A few must reads

Was able to catch up on some reading over the long weekend… A few articles (plus one book) that i was really glad to read, and which I’d highly reccomend:

(1) China Invades Africa, by Richard Behar in June’s Fast Company :: This won’t look very significant from the web page, but the amount of ink dedicated to this article in print is incredible — it’s one of the longest features that Fast has ever run (or so Jake says).  And rightfully so — it may be the most illuminating article i’ve read all year, and I think everyone should read it.  Summary: it’s a well-writen but harrowing account of how China is rolling half the African continent to get at the majority of the world’s extractable, non-renewable natural resources in record time — with lots of good first-person reporting and adventure laced in. Most developed countries have little standing to ask that we don’t repeat development mistakes of decades ago, as African rulers / heads of state sell their countries down the river for personal gain.

(2) The New Organizers, Part 1: What’s really behind Obama’s ground game, by Zack Exley in HuffPo (Oct 8) :: Another great read, outlining how team Obama and the Dems have (a) returned to real field organizing but revolutionized and magnified its impact by (b) integrating web thinking — enabling and empowering volunteers to do the work that would have traditionally been done by staff.  It’s a much-refined and evolved version of the Dean campaign, where meetup meets traditional field organizing in a dramatic new way.  Zack does a nice job covering the ‘neighborhood teams’ program that the campaign has artfully rolled out across the country.  Hats off to friend and collegue Jeremy Bird who gets some well-deserved credit in this piece for all he’s doing to make the program work; he’s been in the field running states for Obama since the early early primaries and we’ll owe him a parade and a bed once Obama wins. Ready for Part 2, Zack.

(3) How the Web Was Won: An Oral History of the Internet — Vanity Fair special, July 08 :: This is the most enjoyable and complete history of the internet that i’ve seen. It’s like walking in on a private cocktail party with all the geeky greats, telling old stories about how it all came together.  But they’re not talking about little things like widgets or the BCC line — this is about how the real stuff came to be, like ethernet and the web browser.

(4) The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni — Hang on. Hear me out. I’ve had this book for two years now but it sounded so horribly and painfully boring that I could never bring myself to pick it up, despite the personal reccomendations.  Then I saw the small print on the cover: “a leadership fable”. Props to Pat for going the extra mile to write this businessy/leadership/management book as if it were fiction. Not sure why no one ever told me it was actually an enjoyable and quick read, because it is. Anyone who works with people or serves in a leadership role would benefit from this I’d imagine. Did I mention that it’s a quick read?

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