What We Are Reading Today: Prototype Nation by Silvia M. Lindtner

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Updated 16 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Prototype Nation by Silvia M. Lindtner

How did China’s mass manufacturing and “copycat” production become transformed, in the global tech imagination, from something holding the nation back to one of its key assets? Prototype Nation offers a rich transnational analysis of how the promise of democratized innovation and entrepreneurial life has shaped China’s governance and global image. With historical precision and ethnographic detail, Silvia Lindtner reveals how a growing distrust in Western models of progress and development, including Silicon Valley and the tech industry after the financial crisis of 2007–8, shaped the rise of the global maker movement and the vision of China as a “new frontier” of innovation.

Lindtner’s investigations draw on more than a decade of research in experimental work spaces—makerspaces, coworking spaces, innovation hubs, hackathons, and startup weekends—in China, the US, Africa, Europe, Taiwan, and Singapore, as well as in key sites of technology investment and industrial production—tech incubators, corporate offices, and factories. She examines how the ideals of the maker movement, to intervene in social and economic structures, served the technopolitical project of prototyping a “new” optimistic, assertive, and global China. In doing so, Lindtner demonstrates that entrepreneurial living influences governance, education, policy, investment, and urban redesign in ways that normalize the persistence of sexism, racism, colonialism, and labor exploitation.

Prototype Nation shows that by attending to the bodies and sites that nurture entrepreneurial life, technology can be extricated from the seemingly endless cycle of promise and violence.

What We Are Reading Today: The Man Who Ran Washington

Updated 27 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Man Who Ran Washington

Edited by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser

In The Man Who Ran Washington, veteran reporters Peter Baker (no relation) and Susan Glasser, a husband-and-wife team, offer an illuminating biographical portrait of James Baker, one that describes the arc of his career and, along the way, tells readers something about how executive power is wielded in the US capital.

“This is a biography any would-be power broker must own: The story of legendary White House chief of staff and secretary of state James A. Baker III, the man who ran Washington when Washington ran the world,” said a review in goodreads.com. 

Samatha Power, former US ambassador to the UN, said in a review for The New York Times: “Given Baker’s legendary reserve, one of the most touching parts of the book is its examination of the deep, humorous and also rivalrous friendship he maintained with former US President George H. W. Bush. The relationship, which began on the Houston tennis courts, ended up defining both of their lives.”

Power is the author of The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir.