There are many themes that grace this page from time to time. Two of the most common are the rise of startup communities and the role that the Internet can play in allowing society to governing itself. And there are two books out this week that are must reads on these two topics. Further and in full disclosure, they are written by two very good friends. No conflict no interest as it were.
Let's start with Startup Communities by Brad Feld. I met Brad in 1996. He had just moved to Boulder Colorado and was going to help build a startup community there by building a market leading VC firm in Boulder. Sounds audacious? Yes. But he did it. As I was working on the same idea for the past sixteen years in NYC, I was able to watch a parallel universe forming in Boulder with Brad at the center. In Startup Communites, Brad tells us what he's learned from that experience and how the same thing can be done elswhere. If you want to create a Boulder or NYC tech scene in your community, this is your roadmap, bible, and textbook. You can get it on Kindle today and or pre-order the book for delivery next week.
On to Future Perfect by Steven Johnson. Back in the Spring, Steven emailed me a draft of this book. I put the PDF on my Kindle and started reading. I found myself yelling Yes, Yes, Yes as I was making my way through the chapters. I know most, if not all, of the stories in this book. I have been involved in some of them and have followed the others closely. Those stories tell me that there is a "case for progress in a networked age" and Steven makes that case as only he can, by telling the stories brilliantly and then wrapping the meaning of them together in a crisp, cohesive, and easy to understand narrative that leaves you with a framework to take out in the world. You can get Future Perfect on Kindle or in hardback right now as it was published earlier this week.
The comment thread on my Get Out The Vote post a couple days ago was downright depressing and full of anger and cynicism. So for all of you and everyone else, here is a short 3 min video from Steven talking about the ideas in his book and where they are going. If you need a shot of optimism this morning, watch it.