Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

Wed. Oct. 19, 2005: Late night at Robarts Library

David hits the stacks at the university, in the evening when it’s not busy.

(by David):  I have an alumnus library card for U. of Toronto, but access to journal articles requires full-time enrolment. The university library has a few public access terminals up in the stacks, so I can read the full selection of journals if I go to the university in person.

It’s a bit annoying that the university changes protocols every fall, so it takes a bit to find out the new ways. When I was at the university a few weeks ago, I couldn’t find the public access terminals amongst the two dozen that are immediately in front of the elevators on the 11th floor (where the business and economics books are). This time, I decided to try to find the terminals on the 9th floor. They turned out to not be outside the elevators, but hidden away in the stacks, near the books. The PCs have all been replaced, so the screens are a lot sharper than they used to be.

Between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night, it was relatively quiet. Students living on campus should be able to access library resources with their IDs, so they wouldn’t physically have to be in the Robarts building.

I usually don’t stay past the time that the library closes, but was trying to get the last few references done. At 11 p.m., they turned out the lights. At 11:10, there was a special elevator with the library patrol, picking up the last few stragglers. Since the elevators are shut down at 11 p.m., I guess that the alternative is to walk down the stairs.

Fri. Oct. 14, 2005: University College book sale

Another used book sale. The University College book sale is sometimes better and sometimes not as good as the Victoria College book sale. It’s usually got less philosophy, but a better selection of business books.

(by David): The UC book sale opens at noon on the Friday, so when I got there for 5 p.m., there wasn’t any line up

The treasure find of this trip was:

  • Chris Argyris and Donald A. Schon, Organizational Learning, A Theory of Action Perspective, Addison Wesley, 1978. It’s a trade paperback for $2. This is one of the most cited books in the management literature, and totally out of print. I think that Argyris doesn’t want it republished because he has newer publications, although they weren’t co-authored with Schon.

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but here’s a list of what I found

  • Smelser, Theory of Collective Behavior. I hadn’t heard of this book, but Smelser is one of the editors of The Handbook of Economic Sociology. Then the next day, I saw an article referencing this book.
  • Mumford, The Culture of Cities. I’ve seen this cited in urban planning books when I read Jane Jacobs, but I can’t remember whether in a positive or negative light!
  • Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, Riding the Waves of Culture. I saw Charles Hampden-Turner at the Bateson conference last November, and was impressed. He’s a very British academic, and I think leaves much of the consulting work to Trompenaars.
  • Horgan, The End of Science. DLH assigned a chapter from this book in his Demystification of Science class.
  • Bell, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society. Steve Haeckel referenced this book in Adaptive Enterprise, and I’ve never seen one in person.
  • Laurel, The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design. Frequently cited in the CSCW literature, it seems to be standard for grad students.
  • Greenleaf, Servant Leadership. I saw an article about this in Fortune, and had borrowed a copy from the library. There’s a religious foundation to the book, but it seems generally spiritual in nature rather than fundamentalist, so I’m okay with that.
  • Goldratt, The Goal. I’m definitely not a fan, so this is a case of know your enemy!
  • McGregor, The Human Side of Enterprise. A classic, but somewhat before my time. I think that McGregor is still around, but not very visible.
  • Slywotzky & Morrison, How Digital is Your Business? I didn’t want to pay full price for this book, but it’s okay used. I find that Slywotzky gradually evolves his content, so updates are worth having.
  • Miller & Van Loon, Darwin for Beginners. A comic book version. The boys like reading deep content this way.
  • McLuhan & Fiore, The Medium is the Massage. I saw a full-sized book last year, and probably should have bought that, instead of this paperback.

I bought some books that I’m pretty sure I previously own, specifically to give away. (They’re relatively cheap, and the proceeds go to alumni funds, so the books should go to a good home!)

  • Stafford Beer, Designing Freedom. This is a small paperback based on a CBC Massey Lectures series. Foundational work for emerging cyberneticians.
  • Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature. One of the pillars in systems science. This is the small paperback version, suitable for reading on a plane.
  • Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital. Another paperback for airplane reading.
  • Elliot Jaques, Requisite Organization. I’m not the biggest fan of Jaques, but some consulting clients swear by him. The cognitive abilities of leaders is one aspect of organizational development — but not the only one.
  • Jaques & Clement, Executive Leadership. The followup. I wonder if the same person donated both!

If anyone wants a book (or to borrow one), just let me know!

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