Reading To Some Purpose

…and that purpose is “Keep Leigh Away From The Computer”. Getting a bit fed up with programming and web surfing recently, so I decided it was time to pick up my reading habit once more.
Here’s where my paper-surfing has been taking me. In case you’re interested.

Have recently finished:

  • Gibson’s Pattern Recognition: excellent as always. I flirted with this for a day or two as I knew it’d totally draw me in. I was right. The themes reminded me a bit of an Iain Banks novel towards the end, particularly the story behind “The Footage”. May post some musings about “Apophenia
    at some point. See also: “Synesthesia
  • James Gleick’s Faster really does surf through “the acceleration of just about everything” and makes for some thought-provoking reading along the way. The phrase “we are surrounded by ephemera” particularly resonated.

I’ve just picked up The Meme Machine by Susan Blackmore. I’m going to be interested to see what she makes of the theory. I first encountered the term in one of Richard Dawkins’ books (I forget which). I’m hoping that Dawkins’ enthusiastic foreword isn’t indicative of Blackmore’s approach: I tend to find Dawkins to be too reductionist and I don’t think that viewpoint properly credits the power/utility/benefits of emergent properties in the phenotype. Mind you I’ve not kept up with his recent work so maybe his ideas have evolved along these lines.
Directly in the queue behind these are Small World, one of the plethora of popular science books on network theory that have cropped up recently, and Impossibility which just looked like an interesting read.
I also have Semiotics for Beginners (full-text available online, but I bought the book because I’m a Nice Man…and a luddite); The Pursuit of Oblivion; David Attenborough’s biography, “Life on Air“; and The Number Devil, which have all been languishing on the shelf for a while, so I’ve dusted their covers and promised them I’ll read them soon.
I’m also trying to decide whether I’ve got the energy to read A New Kind Of Science and/or The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. The latter is probably the more likely candidate as I’ve enjoyed Gould’s other books and my interests have recently been returning to biology, ecology, neurology, etc. The stuff that absorbed me during my first degree (started 13 years ago now, eek!). Unfortunately there’s not a great deal in computing (in general, not just books) thats exciting me at the moment. There’s a lot of “more, faster” but not a lot of “different”, if that makes any sense.
Book recommendations gratefully received. (See told you I was a luddite. Book recommendation engines? Pfah!)

2 thoughts on “Reading To Some Purpose

  1. I too am working through a real copy Semiotics for Beginners – taking me *ages*. Interesting insights as I’m falling asleep, by morning forgotten…
    re. Richard Dawkins – I think he’s just got too much of a chip on his shoulder about religion, makes him seem as bad as the bible-bashers. What’s more his arrogance annoys me intensely. (I’m well arrogant and basically atheistic, btw).
    Recommendations? – not had anything new recently, read Cory Doctorow’s book on me Palm, which was fun. Currently back into Caroline’s Philip K. Dick anthologies, also good fun.
    I’ve only skimmed A New Kind Of Science in the bookshop – I want to read it, but I’m not entirely sure it should have that “New” in the title.

  2. Mr. Dodds,
    I knew you only as an xml expert and as a technical writer for, but I am glad to find out that you are big on reading. Since you’ve been asking for it, I’ll mention some books that are in your interest areas. I like them and I think you might enjoy reading them as well. The Symbolic Species talks about the co-evolution of brain and language and has an ecological approach to the problem. The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other is a book about encounter, about understanding an alien civilisation, about semiotics.
    Stefan Chis

Comments are closed.