Book Review: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

(5/5 stars) This is an exploration of shame as a punishment, as a fundamental human impulse, as a force for good and bad. Ronson goes into a little bit of the history of how shame has been used in the past, but focuses especially on how shame functions in our internet-based society today.  To wit, he explores several contemporary case studies in shaming.

This book functions in some ways as a collection of essays rather than a structured exploration of ideas. As such, there are points where he pursues aspects of shame that seem to be a digression from the core theme, for example the parts about Radical Truth and humiliation paraphilia.  Those parts don’t make the book less interesting, but readers should be warned: you probably won’t come away with any strong conclusions about what can be done about internet lynch mobs. 

In sum, this book is funny and thought-provoking. I highly recommend it.

Book Review: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carryrou

Summary: (5/5 stars) I think I heard about this book via an interview with the author, John Carryrou, on a podcast.  He’s the journalist who scooped this story for The Wall Street Journal.  I decided to pick it up for two reasons. First of all, I’m fascinated by stories of such audacious frauds and that’s what Theranos is.  Second, I wasn’t an investor, but as an observer, I was totally taken in by Elizabeth Holmes’ story and what Theranos claimed it was able to do and I wanted to understand it better.  The real story was worse than I thought!