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Book & Gift Recommendations for the Holidays
I read a lot this fall and still have a lot to get through. Here are my favorites! Plus - some of my favorite gifts for the holidays.
I hope everyone in the United States had a good Thanksgiving. I enjoyed Friendsgiving here in DC which involved plenty of food, drink, and football (American and European). I’m writing this to you while watching Michigan play The Ohio State University. I’m rooting for Ohio State.
If I’m reading the virtual room correctly none of us are really in the mood to face the real world yet. Musk has had plenty of more antics and things continue to evolve. However, the joy of the holidays is that chance to disconnect and ignore all of that. It’s also a time to get a lot of reading in (at least for me) so I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve been enjoying this fall. I’m also going to share some of my favorite gifts for people in case you are stumped for that hard-to-buy-for-person.
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First, while I’m not leaving Twitter I have found myself using it a lot less since Musk took over. A lot of the people I followed have left and it’s just not as useful as it once was. If you are one of those folks who have left the bird site you can follow me by subscribing to this newsletter if you haven’t already, follow me on Mastodon at @firstname.lastname@example.org, Post.News, Instagram, and/or LinkedIn. Moreover, if you are looking for some help on transferring your Twitter network to Mastodon or how to use it Daniel Schuman has some good tips and tools here.
Second, this week I’ll be participating in the Knight Foundation’s Informed Conference in Miami. It’s a fantastic line-up and I’m excited to see many of my fellow attendees. There aren’t any more in-person slots available but you can register to watch virtually here. One key last-minute addition has been a conversation between Kara Swisher and Yoel Roth - the former head of trust and safety at Twitter. Roth recently left and this will be his first interview since doing so.
Ok, onto the books.
There have been a lot of good books released this fall. The ones on my list include:
Like, Comment, Subscribe: How YouTube Drives Google's Dominance and Controls Our Culture by Mark Bergen - This was a fantastic look at the making of YouTube. I particularly enjoyed the parts about its early foray into politics and content moderation decisions.
Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by Maggie Haberman - Haberman is the reporter on Trump and while I didn’t need as much of the early Trump life as she provided (though I understand why she did) the book overall is a very good historical account of his term.
Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America's Mayor by Andrew Kirtzman - Every time I tell someone that I worked on Giuliani’s presidential campaign I always have to also add that it was when he was known as America’s mayor. I’ve always wondered how and why he changed into the man he is today and Andrew’s account helped provide some insight into that.
Smart Brevity: Write Less. Say More. Get Heard. by Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen - This is an extremely quick read with good tips on how to write clearly and concisely. Writing short things is harder than long ones and this could be a great gift for that college student or recent grad in your life.
Meme Wars: The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America by Joan Donovan - Joan is one of the premier researchers about the impact of technology on society. This book is a good look back at the online narratives that led us to where we are today.
How to Stand Up to a Dictator by Maria Ressa - I first met Maria when I was in the Philippines ahead of their election in 2016. Her book comes out in the states on Tuesday but I had pre-ordered it from Amazon UK and it showed up for me on Monday. Maria’s story is strong, powerful, and unique. I plowed through this in two days and it’s an important tome about what journalists like Maria face in countries like the Philippines and the role technology has played in that.
Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump by Rachel Bade and Karoun Demirjian - Karoun is one of the other fellows in my cohort at Georgetown who I like a lot. I’ve just started this book and it’s a really interesting read if you like the ins and outs of Congress and all the palace intrigue.
These are books I have on my pile but haven’t read yet:
Empathy Economics: Janet Yellen’s Remarkable Rise to Power and Her Drive to Spread Prosperity to All by Owen Ullman by Owen Ullman
Selfie Democracy by Elizabeth Losh
"You Are Not Expected to Understand This": How 26 Lines of Code Changed the World Edited By Torie Bosch
Still need some gift ideas for the holidays? Here are some of my favorites:
Thread Talk Throws - My friend Hannah Kay is an inspiration. She is a domestic violence survivor and created Thread Talk to sell high-quality blankets and cozy products that fund shelters for other survivors. And these are the BEST blankets I’ve ever used. They are my go-to gift for any occasion.
Custom 4 things tote bag - The Shop Forward puts all proceeds to various charities which makes this a doubly great gift to get people. Make custom totes with people’s favorite things. I’ve done ones where I list people’s dogs, their favorite sports, and whatever they like!
Custom Doodle - I worked with Amber Marchand at the RNC way back in the day and she draws custom doodles to help buy food and plant little pantries through the Be the Good Project. These are the best unique gift to give someone that they might never do for themselves.
Ornament with books read that year: Have a reader in your life? Get them an ornament with some of their favorite books!
Personalized cutting board - For that cook in your life - get them a cutting board with their name on it.
Corkcicle - When in doubt I turn to Corkcicle. Whether the person you are buying for is a wine, coffee, or just plain water drinker they have the vessel for you that will keep it hot - or cold - for a very long time. Yeti and Hydroflask are also good go-tos.
Mophie - Last by not least, everyone needs more power. If I’m really not sure what to get someone I get them one of these power banks so they never lose charge on their phone while on the go.
What I’m Reading
Regulate.Tech: Online Content Moderation
Georgetown Law: Press Release for Social Media: The Canary in the Coal Mine
Koch Industries: Communications Manager
No Labels: Sr. Fundraiser
Arnold Ventures: Director of Advocacy, Criminal Justic
McCain Institute: Social Media Manager, Digital Communications
National Alliance of Forest Owners: Director for Communications
Woodberry Associates: Senior Associate, Advocacy Management
Bipartisan Policy Center: Project Assistant, Campus Free Expression Project
Duco’s mission is to empower leading companies to operate safely, securely, and responsibly by mobilizing the world’s leading experts to help solve complex challenges. Duco HQ works with companies to scope projects, then matches leading policy, security, and trust & safety experts with paid-project work. Projects include reports, executive briefings, risk assessments, strategic advising, on-platform or cross-platform content review/labeling, etc. You can sign up with Duco here, and reach out to Sofi Arimany at email@example.com if you have questions.
Center for Humane Technology: Chief of Staff
Center for Humane Technology: Executive Producer, Your Undivided Attention
Center for Humane Technology: Development Director
Topics to keep an eye on that have a general timeframe of the first half of the year:
Facebook 2020 election research
Oversight Board opinion on cross-check
Senate & House hearings, markups, and potential votes
Second Summit of Democracy
November 28-30 - Knight Foundation: INFORMED: Conversations on Democracy in the Digital Age (Only virtual seats available)
November 2022 - Fiji Election
December 6, 2022 - BPC 2022 Election Summit
December 17, 2022 - Tunisia Election
2022 TBD - Libya Election
January 2023 - Czech Republic Election
January 7: Meta/Trump Decision
February 5, 2023 - Cyprus Election
February 16, 2023 - Platforms have to announce EU numbers to comply with DSA
February 23, 2023 - Nigeria Election
February 2023 - Djibouti Election
February 2023 - Monaco Election
March 5, 2023 - Estonia Election
March 10 - 19: SXSW
March 20 - 24, 2023: Mozilla Fest
March 2023 - Antigua and Barbuda Election
March 2023 - Federated States of Micronesia Election
March 2023 - Guinea Bissau Election
March 2023 - Sierra Leone Election
April 30, 2023 - Benin Election
April 30, 2023 - Paraguay Election
April 2023 - Andorra Election
April 2023 - Finland Election
April 2023 - Montenegro Election
May 7, 2023 - Thailand Election
May 15-16: Copenhagen Democracy Summit
June 5-9: RightsCon
June 25, 2023 - Guatemala Election
June 25, 2023 -Turkey Election
July 2023 - Cambodia Election
July 2023 - Timor-Leste Election
July 2023 - Zimbabwe Election
August 6, 2023 - Greece Election
August 2023 - Eswatini Election
September 2023 - Mauritania Election
October 10, 2023 - Liberia Election
October 12, 2023 - Pakistan Election
October 22, 2023 - Switzerland Election
October 2023 - Argentina Election
October 2023 - Luxembourg Election
October 2023 - Oman Election
November 12, 2023 - Poland Election
November 20, 2023 - Marshall Islands Election
November 29, 2023 - Ukraine Election
November 2023 - Bhutan Election
November 2023 - Gabon Election
November 2023 - Rwanda Election
December 10, 2023 - Spain Election
December 2023 - Bangladesh Election
December 2023 - Democratic Republic of the Congo Election
December 2023 - Togo Election
TBD - Belarus Election
TBD - Cuba Election
TBD - Equatorial Guinea Election
TBD - Gabon Election
TBD - Guinea Election
TBD - Madagascar Election
TBD - Maldives Election
TBD - Myanmar Election
TBD - Singapore Election
TBD - South Sudan Election - (Unlikely to happen)
TBD - Turkmenistan Election
TBD - Tuvalu
TBD - Haiti
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