by Tim O'Reilly
Suggested, that is, if you want to understand my thinking. You
might enjoy these books in any case!
Rissa Kerguelen, by F.M. Busby. A science-fiction book I
read at about the time I was starting the company, and that
influenced me deeply. One key idea is the role of
entrepreneurship as a "subversive force." In a world dominated
by large companies, it is the smaller companies that keep
freedom alive, with economics at least one of the
Another critical idea is that of "the long view"--the idea
that some developments take years, and that you cannot control
them, but can set them in motion, gauge their direction, and
meet up with them years later. (In the story, this view is
enforced by the logistics of star travel at near-light speeds,
with years elapsing on the outside while months elapse for the
This book gave me the courage to submerge myself in the details
of a fundamentally trivial business (technical writing) and to
let go of my earlier hopes of writing deep books that would
change the world.
Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu, translated by Witter Bynner.
My personal religious philosophy, stressing the rightness of
what is. "The way to do is to be."
Islandia, by Austin Tappan Wright. A utopian novel
written in the 1930's, about an imaginary country where
technology has not yet hastened the pace of life, and where
people find time to nurture relationships and the land they
live on. Also a novel of "the long view."
On Writing Well, by William Zinsser. Not in the same
exalted category as the other three books. I wouldn't say it
influenced me at all, since my principles of writing were
established long before I read it. However, it does capture
many things that I believe about writing, and since we are currently
in the writing business, it's a worthwhile read.