Following on from my previous list, here are some more good non-technical reads that aren’t about software but are enlightening.
Backroom Boys by Francis Spufford is an interesting read, charting the origin stories behind some ingenious inventions. From the creation of the Elite game on the BBC Micro to the short-lived British space programme.
Britain is the only country in the world to have cancelled its space programme just as it put its first rocket into orbit.
It contains various timeless stories of technical brilliance and political failure.
Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air
Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air by the sadly missed Sir David MacKay is a free PDF (in many languages) but is also available in hard copy on Amazon.
This is a must-read that addresses sustainable energy policy with simple mathematics. It doesn’t propose one single solution but it does insist that it has to add up.
Without Hot Air highlights the scale of the problem in transitioning to sustainable energy. However, it also makes it look reasonably achievable if we could just focus on solving the most important problem of our time. I gives a glimmer of hope that averting disaster may be possible, especially considering how the cost of green energy has fallen since it was published (particularly the lowering cost of purchasing and installing solar panels and storage).
How Bad Are Bananas?
How Bad Are Bananas? by Mike Berners-Lee provides a summary of the carbon footprint of a wide selection of things. It allows you to make more intelligent and ethical choices, and it contains plenty of surprises.
Spoiler alert, bananas really aren’t that bad when it comes to causing climate change. While he may not be the most famous Berners-Lee brother, this book is a great resource. So thanks Mike and thanks Tim1!
- The attention to detail in this scene is amazing. It’s a real NeXT workstation. If you want to see the original then you can visit CERN for free. ↩