Books I'm reading and topics explored
Issue 113: My current interests that'll shape into future projects
I get asked a lot about what I’m reading and topics I’m interested in at the moment. I’d tell you to check out my Goodreads but I never update it. With the rest of the year completely booked I don’t anticipate committing to new projects like a zine or essays. The last essay I wrote was Jodorowsky's Product Roadmap in 2021. I really enjoy writing longer-form topics but we have incredible things to focus on at work.
Instead of sharing a list of books, I thought it’d be great to discuss topics that’s inspiring me and where I’m putting my energy.
Let’s take a look at some of the books and topics!
What I'm reading
Sadly, I don’t have any fiction in my rotation at the moment. I’ve noticed when I’m busy I opt to read non-fiction and save a great fantasy or science fiction book when I have free time, such as on vacation. You know it’s crunch time when it’s non-fiction all day! My current reads are focused on skill building and educating myself on topics I want to deepen my experience. The number one way to accrue experience you don’t have is reading other people’s experience.
How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens
The title of this book is as cheesy and straight-forward as How to Win Friends & Influence People but is an incredible resource. This is a classic read if you need inspiration on how to use writing as a thinking tool and take better notes. Contrary to popular belief, we don't write Hemingway novels on the first attempt. A huge portion of my newsletter ideas is from many re-writes of notes that are built up over years of notes.
Masters of Doom by David Kushner
I've been doing a lot of research on id Software, and by doing research it's watching YouTube videos and listening to the Quake soundtrack produced by Nine Inch Nails. I figured I should read some books and picked up Masters of Doom, a book about the two founders (John Carmack and John Romero) and how they transformed both pop culture and tech innovation. Doom is a game I grew up playing on our i386 personal computer. In fact, IDDQD and IDKEA were the first debut tasks I ever used without knowing it. I'm reading this book to inform my essay about paradigm shifts and using Quake as the
Continuous Discovery Habits by Teresa Torres
I consider Teresa Torres as the GOAT of product and has been inspirational throughout my career. She wrote a book last year called Continuous Discovery Habits. Product Discovery is my love language when it comes to software development and believe it’s the highest impact area design can make as it requires research, product, design, engineering, and customers to have successful outcomes.
Zone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption by Geoffrey A. Moore
Candidly speaking, I just downloaded this book after my COO mentioned it at an offsite so can’t share much about the experience on it so far. I’m interested in how companies think about launching new business lines and this book offers a playbook in how to approach it. My first reaction is this is a book that gives you guidance on how to handle The Innovator’s Dilemma.
Topics I'm exploring
I need to give to contain my excitement as a life-long learner and cap topics to a vital three to dig into. Otherwise, my time and attention will spread like peanut butter. There is so much I want to learn and not enough time. Here are the three topics occupying my headspace at the moment.
If you know where I work, this is not a shocker. I’ve been fascinated with visual programming ever since I was a kid. When I wasn’t playing Doom, I’d fail at building something in Visual Basic. I think back then I thought it was a design tool so while I drew with Microsoft Paint, I kept coming back to Visual Basic. I’d continue exploring other software such as Macromedia Dreamweaver, HyperCard, and Quartz Composer. My focus is to use other VPLs and go beyond web development tools. I’m also looking to deepen my understanding in the history of Visual Programming Languages as I believe it’s important to have a strong perspective of attempts in the past. Remember the Scratch Programming Language that came out of MIT?
I’m hoping to work on an essay next year called “World Building for Software Development”. The concept of world building is familiar to the world of film and literature, and I believe software benefits from these techniques. Ironically I’ve been doing more research about epic fantasy and science fiction writer Brandon Sanderson than actually reading his books! Sanderson has an incredible lecture series on YouTube on world building I’ve been staying.
If Product Discovery is my 1A love language, diagramming is 1B. In addition to reading Abby Covert’s book, Stuck?, I’m practicing drawing various diagrams in both digital drawing tools and on paper. I’m planning to earn a Unified Modeling Language (UML) certification as it’s been a personal goal of mine for years.
That’s a bit of what I’m learning these days! I’m trying to squeeze time a bit each morning to do a bit of reading and experimenting. However, it’s going to be a busy few months so likely will wait until the slower holiday break to go deeper. I’d love to hear topics you are personally excited about!