So… You want to know what to read to become a better designer, urban planner, architect and social activist, who puts inclusion at the forefront of their work? Here are a few recommendations from our Designing Cities For All (DCFA) team, and we will add new recommendations periodically. For all you city designers that want to empower yourself (and others), let these reads guide your practice of transforming cities for the better. And guess what? You can order these books with a pretty neat discount* via our local bookstore Athenaeum!

The following books were chosen by the 6th DCFA fellows: futurists de Chrononauten. These books relate to the work of de Chrononauten and the overall theme of their fellowship which explored how we can build a new architecture of trust in the digital age. Check out more about de Chrononauten’s fellowship here!


In Internet for the People, tech writer Ben Tarnoff asserts that privatisation has broken our Internet. Owned by private firms and run for profit, the Internet of today is not what it used to be. The internet wasn’t always like this—it had to be remade for the purposes of profit maximisation, through a years-long process of privatisation that turned a small research network into a powerhouse of global capitalism. Tarnoff tells the story of the privatisation that made the modern internet, and which set in motion the crises that consume it today.

P.S. Internet for the People was de Chrononauten’s selection for our DCFA Book Club. They reviewed the book and its ideas with Ben Tarnoff himself! Watch the programme here.

As we enjoy the internet’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply? Nicholas Carr explores this question in his book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. What are some of the cognitive and behavioural effects of smartphones and social media? Originally published in 2011, this newer version of the book maintains the integrity of Carr’s ideas with an added afterword that brings them up to date.

In Reclaiming Conversation, renowned media scholar Sherry Turkle investigates how a flight from conversation undermines our relationships, creativity, and productivity-and why reclaiming face-to-face conversation can help us regain lost ground. We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection. Long an enthusiast for its possibilities, here she investigates a troubling consequence: at work, at home, in politics, and in love, we find ways around conversation, tempted by the possibilities of a text or an email in which we don’t have to look, listen, or reveal ourselves. We develop a taste for what mere connection offers. Based on five years of research and interviews in homes, schools, and the workplace, Turkle argues that we have come to a better understanding of where our technology can and cannot take us and that the time is right to reclaim conversation.

Not so long ago, the great battles of democracy were fought for the right to vote. Now, in Against Elections, Van Reybrouck writes, “it’s all about the right to speak, but in essence it’s the same battle, the battle for political emancipation and for democratic participation. We must decolonize democracy. We must democratize democracy.” A timely book to remind us that our system of government is a flexible instrument. This book offers a new diagnosis – and an ancient remedy. It shows that the original purpose of elections was to exclude the people from power by appointing an elite to govern over them. Based on studies and trials from around the globe, it presents the practical case for a true democracy – one that actually works.

Drawing on sources ranging from ancient philosophy to the latest technology, Who Owns the Future? proposes a radical system that truly rewards endeavour – whether it’s in the media or manufacturing – and ultimately preserves human dignity. In critiquing digital networks, Lanier posits that in order to fix our economy, we need to fix our information economy. As dubbed by Lanier, ‘Siren Servers’ exploit big data, mishandle personal data, contribute to economic recessions, etc. All of these networks that play such a significant role in our lives could come to destroy it. This is Lanier uses this book to map out a future in which that does not happen. Instead, we can work with these networks and be rewarded for how we use them.


*Excluding ‘The Shallows,’ the books in this list can be ordered at Athenaeum Bookstore by emailing [email protected] . With code DCFA2122 you get a 10% discount on non-Dutch publications. Please mention the code when ordering your books.