Book Club

I’ve been meaning to pull together & curate a list of books that shaped my thinking but I keep forgetting.

Here’s this books thread so that I remember.

Post book recommendations.
Don’t post books others told you to read but you haven’t yet
Don’t post all books you’ve read
Post favorite books & books that most shaped your worldview.
Try to post a short snippet on why you like it so much/how it affected you.

Will be used to build a wiki :slight_smile:


Thinking in Systems, by Donella Meadows

This book is wonderful. It gives a broadly-applicable conceptual framework for understanding systems in terms of their leverage points and inter-relationships. This is a very powerful perspective, once you see it you can’t unsee it. People focus on symptoms and outcomes when they could be changing the feedback cycles that drive those symptoms and outcomes.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

This book is an engaging conceptual tour of all of human history, and the key relationships, dynamics, and concepts that have shaped it. It’s a book that weaves together things like agriculture and transition out of hunter-gatherer lifestyles, the development of language and political systems, how capitalism and the scientific revolution fueled each other, etc. For me, the most valuable insight from the book was to realize the extent to which our reality is “intersubjective”, i.e. that reality which comes from the shared subjectivity of people in shared social constructs. Think things like Google, or America, or Christianity – these are all intersubjective realities which have shaped human history. Capitalism is an intersubjective reality. Our challenge is to design a better one.

Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital by Carlota Perez

Less of a page turner than the other two, but still super interesting. It shows what the world looks like at the end of an exhausted paradigm (lots of inequality, disappointment, resentment–sound familiar?) and the process by which new techno/socio/financial paradigms are born. It involves a mixture of technological revolution (a dramatic new disruptive technology) and a speculative financial bubble. The two go hand in hand, the speculative bubble fuels enough attention and R&D to get the technology to viable scale; without that support, it would not be able to displace the existing paradigm.


+1 for Sapiens

Doughnut Economics - Kate Raworth

A great book debunking a lot of the “old economics” ideas, and proposing how to move forward.
Out of all the “let’s change the world” books, probably the most based in science.
She also praises graphical explanations aka memes, as demonstrated by the unforgettable doughnut.
(On which our navigation system is based)

Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed - James C. Scott

Starts with a historical look into measurement of anything of value and the formation of states.
Proceeds by examining a lot of large scale attempts at “changing the world” and how they failed. From USSR to centrally planned villages in Tanzania. A must-read for anyone playing with fire.

The Penguin and the Leviathan: The Triumph of Cooperation Over Self-Interest - Yochai Benkler

Just finished reading it today. Loved it.
While Yochai is better known for “The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom”, I found this one way more enjoyable to read.
From successful collective ownership of grazelands and factories, to Wikipedia, Linux and all of that. Explains the game-theory behind how to make it make sense to cooperate & avoid the tragedy of the commons.

Social Architecture: Building On-line Communities - Pieter Hintjens

Talks about building communities, and especially in the open-source software development context.
HIGHLY recommended. If you’re in open-source, you should probably know about C4 (collective code construction contract), maybe the best guide for successful open source collaboration at scale?
The whole book is of course open-source but you should at least consider paying tribute to his family :slight_smile:

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups - Daniel Coyle

Great book on what makes successful teams successful. Spoiler: trust, safety & purpose.
Here’s all the lessons from the book, basically.

These two cliches:

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

A must read for any hairless monkey trying to survive future shock. All about cognitive biases, no need to explain it further as you’ve probably seen this name countless times.

Skin in the Game: The Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Another one not needing introduction. This one is my favorite of the five, and if you’re wondering which one to start with; it doesn’t really matter.

Other notable ones

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? - Seth Godin

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win - Jocko Willink

The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy - David Graeber

Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups - Jason Calacanis

spoiler: it’s about the team, not the technology.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos - Jordan B. Peterson

Aaaand this utopian novel:

Walden Two - B.F. Skinner

That should do it for now :joy:


More Than Two - A practical guide to ethical polyamory

Now hear me about this one, this is really a book about building a community, or actually about building a family.


Here are the ones I xref in the MetaGame Manifesto. My gamification takes excerpts and amongst the quests, you pick up
“Scraps of a draft manifesto - at first glance, it looks like the ramblings of a deluded bunch of cryptoanarchists (along with psychelic line sketches on the back). You think about how [Big Brother] government has nurtured you with [Little Sis] internet services provided for free so why worry about building a new infostructure?”

(successive revelation) :partly_sunny: as you pick up more scraps, it becomes more illuminating :sunny: “Scraps of a draft manifesto - the several pieces you’ve collected seems to have a vague pattern. The writers seems to be objecting to something, exactly what is not clear, but they want to turn the world into a game like Matrix? Humph, hippie coders drinking their own koolaid … fantasy is only for those who can’t handle reality”. until finally they complete and get the secret link to next stage.

  1. Interlude: Crisis Cascade
    Satyajit Das (2011) Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk [0-132-79019-X]
  2. Brave New World
    Dick & Ruth Foth (2017) Known: Finding Deep Friendships in a Shallow World [0-735-28975-1]
  3. Web of Opportunity
    Thomas Friedman (2007) The World is Flat: Further Updated & Expanded 3rd ed. [0-374-29278-7]
  4. Web of Life
    Charles Eisenstein (2011) Sacred Economics: Money, Gift and Society in the Age of Transition [1-583-94398-6]
  5. Feedback Loops & Gamification
    James Surowiecki (2005) The Wisdom of Crowds:Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations [0-307-27505-1]
  6. Fostering Autonomy and Mastery
    Dan Pink (2011) Drive; The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us [1-101-52438-3]
  7. Disconnect in the Digital Realm
    Johann Hari (2018) Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression [1-408-87870-4]
  8. MetaWorldview: Stepping outside the rat race
    Mike Berners-Lee (2019) There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years [1-108-33594-2]
  9. MetaFam: A new digital collective
    Safi Bahcall (2019) Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries [1-250-18597-1]
  10. Why now?
    Nicholas Carr (2008) The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google [0-393-06228-7]
  11. Closing: Investing in Your Future
    Alan Kay (1984) Inventing the Future, in The AI Business: The Commercial Uses of Artificial Intelligence ed Patrick Winston & Karen Prendergast [978-0-26-223117-6]

Since I specialise in tech (IP law) whist the technological revolutions and phases of exploitation are accurate, the missing point is participation and SOCIAL capital. The industrial revolution we predicated on a commercial (Lex Merchant) and agarian freeing up enough labor to do the grunge work. As process accelerated, you broke down the feudal structure and create new distribution cum markets with railroads. People underestimated electrification (3rd breakthru) as once you got motors small enough, they completely replaced the pneumatic system allowing elaborately transformed manufacturing. We are in relative material abundance so with Internet we have entered (at faster than 50-60 cycles) the attention economy, sharing economy (web 2.0) and now starting phases of experience economy (3D, semantic search, tokenised network access). The reason why previous cycles tapped out is because they hit limits in either supply or complexity. We can break this by

  1. educating more of world population, increasing supply of talent,
  2. enable more coordination outside the traditional firm/market, and
  3. engaging those marginalised giving them the opportunity to participate

So whilst the book is a nice recap of past, you can shape the future differently to avoid the bottlenecks and enter a virtuous cycle of productivity -> leisure (play) -> innovation and back to productivity again. The social capital in the leisure/play phase is more than you can imagine if it is educated-engagement and not netflix-sophoria

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Welcome @mikeki, a forum is where members engage in discussion, debate and occassionally dissent. So whilst the book may be about building a family, if you step back and look at the pure biological aspect, polygamy only fits in (read Robert Spolsky) in post-conflict situations where the male:female ratio is lopsided. If you apply the same reasoning, in a normal society, it inevitably creates tension/aggression as social structures lead to permanent power imbalances and resentment. Where your book might be useful is in current blended families where you might had kids from previous marriage(s) and you need to build a more cohesive unit. Arguable the nuclear family from the west is not working but population controls (eg single child in China) is destroying extended families so it is all in a stage of flux … hopefully before the intergeneratonal frictions grow (google inheritance impatience).

Hello @drllau, I understand your concerns about polygamy, however this book I’m recommending is not about polygamy, it is about polyamory. We are all polyamorous and we don’t even know it. Do you love your parents? Do you love your kids? Do you love your partner? Do you love a best friend? That’s polyamory.

I invite you to read the book I’m suggesting, you will probably be surprised by it.

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And in addition Future of Capitalism

Originally I only intended on reviewing this book, but ended up drawing out all that seemed useful and summing it up:


The Value of Everything

Some key takeaways are the degree to which major technological innovation is seeded by government R&D , and that conventional measures like GDP in the national accounts do not do a good job of distinguishing between value creation and value extraction.

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I recently read The Starfish and the Spider The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations

It was pretty amazing and really emphasized the power of decentralization. The analogy of MGM fighting p2p torrents and The Spanish being able to overthrow the Aztec capital in 2 days because they could walk in and cut off the head of the spider (Montezuma) but a leaderless group like the Apcahe’s remained unstoppable for 400 years. Alcoholics Anonymous work because no one is in charge. It is easy to dismiss people in control but not as hard to dismiss your peers. Metagame is as strong as we make it. Decentralization and the ability for anyone to jump in and help out is one of our greatest strengths! Thank you to fellow MetaGamers for helping to provide positive examples to follow in our crazy world. I wouldnt want to take over the world with anyone else!

It is a fast and easy read but very powerful.

I think of the other great parts about the book is it breaks down how a decental organization forms, the key players such as the catalyst and champion

Defining why and who make a decentral organization successful was the powerful part.

I also started making it a habit to read every night before bed. I have so many books to read and so little time. Reading before bed helps me align my sleep rhythm because the time aware from the screen and good info feeds my brain. When I feel the call to sleep I am already there.


Just finished sapiens before I found metagame. Sets the stage quite well. Love when books fit well with real life

Check out the Libby App by overdrive or hoopla for free audiobooks from your library.

I’ve been on a positive (growth-oreinted) psychology kick. Here are my favorites:

  • Transcend, Scott Barry Kaufman - building on the hierarchy of needs from maslow. Great framework for evaluating and improving your satisfaction with life
  • Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt - great practical lay-of-the-land of psychology. Really useful psych and philosophy stuff at a high level
  • Grit, Angela Druckman - details what the work ethic and perseverance personality traits really are and how to improve them for yourself. Good mix of practical and research
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Anyone got any new book suggestions? I’ve been considering picking up a copy of Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Oldie, been a while. Seems relevant.