For some reason I decided that I can't remove a book from the Currently Consuming section until I talk about it. Here's two that need off the list.
Mastering Virtual Teams: I'm working on three projects right now where we don't have everyone in the same place (two at the day job plus the Origins Awards), so I was hoping for some good answers from this book. What I got was two general principles with some specific advice. The principles are these:
- Different tasks have different needs when it comes to collaboration and communication technology. Choose technology appropriate to your tasks.
- Be aware of how different cultural backgrounds (be they national, organizational, or functional) will affect aspects of you team dynamics.
This is good stuff, but I did find myself hoping the book spend more time showing how these ideas apply to particular situations than it did. It also suffered from some organization problems. The big one was that in the section on tech, it showed for each technology what its strengths and weakness are. That's fine, but if I'm choosing a technology based on the task I have hand (as the book recommends I do), I need the lookup table to go the other way. If I know we need to brainstorm, I want the book to tell me what my best choice for that task is; I don't want to have to look at each choice in turn and see how it compares in the brainstorming category.
Overall: Worth reading if you're completely new to the topic (e.g. you haven't seen Geert Hofstede's framwork for assessing culture before), but probably not the Single Most Indespendible Book On The Topic.
The Thin Man: I picked this up from Borders last weekend because it (and The Big Sleep) jumped off an endcap at me. (I mean this metaphorically, not that I'm notably clumsy.) I'd never actually read any Dashiell Hammett, nor had I seen any of The Thin Man films. (This latter fact left me at considerable disadvantage during the drive from Chicago to GenCon last year, when Greg Stolze and Ken Hite were discussing at some length a hypothetical remake of the series.) I enjoyed it, though I found the nigh-constant use of dialogue vaguely disorienting.
Overall: It was nice quick read, so I'm tempted to go back and fill in with Hammett's other novels.