Month: April 2010

  • Abstraction to Increase Effort (and Spending)

    When there is a medium placed between our effort and a desired outcome, we strive to maximise this medium regardless of whether or not it leads optimally to that outcome (think points or virtual currencies as a medium when attempting to obtain goods). That’s my attempt at a concise summary of the findings from a…

  • This American Life on Proposals and Pitches

    As a way to increase the quality of the many submissions they┬áreceive, This American Life staff offer some excellent tips on writing pitches. They go further, presenting four pitches that made it on air, describing why they succeeded: Each of these stories is a story in the most traditional sense: there are characters in some…

  • Defining a Game

    In a talk lambasting what has become the most popular video game in America–Zynga‘s Facebook-based FarmVille*–we are shown how it fails to meet a single one of late sociologist┬áRoger Caillois’ six criteria for defining games (as laid-out in in his 1961 book, Man, Play and Games): Free from obligation, routine and responsibility. Separate from ‘real…

  • Health Effects of Marriage

    There are wide-ranging health benefits to be gained from being happily married, the research suggests, but just how extensive this effect is (and its intricacies) is hugely surprising. In Tara Parker-Pope’s comprehensive look at the physiological effects of marriage, we are told how just by getting couples to discuss a marital disagreement their healing of…

  • Why There’s No Good News

    Discussing briefly a key tenet from his latest book, The Rational Optimist, Matt Ridley looks at how and why pressure groups limit the amount of good news reaching the general public and those in decision-making positions: There are huge vested interests trying to prevent good news reaching the public. That is to say, in the…

  • Bonus Cultures and Ideal Banks, Schools, Hospitals

    In light of the ongoing debate with regards to the financial sector’s so-called ‘bonus culture’, economist John Kay looks briefly at the history of the bonus and why the idea of a ‘bonus culture’ is a “poor joke” (using the example of teacher and doctor bonuses). At one time, the offer and receipt of a…

  • Clarifying Questions Placate Detractors

    Feeling misunderstood and as if we are not being carefully listened to is a reason why conflicts can turn ugly, suggests Psychology Today‘s Professor Todd Kashdan. To prevent ugly, unpleasant arguments (and to resolve uncomfortable negotiations) we should ask simple, clarifying questions: If people show that they are curious and willing to learn more about…

  • MacLeod on Entrepreneurship

    Hugh MacLeod shares a list of random thoughts on being an entrepreneur–a simple list of twenty-six inspirational titbits on business, positioning and success. My favourite five: In a world of over-supply and commodification, you are no longer paid to supply. You’re being paid to deliver something else. What that is exactly, is not always obvious.…

  • The Body Language Resource

    That “gestures come in clusters, like words in a sentence, and that they must be interpreted in the context in which you observe them” is the golden rule of understanding body language, says ‘The Book of Body Language’: a fantastically comprehensive body language resource, hosted by Westside Toastmasters. In the chapter on hand and thumb…

  • Body Language Mimicry and Hypnotism

    Previously I discussed how body language mimicry increases affection by helping the mimicker see the other person as they want to be seen. Over a decade after it was conducted I’ve now read details of “the first┬árigorous┬ástudy looking at body language mimicry” and its effects. Affectionately known as ‘the chameleon effect’, three questions were asked:…