Just finished reading a couple of books which are a good, if little depressing, read.
First is the very funny and satirical book Churnmore by Richard Murray of the design agency Williams Murray Hamm (thanks to Russell and Ben for the recommendation). A story about a sadly rather typical few months of the life of a brand, made very funny because we have all been at these meetings where the brand vegetable is discussed for a few days and the brief for revolution becomes one of incrementalism. There's a lot of good lessons to remember under the painful humor.
Second is the new book by Kalle Lasn of Adbusters called Design Anarchy. It's a reminder of the tremendous power that marketing has, and how often it abuses this. The book is a collection of graphics and thinkpieces that form a call to arms to change the world of design for good (in both senses of the world). And I guess that's the optimistic take on the book - as people who work in marketing and communications we have tremendous power to shape the world. The choice we have to make is whether this will manifest itself in a selfish, self-serving way or a more progressive, helpful way that can enhance society for the better of all. Which I guess is quite a sobering thought.
And on that note Adam Crowe has developed a greasemonkey script for the Firefox browser that will automatically replace the horrible 'c word' we use too often with the far more respectful p words - person and people. Let's stop believing that all we are good for is consuming.