Tim O’Reilly

Reviews—Books that Have Shaped My Thinking

An archive, in reverse chronological order, of essays, interviews, and talks relating to books that have shaped my thinking.

Books That Have Shaped How I Think — In 2004, I greatly expanded and updated this text for the print piece, Tim O'Reilly in a Nutshell.

Science and Consensus — In this weblog entry from September 2002, I write about the ideas I've taken from books by Alfred Korzybski, Wallace Stevens, Thomas Kuhn, Benjamin Whorf, Dr. Johnson, and many others.

You Must Read this Book! — May 2000. One of my all time favorite quotes is Edwin Schlossberg's "The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think." Well, I've recently read a book that gave me a whole new set of tools for thinking: Larry Lessig's awesome Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. I've written a brief review, and applied some of its insights to ways that web-based applications might take the teeth out of free software licenses like the GPL.

He doesn't advocate any particular solutions; rather he calls in a most strenuous way for us to think about the implications of technology and the implications of regulation, to decide what kind of culture we want to create, and to use whatever means seem most appropriate—laws (what he calls East Coast code) or technology (West Coast code) to build the world that we want to live in.

Practical Internet Groupware — This is a preview of the 1999 intro I wrote to Jon Udell's seminal book. While the use of the internet as a groupware platform is the ostensible subject of this book, what really grabbed me was Jon's articulation of the idea that web sites themselves could be used as software components. For some of Jon's own  writings on this subject, see the book itself, or his wonderful keynote for the Zope track at the 2000 Python Conference, plus a message from him that I quoted as part of one of my Ask Tim columns.

Suggested Reading — In my old employee handbook, Rules of Thumb, I included an appendix of books that had influenced my thinking. This list is from the late 1980s.