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O'Reilly Books for Barack--What Should We Send the White House?

 
By Sara Peyton
January 30, 2009 | Comments: 28

We can't help but feel concerned that Barack Obama, the most technologically-connected President ever, faces an out-of-date, inefficient technological platform. According to news accounts the executive branch's computer and technology equipment is a "jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts." Sounds like a mess. In fact, writes Washington Post reporter Anne Komblut, Obama's media team, who were accustomed to working on Macintoshes, "found computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software. Laptops were scarce, assigned to only a few people in the West Wing."

We know our books could help Barack and his staff sort out the wiring, upgrade the software, and create secure networks. That's why we want to send the new White House staff a box of O'Reilly books. And we want your input. We think they need Security Power Tools, Network Warrior, Web Security Testing Cookbook, Facebook: The Missing Manual, Essential System Administration, and Asterisk: The Future of Telephony.

But we're sure they could use some more. Tell us which O'Reilly books you think we should send the Barack and his White House team--and why. We'll get them delivered--and soon.


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28 Comments

Not a tech book, or even an O'Reilly book: for that matter, but I have to mention it.

I've been regretting I didn't go all out, and give the maximum to the campaign back before Iowa, just so I could have a chance to hand Obama a copy of James P. Carse's "Finite and Infinite Games."

It's hard to articulate what makes this book so special, but you can find a lecture by the author on Google video (we'll miss you Google video...) given at The Long Now Foundation, which will likely convince you that it is.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-962221125884493114

Nice idea - and one we applied back in 1992 when we sent copies of The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog to every member of Congress in order to evangelize the internet.

However, I understand that since then, they've tightened gifting rules. You can't make gifts of anything over $25, I believe. This is to keep people in government from accepting bribes.

I bet a box of O'Reilly books would be a great bribe right around now.

Of course, given the state of White House technology (one staffer told me just today that she was amazed to find her new office equipped with a typewriter!), perhaps we just have to find out of print books that are no longer marketable because they are so old :-)

Maybe we can just have them fall off a truck somewhere in the vicinity of the White House, and send out a tweet to @barackobama so they find them before the homeless guy down the street puts them on eBay!

@Tim -- maybe a month's subscription to Safari. That's about $25...

I have to agree with @jchris. I have a stack of Finite and Infinite games to give out as gifts. Really great for setting perspective.

Create a wish-list on safari or outside. Have people recommend a book and why.

There are three types of books. One set for President Obama, one for his tech staff and one for educating the non-tech staff.

It will be a big list. So as @chris suggested, an unlimited Safari subscription either discounted or free. We can all pitch in (if it costs too much). This is defintely stuff worth doing.

Dorai

I'm going to vote for some free/open source cultural classics.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric S. Raymond
Free as in Freedom by Richard Stallman
Open Sources by Chris DiBona and Sam Ockman

It isn't necessary to get him to agree on every point, but I would love knowing he has been exposed to every point.

I know he didn't publish them here, but I bet if we asked him nicely, Lawrence Lessig would throw in copies of his books. If not, I'm sure many of us would pitch in to buy them. I'll start with a copy of Free Culture (O'Reilly staff: send me an email if you want/need me to follow through on payment and I gladly will).

Sponsor a volunteer young whipersnapper who already knows what is in the shelf full of O'Reilly books, how to use them, and how to ask for help, including asking for copies of whatever is needed. They probably have a way to donate a book to a local library and automatically check them out to the staff, so that when the staff is done with a book that you send, they return it to the library. If they need it again, they can get it from the library or request another copy if it is not immediately available.

I'd give him a Make subscription. Remind him that the things we can do ourselves for ourselves can make the most difference, and that nothing is so dificult or complex that you can't get your teeth into it. Plus I'd love to see a home made wind turbine over the east wing!

Making- good for the soul.

Based on that article (and HTTP headers of whitehouse.gov, seems they use ASP.NET):

Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual
AppleScript: The Missing Manual
Office 2008 for Macintosh: The Missing Manual
PCs: The Missing Manual
Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide

Learning ASP.NET 3.5
Programming ASP.NET 3.5
Build Your Own ASP.NET 3.5 Website Using C# & VB
Programming ASP.NET AJAX, 1st Edition
C# 3.0 Cookbook
C# 3.0 Design Patterns
Head First C#
Learning C# 3.0
Programming C# 3.0
C# 3.0 Pocket Reference
C# 3.0 in a Nutshell

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide
CSS: The Definitive Guide
Ajax: The Definitive Guide
DHTML: The Definitive Guide
JScript and DHTML Cookbook
Mastering Regular Expressions

-----

These cover the usual technical issues with PCs, Macintoshes, and then programming and web design books for their web staff.

I forgot to mention Head First Design Patterns.

Oh yeah, or you could just send them a laptop with all O'Reilly books in PDF form. I think that would be the most efficient space-wise and least expensive, too. Not only that, you'd save a bunch of trees.

Crowdsource an Amazon wishlist and then schedule a day for collaborative delivery?

The list can then extend beyond O'Reilly books...

It all depends on the techno experience and background. Maybe this jumbled mess of wires is the best Security Front ever posed to the Internet. Some fumble along not knowing their computers are filled with all sorts of viruses & pick-pocketing programs because they are comforted that a piece of software is claiming to secure their computer. Maybe the mess of wires keeps us busy talking but they've advanced to telepathy!

Author, Computer Appliance Learning Maintenance Manual
Stop the Electronic Pick-Pocket

Since the new whitehouse.gov is using Microsoft technology, I suspect they have other Microsoft server based tools in place like SharePoint.

Pls. send them "SharePoint for Project Management" to help jump start efficient collaboration in managing projects they are working on.

Considering that this is the most technical president ever, perhaps it is time to offer some services on wireless technology, and wireless security, I am amazed and ashamed that the Harvard MBA's, JD's and phD's, have not a secure plan for a wireless White House for the 21st century. I want to develop one and offer my services, oh I forgot I am not a college grad! Sorry, "good job Burnie." There goes my chances. Not O'Reilly but here is something:
http://wireless.utk.edu/overview.html just use yahoo.

How about sending me the iPhone SDK book I ordered nearly 6 months ago? Sorry for the rant. Reading about giving the president books he'll most likely never see or read momentarily touched a nerve. Just don't forget about us customers while you're trying to solve all the world's problems.

BOOKS !!!! these people need someone to go in there, train them, and actually help them do it. You know that most people that work are jumping over hoops to meet unrealistic deadlines on poorly planned projects designed to boost the egos of their bosses, who are doing the same for their bosses, and so on. There's no time for these people to read books while following their marching orders.

For these people to do it right the first time, I think we need to come to an overwhelming consensus regarding who would be the best to just help them do the implementations right the first time - and avoid the paralysis of analysis and internal bickering that a lot of people with a little knowledge (as they read their book fragments) will create.

Let's vote on who to send up there. I nominate that we send Tim O.

Hello Tom,

Do you mean this iPhone SDK book -- http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596154059/ ? If so, it came out last week. Send me your order number and I'll look into it for you. allen at oreilly dot com.

Regards, --Allen

Instead of books I would suggest some internet links, pdf's, (those are on a disk and it's not at hand now) and specially I strongly suggest the use of linux (ubuntu or kubuntu will do).

How about a nutshell guide that explains how Sweden solved its banking crisis in the early 90s? Or how Denmark solved the problem of electronic patient health care record keeping earlier this decade? Or, more generally, guides that discuss banking system annoyances and health care system annoyances.

What O'Reilly books are in the white house library now?

Was there a book "dummy" book for republican presidents?

I propose a new O'Reily book, projected sale price $24.99, "Econometric Hacks, updating Input-Output coefficients to reflect the post rust-belt economy and rise of ponzie street finance." What are the expected short and long term returns of various stimulus projects?

The American economy in 20 years cannot be rubber-tire/parking lot based. The urban/mass-transit way of life will be more efficient. Investing in cars and roads is a long term looser.

Fund an O'Reilly book to document Obama's vision of the future.

Get the link of the list of proposed stimulus projects widley publicized. Fund prize for the best analysis of proposals.

I pray that taking these kinds of pot shots on Monday morning will be forgiven.
CM

A total Unix/Linux White House could be an option! :)

Doesn't President Obama have a MacBook with OS X?
Give them an all access pass to Safari Unix and Linux texts.


How about Flex -- I'm partial to Flex is why. It can go right next to The Prince and Das Kapital.

Obama raised hundreds of millions of dollars, he can afford to buy any book he needs. It might be better to ask Obama how O'Reilly can help train the next generation of programmers. Offering a free Safari subscriptions to every school in America would be a great place to start.

Sara Peyton
In November, not two weeks after winning the election and still two months from becoming commander in chief, Barack Obama brought the government into the 21st century.

Not so long ago we came up with a patent to Finite and Infinite Games. Without discourtesy, me and my lovely wife would like to infer the subtitle: "The Family Possibilities of America." My wife, Gwen, is a librarian in the school system and I, Arthur, feel that many people are left behind who have no adoptive authority to become a 'major' family. There are too many nonpartison individuals in our society without shelter or care. Why cannot a person like me or my wife have more than just a familial family of our own name "Luke" in accord. I have taught school since 1979 and my wife punctually in constrict operative to America's facing away from homeless children-Spanish, Equadorian, Haitian, Causcasian, without support for a bill nameless that I wish to one day propose. I want to inure my name Luke to constant individuals who could carry my name to their own so citizenship is universal to other countries around the world. We, or as I with my beloved wife Gwen, care a sundry about propositions of nonclomenture "indudwo" who have no name. May there be one day where a kingdom of heaven has a place to call "King Arthur" serving God and his country with adoration of matrony. Amenew.

tNot so long ago we came up with a patent to Finite and Infinite Games. Without discourtesy, me and my lovely wife would like to infer the subtitle: "The Family Possibilities of America." My wife, Gwen, is a librarian in the school system and I, Arthur, feel that many people are left behind who have no adoptive authority to become a 'major' family. There are too many nonpartison individuals in our society without shelter or care. Why cannot a person like me or my wife have more than just a familial family of our own name "Luke" in accord. I have taught school since 1979 and my wife punctually in constrict operative to America's facing away from homeless children-Spanish, Equadorian, Haitian, Causcasian, without support for a bill nameless that I wish to one day propose. I want to inure my name Luke to constant individuals who could carry my name to their own so citizenship is universal to other countries around the world. We, or as I with my beloved wife Gwen, care a sundry about propositions of nonclomenture "indudwo" who have no name. May there be one day where a kingdom of heaven has a place to call "King Arthur" serving God and his country with adoration of matrony. Amenew.//2

 

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