Book Review – The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers

Most books about business are written by people involved in creating and managing companies: founders, CEOs, or venture capitalists. They are able to leverage their unique experience building businesses because they have been in the thick of things. But this approach can also lead to a certain type of tunnel vision: looking at something from the inside can often make it difficult to see how something actually operates.

Gillian Tett, author of The Silo Effect, comes to business from an interesting background: she trained as an anthropologist, earning a PhD from Cambridge University. Her experience studying social groups gives her a different point of view from those who have only looked at businesses from within, and this allows her to examine the way companies are structured without the preconceptions that most executives have. She is also a high-level executive with The Financial Times, so she can look at companies from both perspectives.

Read the rest of the article on The Startup Finance Blog.

Why Is It So Difficult to Listen to Audiobooks on the Apple Watch?

I listen to audiobooks often, and sometimes I would like to be able to listen to them on my Apple Watch, via AirPods, rather than have to have my iPhone with me when I go walking. Audible’s app for the Apple Watch is pathetically bad; not only is it nearly impossible to sync audiobooks to the device (I discuss that in this article), but if do you manage to do so, it doesn’t correctly sync its position, so if you go back to another device to listen, you lose your place. (See this Reddit thread.)

In watchOS 6, which will be released on September 19, and for which the golden master (the final version released to developers) is now available, there is a new Audiobooks app. But this app can only play audiobooks you’ve purchased from Apple. Even if you sync audiobooks from Audible or audiobooks you may have ripped from CDs, you cannot sync them to the Apple Watch.

I would think that most regular audiobook listeners are Audible subscribers, since their subscription model makes books much cheaper than what Apple charges. Since you can sync them to the Books app on the iPhone, it’s odd that you cannot put them on the Apple Watch. This might have something to do with the different DRM that is used for Audible content, but if Apple can play these books in their app on iOS, it shouldn’t be any different on watchOS. It’s worth noting that the Audible app on iOS can see and play books in the Books app, if they are from Audible.

The new Audiobooks app says it syncs up to five hours of a book to the Apple Watch, which is problematic. I understand that most people won’t be listening to, say, an eight-hour audiobook on their watch, but some might want to, such as if they’re on a long flight. Since the new Apple Watch contains 32 GB storage, it should be able to hold more than this. (The Series 4 which I have currently has 16 GB.)

Audiobooks are just audio content, and should be easy enough to sync to the Apple Watch. Apple has had a long relationship with Audible; not only is the company the only one – other than Apple – whose DRM-protected content is playable in iTunes, but Audible also provides Apple with the audiobooks that the latter company sells. Granted, Apple wants people to buy audiobooks from them rather than Audible, if possible, but preventing people from listening to audiobooks they haven’t purchased from Apple seems unfair.

Photo Book Review: Bill Brandt, Shadow & Light

BrandtBill Brandt was born in Germany, and moved to England when he was around 30 years old. He began documenting British people, at a time when this wasn’t a common way to make photographs, and published two books in the 1930s. He then went on to shoot photos for popular magazines, and became one of the greatest British photographers.

This book, Bill Brandt: Shadow & Light (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) is a retrospective of his work.

Read the rest of the review on my photo website.

Photo Book Review: The Open Road, Photography & the American Road Trip

Open road coverWhen I buy a photo book, I tend to be more interested in monographs than thematic books. But I’ve always been interested in the road trip, particularly in the United States, where this idea is almost as iconic as the European “grand tour” of the 19th century. People have set out on cross-country trips since the car became commonplace, sometimes to move to a new city for a new job, and sometimes for pleasure.

Many photographers have done this too, as a way of looking for a way to portray the multiple faces of the United States, and its contradictions. This book, The Open Road, published by the Aperture Foundation (Amazon.com, Amazon UK), looks at road trips by 18 photographers, from Robert Frank in the 1950s to contemporary photographers.

In 336 pages, with 248 color and duotone images, this book paints a picture of the United States, as seen through the eyes of a number of great photographers. It makes no attempt to be exhaustive, but focuses on a number of photographers who have made iconic photos in this genre. Each photographer has their own chapter, and the chapters run chronologically, from Robert Frank’s 1955-1956 photos through the 2005-2008 photos of Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs.

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Photo Book Review: Elliot Erwitt’s Paris & New York

New york paris box set elliott erwitt teneuesWhile Elliot Erwitt was technically not a street photographer, the black and white photos in this book fit comfortably in this genre. He shot for advertising, and was a Magnum photographer, shooting some of the most famous people in the world, and working for some of the major magazines, such as Collier’s, Look, Life, and others.

This two-book slipcased box set combines two of his books, Elliot Erwitt’s Paris and Elliot Erwitt’s New York. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) With photos from as early as the 1940s and as late as the 21st century, each book offers a wide palette of subjects that are all rooted in their cities. His Parisian photos all have the feel of the classic French style of street photography, but with Erwitt’s often quirky subjects and composition (and lots of dogs).

Paris

The New York photos tend to be from the 1950s and 1960s, with some older and newer photos, and feature a number of photos of celebrities, such as Arthur Miller, Jack Kerouac, Nelson Algren, Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow, and more. But there are also some wonderful street shots, the type that anyone working in this genre would love to catch.

New york

There is a remarkable consistency of tone throughout these photos. If it were not for the graininess of some of the older photos, and the way the people dress and the cars they drive, you would be hard pressed to date many of them. A master of black and white, and of spontaneous photography, Erwitt should be an inspiration to anyone interested in black and white or in street photography.

And the Paris book contains what may be the best street photograph ever, which you can see at the top of this article.