It’s been a quiet year on Lone Gunman with only 76 posts published over the last 366 days: but the response has been as great as ever.
This year is a special one for Lone Gunman as it was four years ago today–during the last leap day–that the first post was published. It’s been a great experience and the site has evolved a lot, as you can see if you take a look through my previous ‘in review’ posts (Year One, Year Two, Year Three).
And so the passing of another year can mean only one thing… Lone Gunman is four, and this is Year Four in Review; a compilation of the best things I’ve read on the Internet over the last twelve months.
Items definitely not to miss are highlighted (probably not through an RSS feed reader). [LG] denotes my original post.
- A favourite of mine from this past year was when David Hayes (you’ll hear more from him later) shed light on the advantages of Internet-originating relationships and how friendship creation has evolved. [LG]
- It’s no surprise to most of you that I’m an introvert of sorts. This year’s addition to the ‘introversion’ tag is Carl King’s list of myths about introverts. [LG]
- On a larger scale, we delve into the research around Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point theory and discover that ‘six degrees of separation’ is correct, but there is no evidence for super-connected ‘trend gatekeepers’ (such as Gladwell’s ‘Connectors’). [LG]
- From society to the workplace, and I look at the winner of the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize for Management: beating the Peter Principle by promoting at random. [LG]
- Vonnegut describes, like only he can, the narrative arcs in our stories and lives. Derek Sivers goes into more detail, explaining that this is why we create unnecessary and non-existent dramas in our lives. [LG]
- Finally, one that I can’t believe I’ve not posted about before: David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College. [LG]
- A mix between this category and the one above, I was fascinated by the devious secret ways to effectively control trolls and other abusive users on online communities (i.e. the hellban, slowban, and errorban). [LG]
- Motivation, Ability and Trigger are the three elements that are necessary to change a person’s behaviour, according to BJ Fogg’s behaviour grid that explains the fifteen ways that behaviour can be changed. [LG]
- I loved the story behind Sydney Frank’s marketing/branding strategy for Grey Goose vodka. The key? Narrative sells. [LG]
- Negotiating? We already know the optimal starting prices for negotiations and auctions, but this year a researcher from that study goes into detail on negotiation tactics and the reasons why you should make the first offer. [LG]
- Common wisdom would suggest that the more certain a person is on a subject, the more persuasive and credible we perceive them to be. The opposite is sometimes true: for experts, uncertainty has a positive impact on persuasiveness and credibility. [LG]
- Infomercial master Tim Hawthorne, in an interview on Mixergy, let us in on the many infomercial sales techniques that his data show are the most persuasive. [LG]
The Brain, Our Senses
- Let’s start at the beginning with this fascinating evolutionary history of the brain. [LG]
- And now something very modern on the evolutionary scale: the neuroscience perspective on what’s happening when we read. [LG]
- Two photons on the retina? Three molecules up your nose? Almost hearing Brownian motion? It blew my mind when I discovered how sensitive and amazing our senses really are. [LG]
- The brain, our senses, and a bit of psychology are all involved in a short extract from the book Art and the Senses that summarises the various ways that our taste perception can be altered by our other senses. [LG]
- The foods we eat every day has an effect on our brain (of course), and here’s a wonderful article where the author of Your Brain on Food briefly describes how some of the chemicals present in ‘drugs’ such as chocolate, bananas, alcohol and nutmeg affect us (with a bit of space travel included, just for fun). [LG]
- Following on from that last post, one of the most used ‘drugs’ is caffeine. Isn’t it time you learnt the optimal way of consuming caffeine, the world’s most-used stimulant? [LG]
- So we know the varied ways that food can influence our bodies, but here’s a novel approach to a modern problem: recent research suggests that food can help us with avoiding jet lag (thanks to food-based circadian rhythms). [LG]
- This past year saw the end of Mark Bittman’s wonderful NYT food column, The Minimalist. To round-up those thirteen years, here’s a list of Mark Bittman’s favourite twenty-five recipes from his Minimalist years. [LG]
- Another drug, but a bit more dangerous than caffeine, is alcohol, right? Well the jury’s definitely still out and the research is fascinating but contradictory. The latest: abstaining from alcohol appears to increase your risk of dying prematurely. [LG]
- And if you need another reason to get to the bar, it seems that alcohol drinkers earn, on average, 10% more than abstainers (pdf). Drink up! [LG]
- Are the names Monotype Corsiva, Comic Sans Italicized or Haettenschweiler enough to make you run for the hills? Maybe you should give them another chance, as long-term learning and retention improved when classroom material was set in a hard-to-read font. [LG]
- One to be aware of if you find yourself around infants and want to instil a good image: if you’re “unreliable” infants will quickly learn not to learn from you, opting instead for adults that appear confident and knowledgeable. [LG]
- And what about when the children are not around you, but in front of the TV? Go for Sesame Street over Teletubbies: for a child’s cognitive development, the medium (TV/games/books) doesn’t matter but the content is crucial. [LG]
- Something that’s worth remembering and taking the time to consider is the realisation that when we first encounter information we believe it immediately and without thought, only to fully evaluate its truthfulness moments later provided we are not distracted. In other words: engineer a distraction-free environment when doing critical tasks. [LG]
- Think about the meaning behind a lot of the icons you see and use on a daily basis. If they’re well designed, they’ve found what Lukas Mathis, taking his cue from the excellent Understanding Comics, calls the sweet spot between universality and realism that allows for optimum recognition. [LG]
- Negotiation, psychology and programming: three of the five most important non-designer skills that every designer should master. [LG]
- Going for a coastal walk? Think about how you could estimate that distance, because that’s undoubtedly the best analogy for explaining the difficulty in providing estimates for software projects. [LG]
- If you’ve got just one tweet, here’s how to compress and encode the Mona Lisa (and other pieces of art) to fit within a 140 character text limit. [LG]
- So Amazon is destroying local bookstores and this is a Bad Thing, right? Maybe not. There’s an argument that Amazon is actually doing your local community a favour by competing so strongly with local bookstores. [LG]
- If you want to improve your writing, stop reading ‘rules’ and other such bumf. Instead you need ‘tools’, and here’s Roy Peter Clark’s fifty writing tools to improve your writing (Clark is the VP of The Poynter Institute). [LG]
- How did it all begin, how did we get here, and how will it all end? That’s what Ethan Siegel answers in his wonderfully accessible and enlightening complete history of the universe (with pictures!). [LG]
- Curiosity, relinquishment, simplicity, precision and The Void: five of Eliezer Yudkowsky’s twelve virtues of rationality. [LG]
- 1.4 cigarettes, 0.5 litres of wine, 2 days living in New York: these are all equivalent to 1 micromort. ‘Micromort’, you say? Yes: an understandable scale and unit of risk, a micromort is equivalent to a one-in-a-million probability of death. Check out the entire list. [LG]
Finally, this year I’m extremely grateful to two friends for taking over Lone Gunman during a vacation. Their posts were excellent, and I recommend you go back and review them:
- david (b) hayes wrote a wonderful series called How to Internet. Check out David’s series of posts.
- Andrew Smith published three posts on entirely different topics: storytelling, foreclosure and your career. Check out Andrew’s posts, too.