Welcome to Cambridge!

Welcome to Cambridge! It may well be autumn, but a good place to start the first blog post is with the summer reading list.  Every year we have an excellent discussion when students first arrive in Cambridge, but I have always thought it a bit of a shame that we don’t do more with the insights that students will have gained from the readings.  The reading list, though updated on an annual basis, has not truly been a living document that incorporates the feedback from students past and present and so this is one small effort to use our blog to correct that and improve the way we engage and develop our course materials.

As a goal for your first week in Cambridge, please try to grab a few moment to add your own comments or to review at least a book or two that you found especially useful, challenging, and/or insightful (or maybe you have found some dull, frustrating or even wrong!). I have tried not to influence your views in the first place, but must admit that some of the readings are not always there because I agree with every word on every page or even with the thesis being put forward, but because they challenge the reader and offer an opportunity to reflect, revisit or change views on a new or old subject. Many of you will have come across readings that you feel particularly relevant or that should have been on the list.  If so, please feel free to add some details at the end.

Summer reading list 2013 for the MPhil in Technology Policy

The list is intended to be somewhat intimidating.  One of the main goals of this year is to learn to process a huge of information quickly.  There is no priority offered and books are simply listed alphabetical by title. We hope that at least two or three of these books might attract your interest and that you will be able to read them before coming to Cambridge.  If you can read more, so much the better. Several of the books listed are third party recommendations, for which we are most grateful. The list is not meant to be exhaustive, they are meant to offer a taster of some of the issues that we will discuss over the course of the next year and reflect the diversity of the challenging topics that you will confront over the year.  We do not endorse every book but feel that even where we disagree, the arguments are important and worthy of consideration.  Some are classics and others more recent offerings that address the latest technologies and controversies.  The list includes some books that are science for policy or policy for science, others that are industrial policy or management of technology and still others take an even broader sweep through history and politics drawing on disciplines from psychology to economics.  The authors include economists (e.g., Hirschman and Baumol), lawyers (Sunstein and Posner), historians (Darwin and Landes), journalists (Goldacre and Marsh), Cambridge colleagues (Taylor and Coates) and even a few scientists and engineers (Dawkins and Rees) as well as some modern and ancient classics (Kuhn, Snow, Sun Tzu). As a rule they are well written (not necessarily the norm for technology policy and management books) and a few even provide some useful guidance on how to write (which will come in handy, since by the time you graduate you will submit coursework or reports totalling some 50,000 words by the count of one alum!). We shall discuss the summer readings during one of our first meetings together in early October.

TitleAuthor (s)PublisherEditionISB No.DMR Comments/Intro
Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Truth and Horror of ScienceRichard HolmesHarperPress2008978-0-0071-4952-0Written for a generalist audience, a wonderfully crafted study of the advent of science during the Enlightenment by examining the stories of prominent individuals
After Tamerlane: The Global History of EmpireJohn DarwinPenguin2008978-0-1410-1022-9Rich, entertaining and deeply illuminating review of the broad sweep of empire since Tamerlane in 1400. A truly global (i.e., non-Eurocentric) approach to world history.
Bad ScienceBen GoldacreHarper Perennial2009978-0-0072-8487-0An entertaining and sometimes damning review of current trends and fads in science and pseudo-science, especially how they are reported in the media
Beyond SpinoffJ Alic, L Branscomb, H Brooks, A Carter, and G EpsteinHarvard Business School Press19920-87584-318-2Dating from the end of the cold war this book discusses thinking around ‘dual use’ technologies and the inter-relationship of defence procurement and civil innovation.
BlinkMalcolm GladwellLittle, Brown20050-31617-232-4By the author of Tipping Point – looks into the role of ‘rapid cognition’ or intuition when faced with complicated problems
Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless NeuroscienceSally Satel and Scott O. LilienfeldBasic Books2013978-0465018772A welcome challenge to the newfound infatuation with neuroscience. The problem, as they see it, is not the science but dubious applications.
Catastrophe: Risk And ResponseRichard PosnerOxford University Press20040-1951-7813-0A remarkable and entertaining tour of a challenging issue written by the prolific judge and law professor.
Clocks and CultureCarlo M CipollaW W Norton19780-393-00866-5A fascinating little book examining historically one particular technological innovation – the clock. The inter-relationship of technology and culture is interesting and historically important
Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet FreedomRebecca MacKinnonBasic Books2012978-0465024421Before the latest wave of controversies, MacKinnon tackles questions of what ‘rights’ we have in public and private spheres and how they are infringed. She is particularly good on China, offers a refreshingly global take on these issues.
Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Markets, Speculation and the State Wlliam H JanewayCambridge University Press2012978-1107031258In spite or perhaps because Janeway is one of the leaders of the field of venture capital (longtime Warburg Pincus) this work extends far beyond VC and is a thoughtful historically and economically-rich account by one of ‘our’ own
Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American CenturyG. Pascal ZacharyMIT Press19990-262-74022-2Compelling biography on the most important figure in post-WWII American science policy
Exit, Voice and LoyaltyAlbert O. HirschmanHarvard University Press19700-674-27660-4A classic on ethics issues at work with wide application. Reading anything by Albert Hirschman is time well spent.
Explaining Research: How to Reach Key Audiences to Advance Your WorkDennis MeredithOUP USA20100-199-73205-1How to convey complicated ideas, data and technologies. Aimed at working scientists, Meredith offers a wide range of avenues by which science and technology can be explained to the public and how to do so well.
The Free-Market Innovation Machine: Analyzing the Growth Miracle of CapitalismWilliam J. BaumolPrinceton University Press2003978-0-6910-9615-5Unlike many other economists, Baumol, one of the leading economists of our time, places innovation at the core of understanding the success of markets and the drivers of growth.
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of EverythingSteven D. Levitt & Stephen J. DubnerPenguin Books20060-141-01901-8Best seller that applies statistical methods and economic reasoning to non-traditional policy problems. See also: www.freakonomics.com
Geek ManifestoMark HendersonBantam Books2012978-0593068236A call for more evidence-based policy making, more science in policy and taking the knowledge economy seriously by the former Science Editor of The Times
Global Crises, Global Solutions Bjorn LomborgCambridge University Press20040-52-160614-4Outcome of 2004 “Copenhagen Consensus”. Eight economists ranked proposals for spending $50 billion to address ten global problems
Glut: Mastering Information Through the AgesAlex WrightJoseph Henry Press20080-30-910238-3Examines how humans have collected, organised and shared information long before the advent of modern communications.
Guns, Germs and SteelJared DiamondVintage19970-09-930278-0Technology and its role in dividing mankind
How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic WritingPaul J. SilviaAmerican Psychological Association20071-59-1477-433Although the author is an academic psychologist and I do not think that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to writing, there are some valuable suggestions on time management and overcoming potential blocks.
Inside the Black BoxNathan RosenbergCambridge University Press19950-521-27367-6A serious and influential examination of the multi-faceted relationship between science, technology and economic growth.
How to be a MinisterGerald KaufmanFaber and Faber19970-571-19080-4This used to be almost a textbook for incoming British government ministers. Many interesting insights into the British public policy system. Now dated – but still recommended. Usually available second hand from Amazon.co.uk. It is also a print on demand title from Langton Green Books.
Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce KnowledgeCass SunsteinOxford University Press20060-195-18928-0To quote Lawrence Lessig “This extraordinary work synthesizes the latest in how we know… map[s] more compellingly than any other book the promise and risk of the information society.”
Knowledge & Wealth of Nations: A Story of Economic DiscoveryDavid WarshW.W. Norton20080-393-32988-7An enjoyable history of economic thought from Adam Smith to Paul Romer.
Laws of Fear : Beyond the Precautionary Principle (The Seeley Lectures)Cass SunsteinCambridge University Press20050-52-161-512-7A sceptical view of the precautionary principle by a leading US thinker on law and regulation who is now a key figure in the Obama Administration.
No LogoNaomi KleinFlamingo20010-00-653040-0Naomi Klein’s polemic against the modern world of corporate marketing
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness Richard H Thaler and Cass R SunsteinPenguin20090-1410-4001-7The concept of “nudge” became so fashionable so quickly in 2010 (notably in Whitehall and with the new Coalition government) that the backlash has already begun. Still, Nudge offers some important insights into influencing decision-making, particularly as government powers are increasingly circumscribed in many countries
Oxford Book of Modern Science WritingRichard DawkinsOxford University Press20090-1992-1681-9A wonderful compendium of science writing, from J.B.S Haldane and C.P. Snow to Martin Rees and Steven Pinker. Edited by our most famous atheist and a leading scientist. Pay as much to the elegance of the prose as to the content.
Pasteur’s QuadrantDonald E StokesBrookings Institution Press19970-8157-8177-6A book built around a single interesting idea. How can national laboratories do fundamental science and yet best serve the national interest?
Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top AdvocatesRoss GubermanOUP USA20110-1953-9487-9A useful set of tips on how to improve your writing. Written for lawyers, but offers many useful trips on how to write clearly, succinctly and effectively. In spite of the fact that the examples are all American and legal, it is offers some excellent lessons.
Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making, Revised EditionDeborah StoneW W Norton20020-393-97625-4A key text for TP1. Political decision making – presents generalisable considerations, although it is undeniably an American perspective.
Privatization and financial collapse in the nuclear industry – the origins and causes of the British Energy crisis of 2002.Simon TaylorRoutledge2007978-0415431750Few academics or analysts would be better placed than Simon to examine how government decisions, corporate strategy and finance collided and led to the collapse of British Energy.
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity EvolvesMatt RidleyHarper2011978-0007267125Matt Ridley (Viscount Ridley) is nothing if not controversial. His views are less unusual in America (including both his libertarianism and his climate scepticism) but his belief in both technical and human progress is worth thought.
Rescuing PrometheusThomas P HughesVintage Books19980-679-73938-6A real world insight into engineering systems – four massive projects that changed the world.
Our Final CenturyMartin ReesHeinemann20030-434-00809-5The Astronomer Royal’s pessimistic but thought provoking futurology.
Science and Innovation: Rethinking the Rationales for Funding and Governance.Aldo Geuna, Ammon Salter, W. Edward SteinmuellerEdward Elgar20031-84-376850-XEdited volume looking at alternative rationales for publicly funded research
Science and Technology Advice for CongressM Granger Morgan and JM Peha (eds)RFF Press20031-891853-74-0A useful set of insights for TP1 that begins with the repercussions of abolishing the OTA in 1995.
Science And Technology Policy in United States: Open Systems in ActionSylvia KraemerRutgers University Press20060-813538-27-0A rare textbook on S&T policy in the US, which MIT use as a core text for their TPP intro class
Scientific Century: Securing our Future ProsperityRoyal SocietyRoyal Society2010Available at: http://royalsociety.org/The-scientific-century/A stellar advisory board chaired by Sir Martin Taylor takes a hard look at the state of British science and engineering and the needs for the coming decades
Something New Under the SunHelen GavaghanCopernicus19970-387-94914-3The history of telecommunications satellites as strongly recommended by the Science Director of the European Space Agency
Technologies of FreedomIthiel de Sola PoolHarvard University Press19830-674-87233-9Remarkable given it was written in the early 1980s, Pool describes the freedom issues of various media. It posits the need for a type of communications the internet later made possible.
The Art of War for ManagersSun Tzu & Gerald A MichaelsonAdams Media Corporation20011-58062-459-6Modern perspectives on Sun Tzu’s classic military insights
The Audit of WarCorrelli BarnettPan19960-330-34790-XA most enjoyable technological history of 20th Century Britain. A bit of a polemic, but the thesis is compelling that UK WWII propaganda became UK history after victory, and that Britain was never a 20th Century engineering powerhouse.
The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to GoogleNicholas CarrW.W. Norton & Co20080-393-33394-9A provocative and thoughtful book by the author of Does IT Matter? Here, Carr links the history of electrification to the growth of the internet
The Challenger Launch DecisionDiane VaughanChicago University Press1997978-0226851761A thorough overview of an important case study in Technology and Policy.
The Economic Laws of Scientific ResearchTerence KealeyMacmillan Press19960-333-65755-1A controversial and oft-derided book that purports to explain that if pure science were worth doing private industry would pay for it and that there is little or no role for public money in scientific research.
The Emergence of Entrepreneurship PolicyD M Hart (Ed.)CUP20030-521-82677-2A review of national policies for economic growth from our new external examiner
The Future of the Internet–And How to Stop ItJonathan ZittrainYale University Press20080-300-12487-2An instant classic. As Hal Abelson of MIT argues in American Scientist: “This book is a must-read for any student of technology and policy”
The Great Stagnation; How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better”Tyler CowenDutton (ebook)2011978-1-101-50225-9An American economist who argues that we are not innovative as we think we are. A controversial hypothesis, not always supported by the data, but a good challenge to a view of innovation as an inevitable source of progress
The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and PoliticsRoger Pielke JrCUP20070-521-69481-7A critical analysis of the interactions between science, scientists and policy that is useful for TP1 and beyond
The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk-taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and BustJohn CoatesFourth Estate2012978-0007413515JBS finance lecturer and former Wall Street trader provides insights into how human biology is linked to bubbles and crashes. Traders are risk-prone and testosterone-driven (literally, not figuratively!) during a bull market and risk-averse in a bear market.
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful BusinessesEric RiesViking2011978-0670921607Ries confronts why so many startups fail and argues that the business model inherently needs to be different. He posits the need to “think big, but start small. And then scale fast”.
The Machine that changed the world *James Wormack, Daniel T Jones, & Daniel RoosHarper Perennial19910-06-097417-6A readable and entertaining examination of Toyota’s revolutionary introduction of ‘lean production’.
The New Industrial Revolution: Consumers, Globalization and the End of Mass ProductionPeter MarshYale University Press2012978-0300117776A lovely book by an FT journalist that takes a dive into the history of manufacturing and uses some illuminating technology-rich cases.
The Second CenturyMatthias Holweg and F K PilMIT Press20040-262-08332-9The second century of the car. This book extends the research underpinning ‘Machine That Changed the World’
The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of PredictionNate SilverAllen Lane/2012978-1846147524The analytical ‘hero’ of the 2012 US election offers a wider view of the role of experts and applied statistics.
The Social Amplification of RiskNick Pidgeon, Roger E. Kasperson, and Paul Slovic, eds.CUP20030-521-52044-4Builds on the classic 1988 study by Kasperson and offers a wide range of essays on risks and public perceptions
The Social Conquest of EarthEdward O. WilsonW.W. Norton2012978-0871404138E.O. Wilson, author of The Ants, Sociobiology, Consilience, Biophilia and Naturalist, a Pulitzer prize winner and eminent biologist tackles little things like philosophy, religion and history and how all stems from biology.
The Structure of Scientific RevolutionsThomas KuhnUniversity of Chicago Press19960-22-645808-3A classic that posits science as being determined by social construction of facts using concepts such as “normal science” and “paradigm shifts”
The Two CulturesC P SnowCambridge University Press19960-521-45730-0The title has almost become a cliché in modern science policy. Although inaccurate, even when written, the central theme is still sufficiently resonant to be cited today.
The Unbound Prometheus: Technical Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to PresentDavid S. LandesCambridge University Press, 2nd edition20030-521-53402-XNewer edition of a forty-year-old classic. Richly detailed study of the reverberations created by the Industrial Revolution with a particular focus on Europe.
Thinking, Fast and SlowDaniel KahnemanFarrar, Straus & Giroux2011978-1846140556A master work summarising the many ways in which human biases and heuristics do not coincide with standard economic thinking, by the Nobel laureate and father of behavioural economics
UbiquityMark BuchananPhoenix20000-75381-297-5Why the natural world is not as complicated as it may appear with insights into critical states and knife-edge instabilities.
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of InnovationSteven JohnsonAllen Lane2010978-1846140518From across a wide range of disciplines and sectors, Johnson tries to identify some principles that underpin the generation of great ideas
Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and PovertyDaron Acemoglu and James A. RobinsonProfile Books2012978-1846684296Although there are many books along these lines, this is one of the best recent books that brings together economics and politics and in particular focuses on the role of institutions rather than climate, geography or culture.
Yes! 50 Secrets From the Science of PersuasionN Goldstein, S Martin and R CialdiniProfile Books2007978-1846680168A highly readable set of stories and anecdotes illustrating the power of psychology. Many of the examples relate to technology-based business.

Download the Summer 2013 reading list in Excel format (right-click and save-as) [25KB]