In January 2012, I reviewed a new book from Observer business/tech columnist John Naughton, called From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: Disruptive Innovation in the Age of the Internet. It's a great, fast read aimed at smart people who don't quite get the net -- the kind of thing you'd want to slide under your boss's door to forestall more well-intentioned and frustrating questions about What Should Be Done about this Internet thing.
Gutenberg to Zuckerberg fills an important gap in the published literature of the Internet: a fast, thoughtful, thought-provoking read for intelligent people who don't quite get the Internet. We all know these sorts of people -- often powerful and accomplished, but at a disadvantage in that they got their start before the net came along. These people struggle to put the Internet in perspective, buffeted on the one side by colleagues who reassure them by telling them that the transformative nature of the net is overstated; on the other by juniors, analysts and press who tell them that they're doomed unless they rebuild their lives around the net.
Naughton, a seasoned business journalist, sums up the big, important effects that the Internet has in a very quick read, placing them in historical perspective, projecting to their plausible futures, warning of their imminent dangers. From copyright to collective action, from governance to ecommerce, Naughton's book sets out, in reasonable, measured tones, the systemic underpinnings of the net's disruptive power, and promises attentive readers the theoretical and practical grounding they need to separate hype from hope.