Some new books and other recent reading:
Code: Version 2.0 by "free culture" and Creative Commons guru Lawrence Lessig is a revision of his 1999 book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. What’s unique about this book is that it’s the "first ever reader-edited revision of a popular book." The revisions were done at this Wiki, where you can still read the book for free, though I don’t know if it’s still undergoing revision. (Update: read or "remix" the new version here.) Basic Books just released the print version. From the book jacket:
"Under the influence of commerce, cyberspace is becoming a highly
regulable space, where behavior is much more tightly controlled than in
real space. But that’s not inevitable either. We can-we must-choose
what kind of cyberspace we want and what freedoms we will guarantee.
These choices are all about architecture: about what kind of code will
govern cyberspace, and who will control it. In this realm, code is the
most significant form of law, and it is up to lawyers, policymakers,
and especially citizens to decide what values that code embodies."
I have not yet read any of Lessig’s books, mostly because I feel like I’ve heard enough of the ideas already through the blogosphere, but I should probably check them out.
She’s Such a Geek: Women write about science, technology, and other nerdy stuff edited by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders is out, and there’s also a website and blog for the book at www.shessuchageek.com. As the title says, it’s an impressive collection of essays about women and technology.
Knockout Mouse by James Calder is a fun little murder mystery and is the first of Calder’s "Bill Damen Silicon Valley Mystery" series. I picked it up on a whim this past Thanksgiving weekend and enjoyed it quite a bit. The story takes place amidst competing biotech firms and there are lots of science bits about pharmaceutical research, genetically modified foods, as well as some Bay Area trivia. Calder also has a website.
I’ve been reading Paul Virilio’s 2000 book, The Information Bomb. Virilio, in true French intellectual style, is over-the-top, sloppy with science terms, and spends too much time talking about American movies, but he does say a few pithy things about the Internet, the coming surveillance society and the immaturity of today’s adults.
Jerome Ravetz’s No-Nonsense Guide to Science is part of the No-Nonsense series from the activist New Internationalist magazine. Ravetz addresses the myths of scientific objectivity, certainty, and value-neutrality, and the ways that the practice of science has shifted from independent "little science" to corporate-sponsored "mega science." Ravetz uses the term "Post-Normal" science for the new, value-laden and ethically challenging sciences such as genomics, neuroscience, and nanotechnology. He also discusses the Science Shops movement that is growing in Europe
and is fostering citizen involvement in scientific ethics questions. Jerome Ravetz has a website and contributes to a blog called The Post-Normal Times: Putting Science into Context.