Must Reads Before 4Front’s 2020 Conference

4Front Event
7 min readFeb 27, 2020

Bookworm alert! Many talented speakers and podcast presenters are coming to 4Front in June, and several have written powerful, thought-provoking books that you’ll definitely want to put on your reading list before the event. Here’s a list of the authors and their books, which are waiting for you to pick up and read:

Shoshana Zuboff is the author of three books, each of which has signaled the start of a new epoch in technology. Her latest masterwork, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, synthesizes years of research and thinking to reveal a world in which technology users are neither customers, employees, nor products. Rather, they’re the raw material for new manufacturing and sales procedures that define an entirely new economic order: a surveillance economy. She also wrote the decade-in-the-making In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power, which became an instant classic that foresaw how computers would revolutionize the modern workplace. Check out Zuboff’s website and see her talk at 4Front about unveiling the fact that technology users are “no longer customers but the raw material for an entirely new economic order.”

Jean Twenge is a professor and an author of more than 140 scientific publications and three books. Her book Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — and More Miserable Than Ever Before uses findings from the largest intergenerational research study ever conducted “with data from 1.3 million respondents spanning six decades” to reveal how different today’s young adults are from previous generations. She reveals controversial predictions about what the future holds for the current generation and society as a whole. Twenge’s light-hearted, eyebrow-raising stories about real people “vividly bring to life the hopes and dreams, disappointments, and challenges of Generation Me.

Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical gerontologist and VP of New Technology Discovery at AgeX Therapeutics, has cowritten a book called Advancing Conversations: Aubrey de Grey — Advocate for an Indefinite Human Lifespan. Advancing Conversations documents conversations with artists, authors, philosophers, economists, scientists and activists whose works are about the future and progress. Aubrey de Grey is involved in a biomedical research charity that performs and funds laboratory research dedicated to combating the aging process. Specifically, he’s interested in the self-inflicted cellular and molecular damage that constitute mammalian aging and seeks to intervene to repair that damage.

Veronica Belmont, yet another talented academic, cohosts a podcast called Sword & Laser. This podcast covers the latest news in science fiction and fantasy, features author interviews and showcases monthly book picks. As a podcaster, Belmont also previously hosted Mozilla’s IRL: Online Life Is Real Life, in which she spoke to people around the world about how technology and the Internet are shaping their existence — from the relationships they embark upon to the policies that are changing the ways they access the web. She is also a product manager at Adobe and evangelist on the Adobe Spark team, where she works to help social media creators, marketers and influencers bring their brands and creative ideas to the masses.

Nathan D. Lang, Chief Education Officer at WeVideo, is the author of Everyday Instructional Coaching: Seven Daily Drivers to Support Teacher Effectiveness, about “instructional coaches who play a crucial role in helping educators meet the ever-changing demands of effective teaching and learning.” This practical guide shares seven drivers that coaches can use to support teachers in their daily work: collaboration, transparency, inquiry, discourse, reverberation, sincerity, and influence. Each chapter offers instructional coaching strategies, daily practices, research, and examples to help readers evaluate, refine, and implement these drivers. Lang is also coauthor of The New Art and Science of Teaching Mathematics.

Maxwell Luthy is Director of Trends and Insights at TrendWatching and head of its North America office. He is the author of Trend-Driven Innovation, in which the TrendWatching team shares a powerful, counterintuitive truth: To discover what people want next, we need to stop looking at customers and start looking at businesses. That means learning how to draw powerful insights from the way leading brands and disruptive startups — from Apple to Uber, Chipotle to Patagonia — redefine customer expectations. Sharing the secrets that have led thousands of the world’s most successful brands and agencies to rely on TrendWatching for over a decade, Trend-Driven Innovation is the book that will reconfigure your view of the business world forever.

Larry Magid, EdD, is a technology journalist and an Internet safety advocate. He has written several books, including the best-selling The Little PC Book and Cruising Online: Larry Magid’s Guide to the New Digital Highways. Entering the realm of PCs can be quite intimidating for the newcomer! The Little PC Book is the friend that every beginning PC user needs, considering that new hardware, software, programs and operating systems are appearing on the market almost weekly. Magid’s second book, Cruising Online, describes the three major commercial online services and discusses email, bulletin boards, games, information sources and the Internet. These books are perfect for new PC users and those who want to learn more about the Internet on a basic level.

CableLabs’ very own CEO, Phil McKinney, shares his rule-breaking approach to innovation and creativity in his book Beyond the Obvious. McKinney helps the reader dig deeper and begin asking the right questions — the ones that all organizations must ask to survive. Full of real-world examples, this book will change the way you operate, innovate and create, and it all begins with battle-tested questions that Phil has gathered on notecards throughout his career and shares in the book for the first time. Phil also heads up Killer Innovations, an award-winning podcast and nationally syndicated talk radio show that looks at the innovations that are changing our lives and how their innovators used creativity and design to turn a raw idea into a game-changing product or service.

Amy Webb is a quantitative futurist and the author of three award-winning books, each of which has been translated into 19 languages. First up is the recent The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity, which is a call-to-arms about the broken nature of artificial intelligence, and the powerful corporations that are turning the human-machine relationship on its head. Her previous book, The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream, explains Webb’s forecasting methodology and how any organization can identify risk and opportunity before disruption hits. Finally, her bestselling memoir Data, A Love Story is about finding love via algorithms. Webb presented a TED talk about this book that has been viewed more than 7 million times and has already been translated into 32 different languages. Data, A Love Story is currently being adapted into a feature film.

Although we may have just extended your book-reading (and podcast-listening) list by a few pages, you will be able to meet all these brilliant authors and speakers at 4Front. As a special opportunity, some of our speakers will be participating and facilitating our workshops, where you can work side by side, not just audience to speaker. You can add these highly interactive sessions to your agenda after registering for the 4Front conference at no additional cost, but be sure to apply now! Seats are limited!