulsen has, over the past decade, built a reputation as one of the top investigative reporters on the cybercrime beat. In Kingpin, he pours his unmatched access and expertise into book form for the first time, delivering a gripping cat-and-mouse narrative—and an unprecedented view into the twenty-first century’s signature form of organized crime.
by Tim Wu
The title of Tim Wu's The Master Switch comes from a quote attributed to a 1950s CBS executive, referring to the near-monopolies that appear at one stage in the cycle that all new communications technologies seem to go through. Wu outlines the history of some of these important modern technologies, and explores the question: is the same fate inevitable for the Internet?
by Evgeny Morozov
Though 2011 has in many ways been a year of triumphs for activists using digital tools, it has also been a year of increased repression, from crackdowns in China to shutdowns in Egypt and elsewhere. Morozov's book details the various ways in which authoritarian regimes control the Internet; though often posited as pessimistic, The Net Delusion contains lessons for all would-be digital activists.
By Miriyam Aouragh
Aouragh's book takes a look at the history of the Internet in the Palestinian territories and diaspora, showcasing examples of early online activism and highlighting the issues faced by Palestinians, from Israeli control of the Internet to communicating across borders. Palestine Online is the first book of its kind, and in light of the digital activism that pushed the Arab Spring forward, is a must-read for anyone hoping to understand the intricate usage of online networks in the Middle East.
by Lawrence Lessig
Lawrence Lessig is best known for his work on copyright reform, but in the past few years he has embarked on the new challenge of "hacking at the root" of the problem with policy: money and its corrupting effects on government. Republic, Lost represents his first book on the new topic, and it presents both compelling descriptions of the deeper problem and some creative — if sometimes far-fetched — solutions.
by Dana Priest
Official book description: The top-secret world that the government created in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks has become so enormous, so unwieldy, and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs or exactly how many agencies duplicate work being done elsewhere. The result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe may be putting us in greater danger. In TOP SECRET AMERICA, award-winning reporters Dana Priest and William Arkin uncover the enormous size, shape, mission, and consequences of this invisible universe of over 1,300 government facilities in every state in America; nearly 2,000 outside companies used as contractors; and more than 850,000 people granted "Top Secret" security clearance.
by Micah Sifry
Rather than focus on the controversies and internal strife surrounding Wikileaks, Sifry's book takes a broader focus, taking a cautious look at the age of transparency and positing that, if we have reached a point of no return, then we must consider the benefits of open governance and how to achieve them.