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FCW : October 15, 2012
30 October 15, 2012 FCW.COM Bookshelf 5 books you should have read by now Red Ink by David Wessel Crown Business, July 2012 Fiscal considerations have always shaped policy decisions and agency operations, but the federal budget process has reached new depths of dysfunction. David Wessel, the Wall Street Journal s economics editor, has covered the budget for 20 years, and his latest book offers a succinct and sobering account of just how bad things have gotten. Not a happy read, to be sure. But with the threat of sequestration still looming and par- tisan accusations ying, "Red Ink" provides a valuable reality check --- and even some ideas for correcting course. Quoted: "Wages and bene ts account for $1 of every $8 the government spends, not an insigni cant sum. But eliminating the federal workforce entirely would have pared the federal de cit in 2011 by only one-third." Too Big to Know by David Weinberger Basic Books, January 2012 Is today s abundance of networked knowledge making us smarter or stupider? When David Weinberger asks that question, he is referring to the changes wrought by the Internet writ large, but for the federal government --- no slouch when it comes to creating, cataloging and (sometimes) sharing information --- the issues raised in "Too Big to Know" have particular relevance. Can the U.S. Patent and Trademark Of ce effectively tap the wisdom of crowds? Do the information dumps to Data.gov have a civic downside? Can agencies informa- tion sharing help stem the group polariza- tion that the Internet seems to encourage? Weinberger does not explicitly answer those questions, but his book provides a valuable framework for those who need to. Quoted: "We thought that knowledge was scarce when in fact it was just that our shelves were small." Networked by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman MIT Press, May 2012 Long before BYOD and online engagement strategies entered the federal consciousness, Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman were studying the digitization of civic life. Now with "Networked," the two scholars explore the effects of what they term the "triple revolution" of social networks, mobile connectivity and the personalized Internet. Although other experts have warned that social networks can degrade "real-world" connections, Rainie and Wellman are more optimistic. The networked world is a reality, they write, and "being networked is not so scary." With reams of research and wide- ranging case studies, they show how this "new social operating system" is transform- ing relationships, work and public informa- tion --- usually for the better. Quoted: "Quantity does equal quality. Preliminary research shows that each tie in a large network is likely to be more supportive than in smaller networks." There s room on your nightstand for more than FCW and digital government white papers. Here are ve suggestions for some much-needed perspective. dI k T Bi t K BY TROY K. SCHNEIDER
October 30, 2012