WTF? Book Summary - WTF? Book explained in key points
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WTF? summary

Tim O’Reilly

What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us

3.9 (50 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

WTF? by Tim O'Reilly is a thought-provoking analysis of the transformative power of technology. With insightful stories, he challenges us to question our current practices, values and beliefs, and to embrace innovation.

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    Digital platforms and algorithms have revolutionized the technology industry.

    Remember when you saw your first touchscreen phone or virtual-reality headset? Or when your first Uber car arrived at your doorstep? You may have thought, “WTF?” The new technologies just keep on coming – and they’re forever changing the world we live in.

    Two monumental developments are at the heart of the modern industry: artificial intelligence, in the form of algorithms, and modern digital platforms.

    Modern digital platforms are based on open-source software, which was developed in the 1990s. This type of software is free, and any user can access and edit it for the benefit of all – a model that’s diametrically opposed to closed-software platforms such as those used by Microsoft, who dominated the industry at the time by locking hardware developers into their operating systems.

    The shift began with the rise of Linux, and was highlighted in a 1997 paper by Eric Raymond called “The Cathedral and the Bazaar.” Rather than worshipping at the altar of Microsoft, Linux users worldwide, from hackers to developers, pooled their resources and encouraged the free trade of knowledge.

    This established a template for digital platforms, where the level of freedom and cooperation generates rapid growth. Modern companies such as Uber and Amazon are built around this model, acting either as hosts or as a marketplace to connect users

    But these platforms couldn’t operate at such a level of complexity without the algorithms that govern them.

    Every platform is run by multiple algorithms, each designed to complete a specific task. Computer algorithms can process enormous amounts of data in almost no time at all and manage complex functions that no human could handle, such as coordinating the vast Uber network of passengers and drivers.

    Once programmed, algorithms operate independently. Because of this, they’re often referred to as a sort of artificial intelligence, or AI. And their operations are only becoming more advanced.

    So, now that you understand the principles of these two developments, let’s take a look at the effects that they have on businesses and the world around them. First up: platforms.

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    What is WTF? about?

    WTF? (2017) documents the recent history and developments of modern digital technologies, and explains why, far from being harmful in and of themselves, these technologies only do damage to business and society when misunderstood by humans. Instead of fearing for the future, we should embrace it and use the attendant technological developments in ways that bring society up rather than push costs down.

    WTF? Review

    WTF? (2017) by Tim O'Reilly is a thought-provoking examination of the technology industry and its impact on society. Here are three reasons why this book is worth reading:

    • It presents insightful perspectives on technology's role in shaping the future, prompting readers to consider the ethical implications of advancements.
    • The book offers in-depth analysis of key trends and issues in the tech industry, providing a comprehensive understanding of its complex realities.
    • With its refreshing honesty and willingness to question established norms, it challenges readers to think critically and engage in meaningful conversations.

    Best quote from WTF?

    The US government originally designed GPS tracking systems for Air Force satellites; later, President Reagan offered it up for commercial use.

    —Tim O’Reilly
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    Who should read WTF??

    • Business leaders seeking to understand and implement digital technologies
    • Technophobes who want their fears pacified
    • People interested in the recent history of technology

    About the Author

    Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, a technical book publisher that seeks to share recent knowledge and developments. He has helped to identify and shape public responses to many of the biggest technological advances and trends of the last 30 years, and helped popularize terms such as “open-source software” and “Web 2.0.”

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    WTF? FAQs 

    What is the main message of WTF??

    The main message of WTF? is to embrace and navigate the rapid changes brought by technology and find ways to shape the future.

    How long does it take to read WTF??

    The reading time for WTF? varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is WTF? a good book? Is it worth reading?

    WTF? is a thought-provoking book that highlights the challenges and opportunities in today's world. It's definitely worth reading for those interested in technology and its impact on society.

    Who is the author of WTF??

    The author of WTF? is Tim O'Reilly.

    What to read after WTF??

    If you're wondering what to read next after WTF?, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The First Rule of Mastery by Michael Gervais
    • The Distraction Addiction by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
    • Do Breathe by Michael Townsend Williams