Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Subway Art: 25th Anniversary edition by Cooper & Chalfant

Rating 6 out of 10
This book has some quite extraordinary photos. Those can be credited Martha Cooper, she was working for the National Geographic, and National Geographic makes excellent photos! Well she started hanging out with the ethnic minorities (brave girl!) in New Yorks seedy neighborhoods in the 70's and 80's and documented the birth of modern grafitti. Quite an extraordinary example of the very right person at the right place. Apparently she just did it for the fun of it, not realizing the her photos would be worshipped by writers (Grafitti artists) all over the world forever! The drawback of this book is that it has too little text, it could be interesting if the authors also had documented the birth of grafitti in word!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Nigger of the Narcissus by Joseph Conrad

Rating 6 out of 10
This book was titled "Children of the Sea" in the American edition. It's a quite good book, some what the form of it falls in between a novel and a shortstory. It tells the tale about the rough life at sea on a ship with sails! It's moving to hear about these sailors out on open sea, their lives depend on eachother, then they reach the destination and split up never to see eachother again. Perhaps the most memorable part of the novel is when the ship enters the dirty dark industrial city of London, after life at the merciless but fresh sea, Conrads description of London is almost Dickens like in its somber visions.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Maigret and the Killer by Georges Simenon

Rating 4 out of 10
This is my second Maigret book. Simenon seems always to be a good read. This is a man who knows his metier. In this book the social indignation of Simenon seems to surface quite explicit, since Maigret feels quite much compassion towards the murderer, seemingly more than with the victim. It's quite amazing to me how undeveloped and backwards the France of Simenon is, the man obviously felt a need for improvement of the country. One bad thing about this novel is that Maigret seems to be too familar, friendly and understanding with the murderer, it's not quite credible.

The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Rating 6 out of 10
This is an ok book, it tells the story about Duras affair as a young teenager, with an older Chinese man. During the account Duras changes between past and present tense. She also sometimes write about herself as "I" and sometimes in third person, I haven't really figured out why she makes these changes. The matarial of this book one supposes could actually be developed into a real moving novel, I don't know why Duras kept the story in this short form. Perhaps she was lazy? As it stand now it somewhat has a sketchy form, which perhaps is ok? But I think I would have prefered if she had made a longer and more elaborated novel out of the material. And those inconsistencies I mentioned in the start (about past and present tense and I account and third person) Well maybe the book would have been better without those litterary experiments?

Monday, February 15, 2010

We the Living by Ayn Rand

Book review. Rating 8 out of 10.

This is a fine book which goes on in Petrograd, in the early days of the communist state. It describes the hardship of former bourgeosie returning to live in Russia after the revolution. Ayn somewhat indirectly portays human characters greater than the common mold and describes the difficulty they find to succumb to communist ideology, which doesn't favor the existence of strong outstanding individuals.The weakness of the novel is the plot, more precisely the actions of the characters, some of their actions seems not rational to me. There is the communist Andrei who gets Kira's (the main character) boyfriend imprisoned, but then he changes his mind and get's him out of prison again and become a spokesman for Ayn's philosopy before he commits suicide. Petrograd is a moving city and Ayn has many nice descriptions of it, especially at winter time. It's also very interesting to witness an insider view of the early years of the communist state. Even during communism bribery apparently was rife.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The social network business plan : 18 strategies that will create great wealth by David A. Silver

Book Review. Rating 8 out of 10

This is a quite interesting book, about the future and business perspectives of the social media revolution which we are witnessing. The very big concept which Silver is prophesizing, is that in a very short time, 2011, we will see a massive rise of a type social networks which Silver terms as "Recommender Social Networks". This is a social network where consumers share information about goods, in the form a Rating, Reviewing and Recommending. According to Silver this type of social network will have an absolutely massive influence upon todays business model: Today the brands control the consumers via advertisement and marketing to buy the goods they produce. But in the future the recommender social network will use the collective ratings of their members to guide the consumers as to what to buy. The result of this shift will be an increased power to the consumer and a lowering of prices (because advertisement today is a considerable expense and with the rise of the recommender social network, advertisement and marketing will loose it's controlling power). In the future the recomender social network will be the place to introduce new products. As examples of recommender social networks which are already here Silver mentions http://www.yelp.com/ and http://www.angieslist.com . Silver also comes with tricks about how to start a succesfull social network. The trick is to be a pain solver for a group of people, he come with some examples from the medical world, there is http://sermo.com/ which allows doctors to share information, but at the same time the owner of network sell the anonymized conversations of the doctors to the medical companies. Another examples is http://www.patientslikeme.com/ which allows patiens to share information. There is really, really many money to be made in social networks, actually it is by large much of the money used in advertisement and marketing today which instead will flow to the social networks!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Yellow Dog by Georges Simenon

Book Review. Rating 4 out of 10
Now this book,being from 1931, must belong somewhat to the adolescence of the detective novel genre. It's actually an ok read. The setting for this crime story is rural France, that is the fishing town Concarneau on the Bretagne coast. The dick of Georges Simenons books is called Maigret and he is actually quite cool. He is a strong self-willed character, who refuse to take any crap from his surroundings, and seems alive and kicking even today. Embedded in this book is also a social criticism. The book drew a picture for me of early 20th century France, which was somewhat surprising to me. It's evident that if you are a prominent person, rich, factory owner, or the mayor of Concarneau, then you can get away with things the small people can't get away with. In terms of bribery, camaraderie and manipulate the authorities. This is things we would expect from a developing country like Turkey, Philippines or Russia, but apparently it was also like that in France at that time. Anyway I shall not disclose the plot here, just know that Maigret cuts through all the conventions and nail the crooks! Also the book has even got a touch of the creepiness Poe.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Book Review
Rating 2 out of 10
I must admit I was a little bored with this book. Of course it properly has some litteray qualities, which the litteraty people dig, but my god, some of the books these people like, especially the contemporary ones, I just sometimes find absolutely and utterly endless boring! Well apparently Beloved is a ghost. The setting is some black guys who are slaves in the middle of the 19th. century. What I also found boring about this book is that these black guys don't really seem to be going anywhere. Admittedly, it's properly hard to live an inspired life if you are a slave, but anyway... So in this book, this ghost Beloved appear from time to time and otherwise the book descripe the everyday life of the black people. As said they don't really appear to go anywhere, so the book is much about what they do in their daily life, like having dinner. I think it is something like 10 times during the book that their meals are described. A somewhat surprising reference coming to mind concerning this book is the Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata. Belowed has some of the same indirectness in the language as Yasunari Kawabata employ in his book Snow Country. I think the greatest strength of Beloved is the poetic and rhythmic language. I guess the author has a musical talent, so perhaps I would have enjoyed her more if she had employed her talent in music rather than litterature.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Twitter! - massekommunikation på 140 tegn by @nfsaxberg and @webjay

Book Review
Rating 8 out of 10
This book is so far only in Danish. It's a great little book about Twitter. I like the production story about the book. The 25.th of March 2009 the Editor of the printing company woke up and got the idea to the book. Immediately he contacted the authors and they started to produce the book right away. The great message of the book is that the social media revolution has changed our world, the target group for the book is mainly companies and business people and its telling them that they better take things like Twitter and Facebook seriously. In the old times the companies would produce a website and hope to attract the costumers to it. In the social media era the companies need to come to the costumers, and where are the costumers? Well they are at the social media. So the book encourages business people to take Twitter very serious, because it's really something the businesses can benefit from, both in terms of sales and customer feedback. The book suggests that the companies should react to the customers instantly. By some searches on major Danish phone companies the authors demonstrates that the Twitter users are already discussing the companies. The book then recount some cases, where companies have reacted instantly on customer talk on Twitter. There is the glasses shop Synoptic which witness a customer complaining about the prices, which prompts Synoptic half an hour later to offer a rebate to the customer. Then there is the coffee shop CoffeeGroundz which one minut after a tweet from a customer reacts. The good thing about this kind of interaction is that perhaps you can suddenly get a lot of good PR if the news about it spread, that the event goes viral. It seems like the authors already work with business consulting, there is quite a lot talk about strategy, optimisation, innovation and all the rest of it. That particular part of the book I must admit I at times found a little tirering. But all in all a fun book. One should think that they could sell this book to other countries too. Right Now!

Nostromo by Joseph Conrad

Book Review
Rating 3 out of 10
This book is about South America around 1900. What is happening is that the area is being developed by foreign investments from Europe and North America. So we see the rise of mining, they want to build railway and the telegraph is drawing it's lines. The central character of the account is Nostromo, he is some kind of Che Guevara or Prince Myshkin like character, but eventually he is corrupted by the greed for wealth like everybody else. The best thing about the novel is Conrads ability to build the environment with a graphical textuality and presence. The style of the novel is the grand epic tale, it seems like Conrad has been inspired by the great Russians, for example Tolstoys War and Peace.