This book by Tim O’Reilly (Penguin Random House, 2017) is perfectly summed up by the dedication at the very front. “For all who work to make tomorrow better than today”. It’s impossible to predict what the future might hold, but for anyone working in any business, these are very uncomfortable times. With exponential growth in almost every technology-based business, the growing proliferation of artificial intelligence and the disruption of markets beyond any expectation, people are looking for certainty. While O’Reilly doesn’t promise that certainty, he alleviates some of the discomfort by offering us a system to help us see where we are and where we want to go. He describes his own book as a map, and himself as the mapmaker. We think that’s pretty accurate.
The book is broken into three sections: the first offers context in terms of what we are today. The second and third sections address what O’Reilly calls ‘platform thinking’ and the dominance of algorithms. Don’t worry if you don’t really understand these things – he does a great job of explaining what they are and why they will matter to you. The final section is a dose of optimism and a really interesting take on our role in all of this technology development. It’s not a light book, but in our view, it is essential reading for the modern age.