The Bedside Table Review #1

Bedside Cabinet Review

Cabinet of Curiosities (ca.1695) by Domenico Remps, held in the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence // The Public Domain Review

The Books I Read

Finally disburdened from a more or less heteronomous literature list, Amazon-book-shopping has become an integral part of my daily routine during the first weeks of PhD-life. Whilst my flatmates start grumbling about the constant parcel influx to our apartment, the growing book-stack on my bedside table gradually develops into a major security risk for my sleeping self.

“Luckily” I commute quite a while every day, what helps me a great deal getting all the reads done. I maintain this blog to give as much insights as possible to my PhD project and therefore these reviews shall serve as a log-file for mentionable books that make it from my bedside table through my mind and into the shelf. The list will range from books, which are quite closely related to my research agenda to more casual ones. Although some of the books will be in German, I list them with a short comment and try to link to an English version if available.

Recently, I read:

Market Rebels (Hayagreeva Rao)

With a highly entertaining selection of case studies, Rao illuminates how social movements can influence the triumph or downfall of products and markets. Drawn together from a series of independent research papers the book arranges  a dozen different case studies around the concepts of a “hot cause” and “cool mobilization” as phases within social movements. Ever been curious why the first car owners had to carry skyrockets or how Californian beer-aficionados repelled the attack of the Stealth Micros?

Warum haben Sie keinen Fernseher Herr Luhmann? (Ed. Wolfgang Hagen)

The great German sociologist Niklas Luhmann became famous for his extensive work towards a general theory of (social) systems. What I like about Luhmann is not only his academic output but as well the highly structured way he “produced” his countless books and essays. In this small booklet Wolfgang Hagen assembles some of Niklas Luhmann’s last interviews, which give insights to his working routines, reveal interesting anecdotes from his biography and amongst others answer the question why Luhmann – although publishing quite a lot about the mass media – had no television.

Coding Freedom (Gabriella Coleman)

Whilst her colleagues from the cultural anthropology class went out to observe the mannerisms of some indigenous community far of the large cities, Gabriella decided to hang out with the hackers of the Bay Area. For several years she met and observed members of the hacker community and tried to map out the individual and collective dynamics of Debian, the world’s largest F/OSS project. Even if you don’t have a technical background, this book takes you by the hand and guides you from the very beginnings (Stallmann & Torvalds) to the underlying beauty of well-written Pearl code.

Internet-Meme (erlehmann & plomlompom)

When I found that video of a shark-cat riding an automatic vacuum cleaner I felt deep happiness. You want to make me smile? Just send me a Grumpy Cat. I love Memes and I almost slipped of my chair when I found this book, which meticulously classifies the different shapes of memes and pulls together information from various archives and publications on individual meme-ecosystems or phenomena. However, I hope the next edition will include the Bagger 288 and finally help it to the worship it deserves.