The Timeless Way of Building
Oxford University Press, 1997
This is the original book by Christopher Alexander that started the pattern
movement. It is actually a very insightful book and the world "timeless"
should be taken very seriously. Ideally you would like to fill your brain
with information that does not become out-of-date with the next release of
Microsoft Windows. Object and design are indeed technologies that will be
with of for a long time. Here is one of my favorites quotes from the book:
We have a glimpse, then, of the fact that our world has structure, in the
simple fact that certain patters of events - both human and nonhuman - keep
repeating, and account, essentially, for much the greater parts of the events
with happen there.
The Bit and the Pendulum: From Quantum Computing to M Theory-The New Physics of Information
If you are looking for a very readable book on the hot topic of information
theory I would strongly recommend this book. Tom Siegfried is a gifted
journalist that nurtures strong personal relationships with the leading
theatrical physicists in the world. He uses these relationships to get insight
into creating a clear layman's explanation for a variety of topics from the
nature of computing, the brain, consciousness, quantum mechanics, quantum
computing, relativity, string theory and black holes. He has numerous insights
from his interviews with great physicists like John Wheeler who coined the term
"It from Bits". Siegfried also introduces us to some lesser know information
theorist that deserve recognition for their insights into information theory.
Siegfried is one of a rare group of people that cares deeply about creating a
clear layman's (non-mathematical) explanation of important topics to people that
are interested in science and the nature of the world around us. I would rank
this book with Ray Kurzweil's book "The Age of Spiritual Machines" as highly
recommended for people interested in information theory and the future of
How the Mind Works
I became interested in how the mind works as part of my research into the topic
of "the conscious web" or how the world wide-web will eventually evolve to become aware of itself and the world around it.
I asked the question "what is consciousness?" and I
figured out Pinker's book was a good place to start. Ray Kurzweil also quoted
Pinker frequently in Kurzweil's book "The Age of Spiritual Machines" which I
also loved. So although I just started with a single question I learned a lot
more then I thought I would. I really appreciated Pinker's efforts to explain
the mind as a series of interconnected processing units, where each processing
unit needed to be understood from an evolutionary basis. He calls this "Natural
Computation" and the concepts are very useful in explaining many aspects of the
mind. I learned not just about models of consciousness being a model of the real
world in our own brain where we exist in that model but also about topics like
raising kids, dealing with family issues, emotions and the
biological/evolutionary basis of love.
The book has been researched very well. This book has excellent notes and a
large list of references for further reading.
My only criticism about this book is that Pinker sometimes draws on an
unnecessarily large vocabulary, making his points difficult to understand in
some parts. A little stronger editing might have helped here. How often do you
use the word "palimpsest" in ordinary conversation? This is good if you want to
expand your vocabulary but painful at times.
But all-in-all Pinker has done a great job explaining how the mind works. The
title is correct.