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Books, essays and websites that have influenced the development of iMechanica

Zhigang Suo's picture

In this blog entry, I'll maintain a list of books, essays and websites that have influenced me in developing iMechanica. I'll also list my notes on them whenever available. Because iMechanica shares many common problems with other online communities, it is natural that we find solutions discovered by other online communities helpful. At the same time, iMechanica is unique in some respects, and has its own unique problems, so that we cannot adopt any methods or viewpoints without adjustment.

You are most welcome to add more helpful references in the comment section of this post. Thank you.

Books and essays

Websites

Comments

Mogadalai Gururajan's picture

Dear Prof. Suo,

Here is a bit of anthropology of collaborative technologies which might interest you; to whet your appetite, here is a quote from the post (which is itself a quote from an interview to which the blogpost links to):

"The radically collaborative technologies emerging on the Web create the possibility for doing scholarship in the mode of conversation rather than argument, or to transform the argument as war metaphor into something that suggests collaboration rather than combat.

Personally, I prefer the metaphor of the dance and that we are all here in this webscape dancing and playing around with ideas. The best dancers are those that find a way to “lose themselves” in the music – pushing the limits of the dance without fear of tripping or falling because they know that it is all part of the dance."

Guru

 

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Guru:  Thank you so much for this link, which I followed and found this delightful video of web tools made by Michael Wesch, an assistant professor of anthropology at Kansas State University.   In the last 18 months or so, guided by Michael Suo, I have tried most of these web tools featured in the video. 

Before this exploration, my use of web was limited to emails and download journals papers, and an occasional google search.  This new world is the world of our children, and I'm delighted to be a small part of it.  Thank you again for pointing out this link.  It reminds me of the early days of Applied Mechanics News, and of the best time I have spent with Michael, when he taught me, instead of the other way around.

A  good resource for videos of talks on various aspects of science and engineering is Scitalks.  We could try a similar idea here.

Zhigang Suo's picture

I've been reading more books on topics related to the development of iMechanica, and will add them as comments to this post.  Please do so when you read a good one.

Yesterday I checked out from my local library the new book Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter.  The 188-page book is a delight to hands, eyes and mind.  Many full-colored screen shots, and concise analyses.  I'll let customers at Amazon give you an overview of the book.

On p. 23 of the book, Porter talked about the AOF method of design:

  1. Focus on the promiary Activity.
  2. Identify your social Objects.
  3. Choose your core Feature set.

Toward the end of the chapter he advised keeping a check on features:

  • Each feature means more complexity.
  • Just say no to the urge to add too many features.
  • Don't copy features.

Porter related an anectote about Steve Jobs.  Jobs was talking to music industry people, and said the following:

I know you have a thousand ideas for all the cool features iTunes *could* have.  So do we.  But we don't want a thousand features.  That would be ugly.  Innovation is not about a thousand features.  It's about saying No to all but the most crucial features.

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