Essinger, James 1957–
Essinger, James 1957–
PERSONAL: Born September 5, 1957, in Leicester, England; son of Theodore Essinger. Education: Attended Lincoln College, Oxford. Hobbies and other interests: Chess.
ADDRESSES: Home—Canterbury, England. Office—Da Vinci Public Relations, 43 Nunnery Fields, Canterbury, Kent CT1 3JT, England.
CAREER: Writer, public-relations consultant, business owner, and educator. Da Vinci Public Relations, founder and owner, 1989–; Michael Joyce Consultants and Aspect Hill Holliday, public relations executive. Teacher of English as a foreign language; educator at an academy in Leicester, England.
MEMBER: Institute of Public Relations.
(With Joseph Rosen) Advanced Computer Applications for Investment Managers, Elsevier Advanced Technology (Oxford, England), 1989.
(With Kenneth Slater and Mark Tantam) Computer Security in Banking: Preventing Computer Fraud, Euromoney Books (London, England), 1990.
Banking Technology as a Competitive Weapon, Financial Times Business Information (London, England), 1991.
Global Custody, Longman (London, England), 1991.
(With Richard Hicks) Making Computers More Human: Designing for Human-Computer Interaction, Elsevier Advanced Technology (Oxford, England), 1991.
Controlling Computer Security: A Guide for Financial Institutions, Financial Times Business Information (London, England), 1992.
Electronic Payment Systems: Winning New Customers, Chapman and Hall (New York, NY), 1992.
The Investment Manager's Handbook, Chapman and Hall (New York, NY), 1993.
Managing Technology in Financial Institutions, Pitman Publishing (London, England), 1993.
Starting a High-Income Consultancy, Pitman Publishing (London, England), 1994.
(With Helen Wylie) The Seven Deadly Skills of Competing, International Thomson Business Press (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Henry Engler) The Future of Banking, Pearson Education (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Charles L. Gay) Inside Outsourcing: The Insider's Guide to Managing Strategic Sourcing, N. Brealey Publishing (Naperville, IL), 2000.
Jacquard's Web: How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals such as Chess and Wall Street Computer Review.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Pirate Queen of Manchester Square, a novel; Spellbound, a nonfiction book on the history of writing and spelling.
SIDELIGHTS: Business writer, public-relations consultant, and business owner James Essinger is the author of numerous books about computer applications in business and finance, technology management, business management, and business history. "For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by ideas that have changed the world in a practical sense," Essinger wrote on his home page. A competition-level chess player, Essinger decided as a teenager to focus instead on his academic work rather than chess as a vocation. "I think chess is great fun—and I still play today for a local chess team—I'm suspicious of it as a full-time activity," he remarked."I think it's insufficiently creative, not productive in any particular sense, and I'm not convinced that the intellectual skill of playing chess is transferable to anything more useful."
Instead, Essinger concentrated on more practical applications of intellectual prowess. He became fluent in Finnish and worked as a teacher of English as a foreign language in Finland. He also entered public relations as a career, starting as a consultant at a small agency in London, progressing through a number of executive positions before becoming the owner of his own agency, Da Vinci Public Relations. In an interview in Cabinet Maker, Essinger describes public relations as "communicating a message to one or more different target audiences a business wishes to influence in a positive way." This may include customers, shareholders, and even government agencies and regulatory bodies. As opposed to advertising, in which a business pays a media outlet to publish and distribute its message, "PR seeks essentially free exposure for a message in the editorial sections of the media," as Essinger explained. Though he found public relations "a fascinating thing to do," he also began to focus on writing books.
Advanced Computer Applications for Investment Managers "provides both an introduction to the basics of investment management as well as an explanation of the roles played by computers and advanced software in structuring and overseeing modern portfolios," noted a reviewer in Futures. Essinger describes how complex data comparison and computation is often beyond the ability of an overworked investment manager, and he shows how computers can provide tools such as real-time quotes, sophisticated data manipulation, and other functions. Computers can also make investment decisions based on intricate calculations and comparisons that humans are not able to make.
In Inside Outsourcing: The Insider's Guide to Managing Strategic Sourcing Essinger and coauthor Charles L. Gay offer expert advice on handling the many complicated issues involved with outsourcing services and activities. There is a fundamental danger to outsourcing, however: "Viewed by many as the cureall to business problems, outsourcing is often mismanaged," observed a reviewer in HR Management. The authors advocate using outsourcing as less a tactical solution to particular business problems and more a strategic tool carefully arranged to improve business performance. The book covers the basics, including detailed descriptions of what outsourcing is, benefits and detriments of outsourcing, market value of outsourcing, and different types of outsourcing. Readers will also find authoritative descriptions of each approach to outsourcing and advice on how to implement a particular style of outsourcing successfully. The stages of outsourcing are also discussed, from initial planning to selecting the service provider to implementing and monitoring outsourced activities.
Jacquard's Web: How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age traces the technological advances in the clothing looms that led to the modern computer. In the early nineteenth century, even the most skilled silk weavers could only produce an inch of patterned cloth per day. In 1804 Joseph-Marie Jacquard devised a hand-loom that allowed silk threads to be woven according to patterns determined by a complex series of 24,000 cards with distinct arrangements of holes punched in them. This technological advance allowed weavers to produce intricately patterned silk at more than twenty-four times the previous rate and with half the manpower—a phenomenal increase in productivity. Honored by Napoleon Bonaparte for his invention, Jacquard became a financial success.
Later inventors who improved and applied Jacquard's ideas and design include some of the most revered names in the history of computing. Charles Babbage envisioned a card-controlled machine, which he called the Difference Engine, that calculated mathematical tables and equations, propelling the advancement of Victorian-era science. Assisted by Ada, Countess Lovelace, he worked on a design but was ultimately frustrated by the lack of precision parts such a sophisticated machine required. In the late 1800s, Herman Hollerith constructed a machine that operated on Jacquard's theory of punched cards was able to tabulate results from the 1890 U.S. census. Hollerith's company and two others merged in 1911 to form what eventually became a giant in the computing industry, International Business Machines (IBM). Early computers such as UNIVAC, ENIAC, and Howard Aiken's Harvard Mark I, used the punch card, which was ubiquitous in computer labs until the 1980s, when electronics had grown sufficiently sophisticated to provide electronic devices and processors that took over the role of the venerable punch card. "Essinger's perceptive commentary makes for interesting reading, and his work is a fluid contribution to the history of the computer," commented Gilbert Taylor in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that "Essinger's sketches of the various inventors and scientists are lively, and he effectively places their contributions in historical context." A contributor to Contemporary Review called Jacquard's Web "a fascinating story," while Wook Kim, an Entertainment Weekly reviewer, remarked that "Essinger has woven a marvelous tapestry" that ties together the unlikely threads of the birth of the information age.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of Jacquard's Web: How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age, p. 371.
Cabinet Maker, August 30, 2002, "Whipping up Good Relations," interview with James Essinger, p. 8.
Contemporary Review, April, 2005, review of Jacquard's Web, p. 255.
Entertainment Weekly, December 3, 2004, Wook Kim, review of Jacquard's Web, p. 94.
Financial Management, January, 2001, J. Paul Hayward, review of The Future of Banking, p. 6.
Futures, May, 1991, review of Advanced Computer Applications for Investment Managers, p. 60.
HR Management, August, 2000, review of Inside Outsourcing: The Insider's Guide to Managing Strategic Sourcing, p. 169.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of Jacquard's Web, p. 847.
James Essinger Home Page, http://www.jamesessinger.com (October 5, 2005).
Popular Science Online, http://www.popularscience.co.uk/ (October 5, 2005), review of Jacquard's Web.