Five Books to Change Your Perspective on Media and Technology

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In a few short years, the underlying mechanics that shape our media experiences have been completely rebuilt. Yet media technologies and the behaviors they’ve spawned are so deeply ingrained in society, and have come about so quickly, that many still struggle to fundamentally understand them.

Our media experiences — and social interactions with each other — are not simply influenced by what we see on TV, in print or in our news feeds. They’re driven by something much deeper, out of view, embedded in digital networks.

We’ve been on a journey firm-wide at Weber Shandwick to understand these dynamics to solve new problems for clients. Our collective understanding comes from first-hand lessons serving companies building media platforms, experiments with emerging tech and creating a new agency model to learn across borders more rapidly.

Understanding also comes from looking deeply at what’s driving change at a macro level. To help our collective learning, we’ve created a newsletter on technology and media that has implications for clients, agencies and people that work there. If you’re interested in checking it out sign up here.

To put headlines we’ll aggregate into context, the following books are go-to reads to decode the entrepreneurial motivations, component technologies and related culture shifts in play.

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Zero to One, by Peter Thiel — A foundational point-of-view on what drives entrepreneurs, breakthrough ideas and technology companies today. While much of the book centers on building start ups that dominate new markets, Thiel delivers a clear message for all organizations expecting to win: Unless you invest in the difficult task of creating new things, you will fail in the future no matter how big profits are now.

Radical Technologies, by Adam Greenfield — Billed as a field manual on technologies changing society, Greenfield offers a nicely structured, well written book on smartphones, connected objects, artificial intelligence, digital fabrication and more. Equal parts marveling at what’s been created and musings on challenges we can’t fully comprehend, Radical Technologies is a essential reference guide to make sense of complexities unfolding in front of us.

Fourth Industrial Revolution, by Klaus Schwab — The Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum wrote this crisp, short book on technology shifts at hand in a historical context. Fusing physical, digital and biological worlds, he summarizes how deeply technology will impact economies, industries, governments and what it means to be human. He believes the fourth industrial revolution we’re living in is more significant, and more profound, than in any period of human history.

The Seventh Sense, by Joshua Cooper RamoThe Seventh Sense is an eye opener on essential instincts required to lead in a digital age. He strongly suggests that to effectively lead we must understand how networks work and why power is moving to those building connected business models. I’ve recommended this book more than any other to make sense of media dynamics playing out today.

Life the Movie, by Neal Gabler — This is a story of how our insatiable appetite and access to novelty, gossip, and melodrama has turned everything — news, politics, religion, culture — into entertainment. Within it, Gabler uncovers an inconvenient truth driving today’s news cycles: The media seem to report less on what people actually do, and more on what people do to hijack our attention.

Have a go-to source that shifted your perspective on media and technology?

Let us know by dropping it in the comments.

Chief Innovation Officer, Weber Shandwick

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