Good resources for learning about new and upcoming non-fiction about the internet?
January 7, 2011 1:02 PM   Subscribe

What are some good resources for finding out about recent/new/upcoming non-fiction books that discuss the web or the internet?

I feel a little silly even asking, but I'm grappling with the fact that the web is pretty thoroughly my native medium at this point. I haven't gone actively hunting for new books in years, beyond casually browsing a physical bookstore every few months. If it wasn't handed to me by a friend or mentioned on e.g. The Daily Show, I might not even know it exists.

So, how do I get caught up and stay current in a subject-specific way with what has come out and what's coming out in terms of engaging non-fiction books about the internet and its intersections with society, science, politics, creative philosophy, etc?

I'm not interested in technical manuals, how-to guides, programming references, or so forth. I want to find books for mostly non-specialist audiences that say interesting things about the internet and its related phenomena.
posted by cortex to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Wouldn't google alerts do the trick?
posted by axiom at 1:10 PM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

You are asking at the right place.

You can begin with Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody and Jeff Jarvis' What Would Google Do?
posted by bru at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2011

The New York Times Book Review?
posted by theNeutral at 1:26 PM on January 7, 2011

Response by poster: Wouldn't google alerts do the trick?

It might, but I don't use it for anything currently and I'm not sure what the best way to make that work would be. If you've got a specific suggestion there, that'd be great.

I should also underscore that while recommendations for specific recent titles are totally welcome, my main interest here is in methods for finding stuff on an ongoing basis.
posted by cortex at 1:26 PM on January 7, 2011

That's a very broad topic.
I like watching video podcasts from the TED Conference.
There is a search function and a list of talks by subject (there is a great deal related to the internet, of course).

You might also check the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.

I would also go to your local public library and talk to the reference librarian. Librarians know how to find anything out and a good reference librarian will know the right questions to ask you to get you exactly what you need.
posted by joz1 at 1:30 PM on January 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by benzenedream at 1:32 PM on January 7, 2011

I do regular Amazon searches for computer-mediated communication, language, internet, etc. I also (RSS when I can) subscribe to several listservs and academic journals in internet, communication, language, sociology studies, etc. On the listservs, the new books are often announced by the authors or publishing companies. In the academic journals, new books are peer-reviewed (usually at the end of the feed/issue, after the articles). Conferences are a great place for picking up the latest leaflets from the booths of the publishing companies that are representing. They'll have discounts as well (and sometimes the authors will be hanging around or somewhere at the conference, which is nice for having an impromptu chat). Emailing professors in computer-mediated-communication departments is sometimes fruitful too.

fyi, David Crystal has a new book, Internet Linguistics, coming out January 18th I believe. It might be of interest.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:32 PM on January 7, 2011

More precisely: I really think that AskMe is the best place to find this kind of books. I recommand these two books because I have read them, not because of their topic.

To my - limited - knowledge, there aren't that many engaging non-fiction books about the internet and its intersections with...
posted by bru at 1:33 PM on January 7, 2011

Also, once you jump into all the subscriptions and whatnot, you start to get a sense for where the goodies are and who the key players are that you should be following, based on your particular interests.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:34 PM on January 7, 2011

Maybe browse some Amazon categories? They get pretty specific, and I think you can sign up to get emails for new releases in certain categories.
posted by mattbucher at 1:35 PM on January 7, 2011

One way is to check catalogs/websites of publishers who you know to publish good stuff on your topics - O'Reilly might be an obvious one. Just a few off the top of my head: MIT's Bradford Books is another that comes to mind. You look up a bunch of topics you like on Amazon, and check to see which publishers are showing up as publishing titles that sound right -- then follow those publishers' lists.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:35 PM on January 7, 2011

danah boyd has an interesting blog. She's compiled a 'best of' list so you can browse by topic and get a feel for her style. Writes often about social media. She's an academic, but accessible.

If you use a social bookmarking site like Diigo, you can look for other users that have bookmarked sites by topic.
posted by joz1 at 2:11 PM on January 7, 2011

This is your library's RSS feed for non-fiction. Filter that for something that looks for the words tech/internet/web/whathaveyou and you'll be able to get an idea of what's being published loosely. Here is a search for books with the word "internet" as a keyword, sorted by date. Pretty sure clicking that link in the future will re-run the search. Powells Technical books page will have a lot of different inroads to looking at technical [i.e. techie, but also nerdy like engineering and stuff] books from a lot of different vantage points. All of these things will not only let you know what is coming out, but will let you know that they are available in proximity to you personally. My landlady reads the NYTimes tech section on [I think] Thursdays and it seems to give her some good ideas.
posted by jessamyn at 2:19 PM on January 7, 2011

I meant something like this, as a google alerts search phrase:

+internet +"non-fiction"

This returns reasonable-looking results, including this area of amazon dedicated to nonfiction internet books.
posted by axiom at 4:03 PM on January 7, 2011

A friend of mine turned me on to Stewart Brand's reading list in the GBN newsletter. The lists can be a bit strange or preachy, but there's usually one or two I'll add to my to-read list.
posted by dw at 5:00 PM on January 7, 2011

Siva Vaidhyanathan's The Googlization of Everything will be well worth reading when it comes out in March.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:21 PM on January 7, 2011

If you pretend to be a journo the major publishers will send you their upcoming publication catalogs, which are a great way to see what's in the pipeline long before it hits the shelves.
posted by unSane at 6:15 PM on January 7, 2011

Publishers Lunch publishes a weekly roundup of notable deals in the book world in addition to its daily newsletter of publishing news. It's certainly not indicative of all deals announced that week (you can pay to subscribe to a service that gives you access to all announced deals), but it can be a good indicator of what notable books have been contracted.
posted by mynameisluka at 10:36 PM on January 7, 2011

Probably the easiest thing to do would be to list yourself as the "tech book reviewer" for MetaFilter itself, on a database like Cision, which PR companies use to find bloggers to pitch. Given MeFi's stature, reach, prominence and longevity, they'd probably all fall all over themselves to send you every book they publish.

The downside would be a little bit of management of noise in your inbox, but if you listed a particular email address just for that purpose, it'd certainly be manageable.
posted by anildash at 4:54 PM on January 14, 2011

Response by poster: Bunch of great suggestions. Thanks all, I've managed to land myself in a real spiderweb of potential reading here.
posted by cortex at 6:23 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

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