Kevin Kelly

Executive Editor

Kevin Kelly is the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and a former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Review. He has also been a writer, photographer, conservationist, and student of Asian and digital culture.

Book Recommendations


Finite and Infinite Games

by James P. Carse

The basic premise that changed my mind was to understand that in the world there were two kinds of games. There were finite games in which there were winners and losers. We often call that a zero sum. If somebody wins, someone else has to lose. In those kind of games the rules are fixed. You have fairness. If someone is breaking the rules, it’s unfair. You don’t want to play. You play until somebody wins and most of the games in the world, they’re about winning and losing, but there’s another kind of game called the infinite game and there aren’t winners or losers. The rules are not fixed. You’re kind of constantly changing the rules just to extend the game and the purpose of the game is just to keep the game going.

Kevin Kelly, source
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The Innovator's Dilemma

by Clayton M. Christensen

People think that it’s always obvious that you want to innovate, but the point of this book is that it’s actually not obvious, that you actually have to kind of go beyond the obvious. You have to kind of push through the obvious because the obvious thing is to not innovate. He gives case studies about why he believes this is true and that aha to me really changed my mind about thinking about how you be creative because to some people, being creative seems natural and the obvious thing to do, but if you really are creative, it’s not going to always be so obvious.

Kevin Kelly, source

How Buildings Learn

by Stewart Brand

Stewart Brand wrote a book that I really found changed my mind about the spaces that I live in, the structures that we work in, the buildings that surround our lives. His book is called How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand. It’s an illustrated book with lots of pictures, but the main thesis of this book is that when you make a building, when you build something, when you build a structure, when you build a home or office building or even a factory, you’re making a prediction about what you think it’s going to be used for because you’re going to design it for certain uses in mind. Like all predictions, most of these buildings will be not used over the longterm for what they were originally built for.

Kevin Kelly, source

Open Borders

by Bryan Caplan

Open Borders is a graphic novel. That’s what we call a comic book for adults and it’s a graphic novel written by an economist, Bryan Caplan, and the graphic novel is illustrated by an artist, Zach Weinersmith. And together they have made this comic book for adults, which is about the science and ethics of immigration. It’s probably one of the most radical books that I have read in years.

Kevin Kelly, source

Shantaram

by Gregory David Roberts

I actually recommend that if people are going to try this, you actually to get the Audible version and listen to it. It runs on and on, but it'd be one of those books that you wish will never end.

Kevin Kelly, source

So Good They Can't Ignore You

by Cal Newport

There is a book that I'm recommending by Cal Newport. It's called So Good They Can't Ignore You. This changed my mind because I bought into the New Age California dogma of follow your bliss, one will follow. He makes a really good argument and convinced me that's actually not very good advice, that what you really want to do is to master something and to use your mastering of something as a way to get to your passion

Kevin Kelly, source

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko

by Daniel H. Pink

I've given that away to young people because it's, for me, the best summary of ... Again, it's not how to become successful; it's how to become indispensable, too. If you know a young person who is just starting out, hand them that book. It's very easy for them to read. Again, it's graphic novel. It's not threatening. It's fun. It'll give these five great principles for starting out and helping them go orient themselves as they start working, in the working life.

Kevin Kelly, source