Recommended Reading: the theory of disruptive innovation, the curse of Xanadu and more

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Recommended Reading: the theory of disruptive innovation, the curse of Xanadu and more

Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.

The Disruption Machine
by Jill Lepore, The New Yorker

There's a lot of different theories about how markets evolve, but that of disruptive innovation has proven quite popular over the last several decades. But if you ask Jill Lepore of the New Yorker it's an incomplete theory. While it's more than capable of explaining why businesses fail it doesn't really account for more complex changes. It's not like the theory of evolution, it's merely "an artifact of history." But it's still an interesting prism through which to view everything from the shift to 5.25-inch floppy disks to the downfall of the American auto industry.

Q&A with Larry Lessig on Why You Should Have Faith in Silicon Valley
by Nitasha Tiku, Valleywag

Larry Lessig is certainly one of the more interesting figures in technological activism. He's a Harvard law professor with a hand in everything from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to the Free Software Foundation, and the Sunlight Foundation (plus countless other organizations. In this Q&A he talks about why he still has faith in Silicon Valley.

The Curse of Xanadu
by Gary Wolf, Wired

In 1960 Ted Nelson started building Xanadu, a massive project built around linked documents and hypertext. Yes, that hypertext that formed the backbone of the world wide web. An unfortunate series of events kept the project from actually being completed until this year. In this classic Wired story the history of the doomed project is recounted in painful detail.

Dr. Nicholas and Mr. Hyde
by Bethany McLean, Vanity Fair

The tech industry has more than its fair share of eccentric billionaires and out of control CEOs. But according to federal prosecutors, Henry Nicholas of Broadcom was a special case. The story involves financial maleficence, drugs, prostitutes and a secret lair under his Orange County mansion.

The Robots Running this Way
by Will Knight, MIT Technology Review

Before robots learned to run they first needed to learn to walk... and crawl... and hop. And, of course, DARPA and Boston Dynamics have been at the forefront of that research.

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