Books on emerging ed tech: a crowdsourced reading list

Last week I asked your help, dear readers, in selecting a reading for my upcoming summer seminar on emerging technologies.  You responded generously, both here and elsewhere, and I’d like to share the results.

I’ve broken them up into nonfiction (the biggest category), fiction, and no books.


  • Rachael Botsman, Who Can You Trust? (thanks to Alexander Malkay Hayes)
  • James Bridle, New Dark Age (thanks to Jeremiah Parry-Hill)
  • Fred Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month (thanks to John Lawler)
  • Clayton Christensen, The Inventor’s Dilemma (thanks to Phil Ice)
  • Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, Introduction to Computational Social Science: Principles and Applications (thanks to Peter Rothman)
  • Elisabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (thanks to Ed Webb)
  • Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing, 1450-1800 (thanks to Ed Webb)
  • Atul Gawande’s article in the New Yorker, “Slow Ideas” (thanks to Peter Shea)
  • Jon Gertner, The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation (thanks to Joey King)
  • Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future (thanks to Michael David Cobb Bowen)
  • ____, What Technology Wants (thanks to Thomas Beckett)
  • Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine (thanks to John Lawler)
  • Steven Levy, Hackers (thanks to John Lawler)
  • Donald Norman, The Design of Everyday Things (thanks to Richard Liston)
  • Dana Oblinger (ed), Game Changers : Education and Information Technologies (thanks to Peter Shea)
  • Walter Jackson Ong, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (thanks to Steve Ehrmann)
  • Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers (thanks to Jay Allen)
  • Douglas Rushkoff, Program or Be Programmed (thanks to Warren Blyth)
  • Witold Rybczynski, One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw (2000) (thanks to William Emerson)
  • Peter Smith, Free Range Learning in the Digital Age: The Emerging Revolution in College, Career, and Education (thanks to Peter Shea)

Science Fiction

No textbook

  • Several people agreed with my possibility that no book would fit the bill (Bill Meador, Steve Ehrmann).
  • Carrie offered a great suggestion: “Have the class write chapters on various topics from the student perspective on Ed tech.”

Overall, this is a fascinating mix.  There’s a healthy amount of historical work, in terms of studies of technological change.  There are also a large number of older books, going back to the 1980s and earlier.

A clear majority of the authors are men.

Most of the books are monographs.  Some are anthologies or textbooks.  One’s an essay.

In disciplinary terms, these are all over the place: history, economics, design.

Thanks to all contributors!

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8 Responses to Books on emerging ed tech: a crowdsourced reading list

  1. Mark Wilson says:

    Late again.
    I’d recommend Audrey Watters’ “Monsters of Education” series and her blog Hack Education. She will have a new book soon: “Teaching Machines” on MIT Press.
    I just finished reading Theodore Roszak’s “The Cult of Information: A Neo-Luddite Treatise on High Tech, Artificial Intelligence, and the True Art of Thinking” (2nd ed. 1993) and recommend it as both a history of the edtech cautionary tale (1st ed. 1986) and a prescription for some of today’s’ social media induced challenges.

    • Phil Katz says:

      I second Mark’s recommendation of Audrey Watters (in any format). It might also be interesting to go right back to the beginning and ask people to consider Socrates’ objections to writing as an education technology (in the “Phaedrus”).

      • Bryan Alexander says:

        I always bring in that great dialog about the scary new tech, “writing.” It’s really only a couple of pages.

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Good calls, Mark. I’ve been meaning to get back to Roszak.

      • Mark Corbett Wilson says:

        I’m enjoying Roszak’s “From Satori to Silicon Valley”.
        My favorite passages:
        It is sad in the extreme to know, as we now do, that before Ken Kesey and Timothy Leary brought the gospel of LSD to the streets, the CIA had long since undertaken an exhaustive run of experiments with the hallucinogens using human beings as guinea pigs to explore the possibilities of mind control. Similarly, it now seems abundantly clear that long before the personal computer has the chance to restore democratic values, the major corporations and the security agencies of the world will have used the technology to usher in a new era of advanced surveillance and control.
        …What the powers of modern technology have finally brought them is ecological doom in an empire of unlivable cities dominated by the high rise towers and emblazoned logos of the reigning corporate elite.
        I don’t appreciate his dismissive attitude towards Paolo Soleri and he overlooks the influence of the human potential movement and John C. Lilly in particular.
        It has been a lovely trip down Memory Lane.

  2. All of the books are traditional books, ie., written for publishers and distributed on paper.

    Just looking at my bookshelf (yes, I do have one) reveals a number of omissions…

    Informal Learning, Jay Cross
    Managing Technological Change, Tony Bates (though his recent e-books are far better)
    Learning Networks, Linda Harasim
    Information Rules, Shapiro and Varian
    Release 2.1, Esther Dyson
    Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Pedagogy of Hope, Paulo Friere
    How Children Fail, John Holt
    The Digital Economy, Don Tapscott (though his recent work on blockchain may be more relevant)
    The Battle for Open, Martin Weller
    Bonk/Zhang, Empowering Online Learning
    Jaron Lanier, You Are Not aGadget
    Teaching as a Design Science, Diana Laurillard
    Cyberia, and Playing the Future, Douglas Rushkoff
    Constructionism, Seymour Papert

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