Design library: Tech, transit, and truth in advertising

Doggerel is always on the lookout for good books about design and the built environment. Below, a GIS expert, a smart buildings specialist, and our own editor in chief recommend titles related (mostly) to technology and data.


From Bond Harper, a digital insight analyst in our Los Angeles office:

The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization
By Alberto Cairo

A great book on data visualization in the digital age.

Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution
By Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow

Janette Sadik-Khan, who became something of an urbanist folk hero during her tenure as New York City’s transportation commissioner, is a huge proponent of data-driven decision making. Like Michael Bloomberg, with whom she’s worked for many years, she lives by the words “In God we trust; everyone else bring data.”

Janette Sadik-Khan speaking in 2013

Start-Up City: Inspiring Private and Public Entrepreneurship, Getting Projects Done, and Having Fun
By Gabe Klein and David Vega-Barachowitz

Another one on the transportation geek side of things, this book was released last fall. Gabe, whose career has spanned running the Chicago Department of Transportation to working in start-ups and venture capital, shares how he’s combined digital tech with sheer force of will to get things done. Case in point: using SeeClickFix to allow Chicagoans to direct the government to problematic potholes.


From David Wilts, an integrated building technology specialist in Arup’s Chicago office:

Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization
By Lester R. Brown

The premise of the book is that our human collective’s Plan A is not working: with fossil-based energy and short-term thinking about agriculture and environment, we are not on a sustainable path for the planet. The book is a great overview of not only the threat but also possible solutions on a global level.

Smart Building Systems for Architects, Owners, and Builders
By James Sinopoli

Jim’s book provides a great overview of all of the systems that typically go into a building. Clients, grads, and even industry veterans can leverage this book to gain a better understanding of the systems while learning the vocabulary of the different team members involved.

Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist
Edited by Peter Hall and Michael Bierut

An affordable copy of this book will be hard to find, but it’s worth the effort. Tibor ran the greatest graphic design firm in the world at the end of the last century. The confluence of desktop publishing tools and the conscious deconstruction of our capitalist, materialist culture, whose dollars fuel media and business, created a new kind of advertising and design. Tibor’s firm, M&Co, was at the center of the hurricane. It created incredible work, fully understanding its role in shaping society. He purposefully knocked us out of our complacency in order to see truth — or at least see things in a new way. FIND THIS BOOK AND READ IT.


From Francesca Birks, a New York–based foresight specialist and Doggerel’s editor in chief:

What to Think about Machines That Think: Today’s Leading Thinkers on the Age of Machine Intelligence
Edited by John Brockman

A collection of short essays that’s part of the annual question series publisher Brockman has run since 1998, the book presents thoughts about AI from almost 200 scientists, philosophers, and others.

Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age
By James Essinger

Lovelace is now recognized as having invented the first computer program (with Charles Babbage). From the publisher’s blurb: “In Ada Lovelace, James Essinger makes the case that the computer age could have started two centuries ago if Lovelace’s contemporaries had recognized her research and fully grasped its implications.”

Ada Lovelace

The Responsive City: Engaging Communities through Data-Smart Governance
By Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford

Based on research from Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Data-Smart City Solutions program (which Goldsmith directs), this book aims to help urban leaders create stronger places using technology and information — featuring case studies from Chicago, Boston, New York, and beyond.

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