Dan Ott holding a bottle of hot sauce.
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I read Seeing Like a State by James C. Scott around

Review: ★★★★★

This book was recommended by the majority of speakers at a software development conference I attended in 2017. I stumbled across my old notes, and decided to pick it up. It’s a great collection of stories about how the “philosopher kings” with their grand schemes often fail. The order of things is unified for the purposes of legibility. And the common wisdom of “what gets measured gets improved” holds true. But there’s usually a host of other things that aren’t getting measured, which suffer. It turns out abstractions aren’t free after all!


Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed
James C. Scott
9780300078152 (find it on Bookshop, IndieBound, WorldCat, or Open Library)