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The Tempo Reading List: Timing and Decision-Making

Venkatesh Rao
The list author says: "A big list of excellent books that cover every aspect of decision-making. Plus a few not-so-great ones that nevertheless offer some unique value. The focus is on practical, non-technical (both not necessarily "popular science") books that talk about real-world human decision-making and timing in both right-brained and left-brained ways. This list will evolve and grow quite a bit in the next few months, so check back frequently."
A Geography Of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist
A Geography Of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist
"Rifkin's book is one of the most interesting looks at the diversity of time perceptions across different cultures. His survey is at once prosaic and empirical on the one hand, and qualitative and literary on the other. He intersperses his statistics-based analysis with lyrical interludes, meditating on things such as the relation between waiting and status relationships."
Time Wars: The Primary Conflict in Human History (A Touchstone book)
Time Wars: The Primary Conflict in Human History (A Touchstone book)
"Rifkin's book is a very politicized take on time, positing "time wars" between the ever-accelerating culture of time in the age of computers and the Web, on the one hand, and slower models of time. Curiously, unlike other leftist writers, he actually defends traditional 'clock' time, which others see as being equally unnatural, compared to natural rhythms and social, event time."
A Sideways Look at Time
A Sideways Look at Time
"Griffiths book is frankly, not very good. In fact it is quite terrible for the most part, written with a certain amount of shrill feminism. Still, it is a study in how political time can get, and provides some insight into how time can be viewed by those who've been marginalized by the march to dominance of clock time and its descendants"
The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition)
The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition)
"The classic that first pointed out the problems of waterfall engineering."
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
"Traffic is a great example domain for decision-making, and a running example through Tempo. Vanderbilt's book is a great in-depth look."
The Society of Mind
The Society of Mind
"A foundational exploration of how the mind works."
Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why it Matters
Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why it Matters
"Excellent exploration of online decision-making."
On War, Indexed Edition
On War, Indexed Edition
"The source of the coup d'oeil concept used in Tempo, and a general classic in narrative-driven decision-making."
The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 (Volume 27)
The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 (Volume 27)
"The classic on naval history and strategy"
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War
"An excellent biography of John Boyd, a pivotal figure in the modern study of decision-making."
On The Experience Of Time
On The Experience Of Time
"An early classic on how time is experienced, from the 1930s"
The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life
The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life
"A somewhat flawed but insightful book on subjective time perception and attitudes. The book is based on a survey called the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory which you can take online. It assumes a rather naive framing of time, however."
Designing for Situation Awareness: An Approach to User-Centered Design
Designing for Situation Awareness: An Approach to User-Centered Design
"Endsley is credited with the modern definition of situation awareness. Technical volume, not meant for random lay reading."
Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself
Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself
"An excellent way to set the context and right mental models for modern career decision-making."
Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage
Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage
"You can get surprising insights about how people make life decisions by digging into what they throw away. Garbology has insights about things like the impact of our cooking decisions."
Clockspeed : Winning Industry Control in the Age of Temporary Advantage
Clockspeed : Winning Industry Control in the Age of Temporary Advantage
"The classic on the tempo of economic life in industry."
Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre
Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre
"A major reference for Tempo, an excellent source (almost the only good source) for really understanding the psychology of creative improvisation in real-time decision-making."
Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason (David Hume Series)
Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason (David Hume Series)
"An excellent scholarly treatment of the fundamentals of decision-making from a Stanford philosopher. The source of the BDI (belief-desire-intention) model cited in Tempo."
The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy's View of History
The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy's View of History
"A classic on archetype-thinking."