Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution

Steve Jobs had told Google that if it included multitouch on its phones, he would sue, and true to his word he sued the Nexus One maker, HTC, a month later in Delaware Federal District Court. More noticeably, he began seeking out public opportunities to attack Google and Android.

A month after the Nexus One was released – and days after Jobs announced the first iPad – he tore into Google at an Apple employee meeting.

“Apple did not enter the search business. So why did Google enter the phone business? Google wants to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them. Their ‘Don’t Be Evil’ mantra? It’s bullshit.”

In Dogfight, Wired’s Fred Vogelstein tells the unseemly history of your treasured/ hated smartphones and tablets. It’s a whistle-stop tour of the astonishing technological revolution that makes the pre-iPhone world of 2007 seem so very long ago, and also an insight into the future of media: who will control content and where it will come from.

Featuring testimonies from the inner circles of two of the world’s most influential companies, it is a fascinating, damning document for anyone enthralled by The Social Network or Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs.

There’s business bravado, corporate hair-pulling and screaming matches between engineers frazzled from all-night coding sessions. One Apple employee slammed the door to her office so hard that the handle bent, locking her in – it took colleagues an hour and some aluminium bats to free her.

Have a read and you’ll never look at your phone the same way again.

Click here to buy Dogfight from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

THE GOOD LIFE: What makes a life worth living? (Guest Blogger – Hugh Mackay)

Hugh Mackay, psychologist, social researcher and writer, blogs about the basis of his wonderful new book The Good Life.

What comes to mind when someone says ‘the good life’? Comfort and prosperity? A chance to cash in your chips, retire to the coast and put your feet up? A life enriched by the love of your family and friends? A life where dreams come true?

How about a life lived for others, a life devoted to serving the neediest members of society, or a life of self-sacrifice? Those are equally valid ways of interpreting ‘good’ – giving it a moral spin rather than an economic or emotional one.

Given our society’s current obsession with feel-good definitions of happiness, and the damage we’re inflicting on our kids by teaching them that self-esteem is their most precious possession, it’s not surprising that our minds tend to leap to self-serving interpretations of ‘good’. This, after all, is the Age of Me – an ugly blip in our cultural history where competition usually gets more marks than co-operation, and self-interest is rated more highly than self-sacrifice. Look after Number One! – that’s the slogan we like to chant. Winners are grinners! and ‘loser’ the ultimate insult.

But that’s not the whole Story of Us. In a civil society, where most people are quite interested in upping the goodness quotient in their lives, we can learn to tame (not slay, just tame) the savage beast of self-interest. Yes, we humans can be ruthlessly competitive, aggressive and violent, but we have nobler impulses as well: we’re also the kind of people who fight off a shark to save a mate; jump off a river bank to rescue a stranger; return a wallet full of cash, anonymously; help a frail person cross a busy street; defend the victims of prejudice; volunteer to take refugees into our homes.

Deep within us, we know the survival of our communities – the survival of the species itself – depends on paying more attention to that insistent message that comes to us from every religious and moral tradition of East and West: treat other people the way you’d like to be treated. (Some people find the so-called Golden Rule makes more sense in the negative: never treat others in ways you would not like to be treated.)

If we fall for the idea that the good life is only about having a good time, or ‘doing well’, or even being ‘happy’ (in the superficial emotional sense), our moral compass is bound to wobble. As I say at the end of the book: ‘No one can promise you that a life lived for others will bring you a deep sense of satisfaction, but it’s certain that nothing else will.’

Click here to buy The Good Life from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Hugh Mackay is a prolific and well-known social researcher, writer and commentator in Australia. A newspaper columnist for over 25 years, he is now an honorary professor of social science at the University of Wollongong, the author of nine books in the field of social psychology and philosophy and five novels.

Review: Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East by Benjamin Law (Review by Catherine Horne)

I first became acquainted with Benjamin Law’s writing in the pages of frankie magazine several years ago and he has since become one of my favourite Australian writers. So when a copy of Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East turned up at the Booktopia office I acted like a deranged fangirl and declared that I must – MUST! – review this book. And, unsurprisingly, my instincts were proven right. This book is an illuminating exploration of an issue that does not normally get a mention in discussions of Australia’s engagement with Asia, and Law provides some valuable insights into the nations he visits.

In Gaysia Law becomes our enthusiastic guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) experience in seven countries: Indonesia, Thailand, China, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar and India. In each chapter Law generally focuses on one or two specific examples from the country at hand (for example, gay conversion therapies in Malaysia or a beauty pageant for transsexual women in Thailand), and uses this to explore the wider issues of gay acceptance in that country. This approach works well as Law is able to gain great insights from the people he interviews, and this makes for a very warm and engaging work. To his credit, Law does recognise that his approach does not encompass the totality of LGBT experience and he cannot provide a sweeping analysis of homosexuality in Asia. The work does not suffer because of this; the greatest strength of the book is its focus on personal stories as this provides an opportunity to engage with people who, for the most part, would have otherwise remained invisible to us.

Each nation Law takes us to throws up a different set of issues, and he makes clear the ways in which the social, cultural and political norms of a particular country influence the ways in which queer sexualities are perceived and experienced. For example, Law discovers that gay personalities are everywhere on Japanese television, but are expected to behave in a way which essentially renders them as figures of entertainment; they are drag queens with wicked senses of humour, or super-camp gay men with biting social critiques (basically think of the campest gay stereotype that you can, add a vat of glitter, and you’ve got what Law is describing here). While the visibility of certain types of queer identities is positive in that it at least shows a superficial acceptance of homosexuality, the absence of others, particularly lesbians, hints at a deeper lack of acceptance or understanding of LGBT issues in Japanese society.

In stark contrast to Japan is Myanmar, a country struggling with an exorbitantly high HIV infection rate for gay men (where they are 42 times more likely to contact HIV than their counterparts in any other country) and woefully inadequate resources to cope with the crisis. Further, the grinding poverty, lack of education and geographic isolation prevalent among Myanmar’s citizens means that many may never gain access to the life-saving drugs they need. The contrast between Japan and Myanmar not only demonstrates the varying challenges that people of different backgrounds in Asia face; it also gives the reader a valuable insight into the society and culture of each nation.

For me, Gaysia did not only provide a fascinating insight into the experiences of LGBT people in Asia, but into the broader social and cultural structures of each country. In the chapter on Malaysia, for example, Law provides a sense of the multiplicity of religions, their regional concentrations and the roles they play in Malaysian society. This ability to ground each chapter in a broader context really strengthens the work and provides yet another reason why this book is so valuable. Law recognises that in each country deeply ingrained historical, cultural and political factors influence the ways in which queer sexualities are regarded, as exemplified by gays and lesbians marrying each other to stave off parental pressure in China or the existence of a ‘third sex’ in Thailand. Law demonstrates the unique circumstances, and difficulties, that each nation’s gay population faces in their struggle to find a place in their societies.

Gaysia is an absolutely fascinating book, and I have gained so much from reading it. There are many heartbreaking stories of familial rejection, of hiding identity and, overwhelmingly, of feeling invisible. Yet there are also stories of resilience, happiness and love. Gaysia is a book with human experience at its core, and these stories are wonderfully brought to life through Law’s vivid documentation of his quest through the queer heart of Asia.

Review by Catherine Horne

Click here to buy Gaysia from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

REVIEW: The Office: A Hardworking History by Gideon Haigh

The following is a short excerpt from an excellent review of The Office by Gideon Haigh in The Sydney Morning Herald, entitled…

Under the white collars
by Jose Borghino

…. Haigh is also an elegant stylist and the opening chapters, because they rely so much on visual art to represent the early history of the office, have the same confident zip and sparkle as writers such as Robert Hughes and Simon Schama at their authoritative, breezy best: ”In one 11th-century Byzantine codex, St Gregory of Nazianzus has his feet on a footrest, his work stored in a doored cabinet and his eye fixed on a bookmount that might almost be a flatscreen monitor … The St Jeromes of Jan van Eyck (c. 1435) and Domenico Ghirlandaio (c. 1480), propped on their elbows over bulky texts, even look a little bored.”

This familiar tone and formidable range of reference is enhanced by The Office’s beautiful production values. There are images everywhere – mostly in black and white – sometimes breaking up the text or occupying the outer margins of the page.

The first half of The Office is an exhilarating sweep through history, outlining the inventions and technology that have made the modern office possible.

Haigh is particularly good on architecture, especially the rise of the skyscraper. But he also devotes considerable space to the development of the elevator, the telephone, airconditioning, the typewriter, email and the cubicle. (There are also asides about staplers, water coolers and the pencil with attached eraser.)

Haigh romps through four millenniums of history with gusto, but always with a journalist’s eye for the telling anecdote and the memorable character…

The Office is not a populist book – it’s too long and too complex for that. But neither is it a dry, academic tome – it’s too well written and engaging. Read more…

Click here to buy The Office from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. Online Book Shop

The Office:  A Hardworking History

by Gideon Haigh

The office: for many of us, it’s where we spend more time and allocate greater effort than anywhere else. Yet how many of us have stopped to think about why?

In The Office: A Hardworking History, Gideon Haigh traces from origins among merchants and monks to the gleaming glass towers of New York and the space age sweatshops of Silicon Valley, finding an extraordinary legacy of invention and ingenuity, shaped by the telephone, the typewriter, the elevator, the email, the copier, the cubicle, the personal computer, the personal digital assistant.

Amid the formality, restraint and order of office life, too, he discovers a world teeming with dramas great and small, of boredom, betrayal, distraction, discrimination, leisure and lust, meeting along the way such archetypes as the Whitehall mandarin, the Wall Street banker, the Dickensian clerk, the Japanese salaryman, the French bureaucrat and the Soviet official.

In doing so, Haigh taps a rich lode of art and cinema, fiction and folklore, visiting the workplaces imagined by Hawthorne and Heller, Kafka and Kurosawa, Balzac and Billy Wilder, and visualised from Mary Tyler Moore to Mad Men, from Network to 9 to 5 – plus, of course, The Office. Far from simply being a place we visit to earn a living, the office emerges as a way of seeing the entire world.

The Office: it’s the history of all of us.

Gideon Haigh has been writing about sport and business for more than twenty years. He wrote regularly for The Guardian during the 2006-07 Ashes series. He has written or edited more than twenty books.

Click here to buy The Office from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. Online Book Shop

Gideon Haigh will be speaking at The Sydney Writer’s Festival today

Blogging and Tweeting without Getting Sued : A global guide to the law for anyone writing online by Mark Pearson

What you post on a blog or tweet to your followers can get you arrested or cost you a lot of money in legal battles. This practical guide shows you how to stay out of trouble when you write online.

Every time you blog or tweet you may be subject to the laws of more than 200 jurisdictions. As more than a few bloggers or tweeters have discovered, you can be sued in your own country, or arrested in a foreign airport as you’re heading off on holiday – just for writing something that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if you said it in a bar or a cafe.

In this handy guide, media law expert Mark Pearson explains how you can get your message across without landing yourself in legal trouble. In straightforward language, he explains what everyone writing online needs to know about free speech, reputation and defamation, privacy, official secrets and national security, copyright and false advertising.

Whether you host a celebrity Facebook page, tweet about a hobby, or like to think of yourself as a citizen journalist, you need this guide to keep on the right side of cyberlaw.

Click here to order Blogging and Tweeting without Getting Sued  from
Australia, No.1 Online Book Shop

About the Author : Mark Pearson is a journalist and professor of journalism at Bond University, and co-author of The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law. He is a correspondent for Reporters Without Borders and has been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Far Eastern Economic Review and The Australian. Blog: journlaw.com; Twitter: @journlaw; Facebook: Journ Law

Available from 1st April 2012

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

It is certainly only a rumour at this stage, but Daniel Kahneman is an outside chance for the Sydney Writer’s Festival next year. This man is one serious thinker, so if you have the chance to be in a room with him, you should take it. Meanwhile, while the emails are going backwards and forwards, his latest book is racing off our shelves.

Think Malcolm Gladwell and then some. The reviews are amazing.

FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Israeli American Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology challenging the rational model of judgement and decision-making, is one of the world’s most important thinkers.  His ideas have had a profound impact on many fields – including business, medicine and politics – but until now he has not brought together his many years of research in one book.

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think and make choices.  One system is fast, intuitive, and emotional; the other is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.  Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities – and also the faults and biases – of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behaviour.  The importance of properly framing risks, the effects of cognitive biases on how we view others, the dangers of prediction, the right ways to develop skills, the pros and cons of fear and optimism, the difference between our experience and memory of events, the real components of happiness – each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.

Drawing on a lifetime’s experimental experience, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking.  He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our professional and our personal lives – and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.  Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you take decisions and experience the world.

FROM THE REVIEWERS:

‘There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.’ Financial Times

Thinking, Fast and Slow is a masterpiece – a brilliant and engaging intellectual saga by one of the greatest psychologists and deepest thinkers of our time. Kahneman should be parking a Pulitzer next to his Nobel Prize.’ Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness

‘Daniel Kahneman is one of the most original and interesting thinkers of our time. There may be no other person on the planet who better understands how and why we make the choices we make. In this absolutely amazing book, he shares a lifetime’s worth of wisdom presented in a manner that is simple and engaging, but nonetheless stunningly profound. This book is a must read for anyone with a curious mind.’ Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics

‘Daniel Kahneman is among the most influential psychologists in history and certainly the most important psychologist alive today. He has a gift for uncovering remarkable features of the human mind, many of which have become textbook classics and part of the conventional wisdom. His work has reshaped social psychology, cognitive science, the study of reason and of happiness, and behavioral economics, a field that he and his collaborator Amos Tversky invented. The appearance of Thinking, Fast and Slow is a major event.’ Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of our Nature

‘This is a landmark book in social thought, in the same league as The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud.’ Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan

Matt Granfield, author of HipsterMattic: One Man’s Quest to Become the Ultimate Hipster, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Matt Granfield

author of HipsterMattic: One Man’s Quest to Become the Ultimate Hipster

Ten Terrifying Questions

——————————-

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

For a second there I thought that read ‘Why were you born?’ and I was thinking that was a little deep for an author questionnaire, but given this is the ‘ten terrifying questions’ I wasn’t surprised. Then I realised I had my non-prescription hipster glasses on instead of my actual reading glasses. I’ve swapped them now so I can read properly. It’s suddenly a much less intrusive and less philosophical experience. I grew up in a little town on the NSW South Coast called Continue reading

Towards the Light: The Story of the Struggles for Liberty and Rights that Made the Modern West by A. C. Grayling

I have been reading Towards the Light for a while now. My father said it was right up my alley. I am chuffed to think that my father knows I have an alley and has understood my mad ravings at family get-togethers enough to appreciate I may like to read Towards the Light.

A.C. Grayling, of course, writes far better than I rave.

Towards the Light is very much the kind of book which makes me want to scream… Yes! Yes! Yes! That’s what I’ve been saying all along!

The only way to ensure we retain the freedoms we enjoy today is to appreciate and understand the struggle to attain them.

Now, to get every single human in the world to read and to understand the book.

The trouble is, I can’t really justify any attempt to force people to read a book about liberty.

So here’s what I’ll do. I shall make a request to you, dear reader. If you love and respect the freedoms you enjoy right now, buy multiple copies of Towards the Light and leave them lying about in places where people may need a book to read. Or, if you really, really love liberty, buy box loads and donate them to schools. Okay? Great.

I bet this is going to work so well!

Buy Towards the Light here.

About A.C. Grayling’s inspirational history of ideas in action, Towards the Light.

The often-violent conflicts of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were sparked by the pursuit of freedom of thought. In time, this drive led to bitter fighting, including the English Civil War. Then came revolutions in America and France that swept away monarchies for more representative forms of government and making possible the abolition of slavery, the enfranchisement of women, and the idea of universal human rights and freedoms.

Each of these struggles was a memorable human drama, and Grayling interweaves the stories of these heroes, including Martin Luther, Mary Wollstonecraft and Rosa Parks, whose sacrifices make us value these precious rights, especially in an age when governments under pressure find it necessary to restrict rights in the name of freedom.

About the Author

A.C. Grayling is Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, and a multi-talented author. He believes that philosophy should take an active, useful role in society. He has been a regular contributor to The Times, Financial Times, Observer, Independent on Sunday, Economist, Literary Review, New Statesman and Prospect, and is a frequent and popular contributor to radio and television programmes, including Newsnight, Today, In Our Time, Start the Week and CNN news. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum at Davos, and advises on many committees ranging from Drug Testing at Work to human rights groups.

AC Grayling recently answered my Ten Terrifying Questions

Women on Twitter: A cyber-room of one’s own, says Grace Dent

I have just read English journalist, author, and broadcaster, Grace Dent’s amusing, insightful and ultimately helpful book on the Twitter phenomenon, entitled How to Leave Twitter.

In the middle of the book, under the heading Justifying your Twitter addiction, is the eighth justification: Women on Twitter: A cyber-room of one’s own. The first sentence of which is: ‘On Twitter I feel something that I feel very rarely in the rest of the world: that my sex is 100% equally represented.’

A surprising claim but one which anyone who has spent time on Twitter would find hard to argue with. On Twitter you will hear opinions voiced by women you will not hear anywhere else in the media – strong, clever, honest, silly, disinterested, brave, iconoclastic, surprising opinions.

I spoke to Grace Dent via Twitter and asked her: In your Continue reading

Nick Bryant, author of Adventures in Correspondentland, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

NICK BRYANT

author of Adventures in Correspondentland

Ten Terrifying Questions

—————————–

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Bristol, England, where I went to the local comprehensive school. Then I set off on a university crawl that took in Cambridge, Oxford and MIT. Very self-indulgent, I know, but I loved the student life. Journalism is the next best thing.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve, I still thought I might captain England at cricket. At eighteen, I was Continue reading

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