Another year, a further 445 posts and an additional 17,790 spam comments have passed (and 453 legitimate comments, for which I am eternally grateful–thanks!) and Lone Gunman is now two years old.
Somewhat delayed since I’ve recently moved to the Netherlands, here are the best things I’ve read on the Internet and posted here over the past twelve months… it’s Year Two in Review.
Items definitely not to miss are highlighted (probably not through an RSS feed reader). [LG] denotes my original post.
First, the most popular posts of the past year: The Seven Psychological Principles Con Artists Exploit, A History of the 160 Character Text Message and The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity.
Business and Entrepreneurship
- Before you do anything, you may need a business plan. Inspired by the simplicity and success of the Creative Commons licensing icons, here’s a novel, icon-based business plan kit [LG].
- Thinking about what to sell? Here’s what people are willing to pay for [LG] (scarcity, esteem and belonging, among others).
- Worried about your chances of success? Keep this in mind:
- That university prestige was not correlated to entrepreneurial success [LG] (and that the time entrepreneurs wait to start their ventures is likely longer than you imagine).
- That a study of entrepreneurial success and failure rates shows that entrepreneurs don’t learn from their mistakes and past success was the only indicator of future success [LG].
- Need a company name? Check out the founder of Kodak’s three rules for an effective company name [LG].
- Creating a community? Richard Millington’s best 100 posts [LG] will be worth perusing.
- But don’t forget what Gel conference host Mark Hurst calls the experience response [LG].
Persuasion (In Business and Life)
- If you’re selling premium products, listen to a ‘luxury sales consultant’ explaining how to sell luxury goods [LG] (sell a story and do not discount are just two tips).
- Why no discounts? In a review of ‘sales psychology’ [LG] we hear that the placebo effect is at work with goods just as much as with medicine.
- Other psychological tricks to get people buying [LG] include the 99-pence/cent effect, ownership imagery and romantic priming.
- In a comprehensive review of Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin’s book Yes! we are treated to fifty scientifically proven ways to be persuasive [LG].
- I then summarised two articles that use Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational to describe how to manipulate or avoid manipulation using his findings.
- These eleven ways to persuade people online [LG] may be helpful, too.
- If all else fails, pretend to share their name or birthday: we are more likely to comply with requests from strangers if we believe we share seemingly uncommon, incidental characteristics [LG].
- And finally: Urgency, Certainty and Targeted Information… three of the five elements of effective and persuasive messages.
Health, Food and Exercise
- While we’re discussing the topic, how to persuade people to eat healthier:
- Posting calorie counts doesn’t help [LG], and the provision of a salad option in a restaurant actually increases the chances of unhealthy purchases [LG] (because we considered the healthy option, we ‘reward’ ourselves with the unhealthy choice.
- Taxes? Subsidies? Subsiding health foods worsens food choices, taxing unhealthy food improves them [LG].
- To succeed, utilise some of the aesthetic and language tricks that entice diners to buy (‘menu psychology’) [LG].
- Positioning choices is also important: I summarise two studies showing how making healthy food easier to choose increases the consumption of healthy food.
- But what is healthier food? Maybe not organic produce, as the UK FSA’s Chief Scientist says that there is little to no nutritional benefits to eating organic over conventionally produced food [LG].
- Once again, I look at the psychology of wine.
- Jamie Oliver inadvertently shows the cognitive and educational advantages of a healthy diet [LG].
- And Dr Shock discusses the neuroscience of exercise and summarises some of the vast cognitive benefits thereof [LG].
Metacognition (Creativity, Learning and Thinking)
- The most important thing to do: sleep, as it can take over a week to recover cognitively from just a few days of poor sleep [LG] (and you’ll get sick).
- Want to improve creativity?
- Be aware of ‘cognitive complexity’ (how ‘easy’ something is to understand):
Typography and Design
- Some theory in the form of the ten design commandments of Dieter Rams [LG] and a five-part type terminology primer [LG].
- Some resources in the form of a ‘periodic table’ of typefaces [LG] and a summary of Edward Tufte’s design principles [LG].
- And the application: a few simple rules for good typography [LG] and a summary of the findings from a number of comprehensive web design studies (typography usage and general web design decisions).
Relationships and Marriage
- Like last year, one of the most interesting things I read on this topic was on diamonds: this time, a 1982 article detailing how De Beers ‘created’ the diamond market as we know it [LG].
- Thinking of marriage? Read these two complementary pieces: Dr Rob Dobrenski on the reasons marriages fail [LG] and The Last Psychiatrist on how to destroy a marriage [LG] (the former on why they fail from the outset (misaligned goals, etc.) and the latter on more ‘organic’, after-the-fact reasons).
- After that, it’s parenthood. Men: have them sooner rather than later. Advanced paternal age negatively impacts a child’s neurocoginitive development [LG] (the opposite was found for advanced maternal age).
- Once they’ve arrived, remember that exposure to dirt helps create a healthier immune system [LG] and that “Don’t talk to strangers” isn’t strictly the best advice [LG].
- Simple inspiration from The Cult of Done’s manifesto [LG], and Jonathan Harris on being known for doing what we do and the longevity of our work [LG].
- A more scientific approach comes in the form of the four principles to creating luck [LG], discovering that it takes around 66 days to form a habit [LG] and how setting goals could be detrimental to achieving our targets (and how to prevent that from happening) [LG].
- How to be interesting [LG] explains fairly succinctly why I write here (be interested and be good at sharing).
- After grokking the painfully accurate conversational mannerisms of geeks [LG] I sought improvement. That came in the form of a list of the twelve core human skills [LG] (most are things I’m interested in and write about here: my way of learning).
- Thirty Days to a Better
ManPerson [LG] offered advice on health, careers and general well-being and I summarised a series of posts offering advice (and elicit more in the comments… nudge).
- One of my favourite articles was on the quarterlife crisis [LG]: that time of existential angst we go through in our mid twenties worrying about acceptance and the abundance of choice. At that same age, this post detailing some etiquette for those aged 25+ [LG] was handy.
- A couple of quick ones worth revisiting: twelve easy tips for avoiding an early death [LG], as written by an emergency physician, and a short tutorial on how to disagree more efficiently [LG].
- Bud Caddell’s simple and effective How To Be Happy in Business Venn diagram [LG] reminded me of another favourite from last year: personal love–growth–cash triangles.
- If you seek happiness, a commute might be a bad idea: the unpredictable nature of traffic leads us to despise it, vastly decreasing happiness [LG] (enough to negate the benefits of living in the suburbs–you’ll need to earn 40% more to compensate).
- Money might help, but make sure you’re clever about it: buy memories, not objects [LG]. In fact, just read this list on what you can buy that will and won’t increase happiness [LG] (in short: meals, books, music, pets, bicycles and foreign travel all contribute to an increased sense of happiness).
- The two most comprehensive and compelling popular science articles I read all year came from Wired:
- In macroeconomics I learnt:
- That the oft-quoted poverty threshold of $1.25 is relative and adjusted.
- That many prominent economists are calling for an end to foreign aid to Africa as it is linked as a direct cause of increasing poverty rates [LG] (“when emotion overrules evidence”).
- On the micro scale, I was fascinated by a roundup of surprising findings in the field of ‘finance psychology’.
- On the other side, this article on consumer profiling by credit card companies [LG] is worth a read.
- While looking at why open source software often fails, the reason we love-to-hate those self-service supermarket checkouts is explained [LG] and then we’re told that at the supermarket checkout, we should prefer 17 extra items over an extra person to maximise efficiency [LG] (due to the additional’tender time’).
- After reading Dan Gardner’s excellent Risk, I list and describe the eighteen factors of risk perception (including familiarity, catastrophic potential, victim identity and media attention).
- For those who write (or want to), Benjamin Kunkel lists five truths about blogging [LG], while Hugo-award winner John Scalzi offers ten writing tips for non-writers [LG].