Breaking Smart, a collection of essays by Doctor Venkatesh Rao, is an insightful and uplifting text that promises a future where anyone and everyone can succeed. From the move away from pastoralist visions like the Jetsons to the shape that corporations across the globe will take, these essays take a deep dive into predictions of the future based on the past.
I don’t think that I could express it better than Dr. Rao himself though:
"Breaking Smart is a site devoted to in-depth explorations of the emerging digital economy, resulting patterns of societal transformation, and technological serendipity. Our goal is to produce a binge-worthy collection of essays on a single big theme, along with workshop material, approximately once a year. Season 1 is based on Marc Andreessen’s observation that “software is eating the world.”’
The name of this site is inspired by the hit American television show Breaking Bad, which follows the life of a chemistry teacher turned drug-kingpin as it winds its way to inevitable doom. Breaking Smart is the opposite of breaking bad: the expanding human exploration of new possibilities, powered by technological serendipity.
— Venkatesh Rao
I fell in love with the essays, and I wanted to make them more accessible to anyone. As has been noted before on this site, I’m a firm believer in audio books eating literature, and that extends to essays and textbooks as well. I decided that, if this nearly prophetic set of essays was going to grow larger, I wanted to help it do so. Below I’ve linked to the first episode of a playlist containing all 21 of the essays, as well as a link to the acknowledgements page. I chose not to read those aloud due to the risk of completely butchering the names of the great people Dr. Rao worked with, but I think that their contribution is important to promote.