Archive for the 'reading' Category
The University Channel website is a collaborative project between several universities to catalog and link to a variety of audio and video guest lectures. It’s a great place to get exposed to interesting research and thinking.
One of the lectures I listened to recently was a talk given by Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, on the Secret Impact of Social Norms. The lecture is especially interesting because it is focused on influencing people toward positive and sustainable changes.
Professor Robert Cialdini is the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, a book which has established itself as one of the most important publications on the subject of the psychology of persuasion. The book was the result of a three – year programme of study into the reasons that people comply with requests in everyday settings. Yet it also provides a highly accessible guide to the subtle influences that drive behaviours and decisions in everyday life, from the size of a tip left in a restaurant to life and death decisions. Professor Cialdini is now turning his attention to the subject of sustainability. How can cutting edge persuasion techniques be used to encourage environmental responsibility?
In this RSA lecture, Professor Cialdini delivers a presentation on his recent research into the successful use of social norms to promote pro-environmental action.
Even if you’re not interested in influencing others, Cialdini’s research and writing is fascinating because it can help you to see and understand how others try to influence you.
I spent some time tonight tracking down notes from some of the SXSW Interactive panels. There are some panels I couldn’t attend because they overlapped with others and some I attended but wasn’t satisfied with my own notes. I’ve compiled a list below of six blogs that I found to have great notes.
- Throwspace’s SXSW Interactive 2007
- Hellonline (Eran’s blog)
In addition, the official SXSW Podcasts are already being posted. Unfortunately, the official podcasts get posted over weeks and months, so if you’re looking for specific panels it may be a while before they make it onto the site. The podcasts from SXSW Interactive 2006 are all online though and there are some definite gems in the bunch.
Unfortunately, the SXSW Baby Notes Exchange Wiki has seen almost no updates during the festival. The the wiki was a great idea, requiring a login goes against the nature of wikis and was apparently enough to keep anyone from creating or adding content.
I just ran across the WikiSummaries site which is off to a great start at becoming a resource for high quality free book summaries. My own book notes tend to be outlines that are more ideal for reviewing material I’ve already read in depth. In contrast, WikiSummaries take a more narrative form, similar to CliffsNotes or Barron’s Book Notes and make for easier reading.
Both fiction and non-fiction titles are included. WikiSummaries can help you decide whether or not to read Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope or help you review the plot of a previous Harry Potter book before starting the next one. And since anyone can edit the wiki, it’s easy to contribute your own summaries or help to improve the existing ones.
I ran across a sad, yet fascinating article about 8 lottery winners who lost their millions via the I Will Teach You to Be Rich blog. I’m sure there are other profiles of lottery winners out there and I bet they’d make for a fascinating book. There are a variety of reasons I don’t play the lottery, but the article left me with even more reasons not to.
William “Bud” Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but now lives on his Social Security.
“I wish it never happened. It was totally a nightmare,” says Post.
A former girlfriend successfully sued him for a share of his winnings. It wasn’t his only lawsuit. A brother was arrested for hiring a hit man to kill him, hoping to inherit a share of the winnings. Other siblings pestered him until he agreed to invest in a car business and a restaurant in Sarasota, Fla., — two ventures that brought no money back and further strained his relationship with his siblings.
Post even spent time in jail for firing a gun over the head of a bill collector. Within a year, he was $1 million in debt.
Post admitted he was both careless and foolish, trying to please his family. He eventually declared bankruptcy.
Now he lives quietly on $450 a month and food stamps.
I ran across the Japan SAQ (Seldom Asked Questions) via populicio.us. The page collects a wide variety of questions and answers about various aspects of Japanese culture. One of the questions gives some detail about the origin of big Anime eyes.
Q. Why do anime characters have such big eyes?
A. The practice of drawing anime characters with unusually large eyes dates back to the art form’s founder, Osamu Tezuka. When he started drawing his most famous creation, Astroboy, he was inspired by the famous cartoon character Betty Boop and her enormous eyes. After the success of Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy), other manga and anime artists began to copy Tezuka, and a trend was born.
The list is pretty fascinating reading. I wish there were similar SAQs to cover the obscure aspects of all cultures around the world. The closest I’ve seen are the The Xenophobe’s Guide book series.
I ran across a new online comic recently on populicio.us called “Married To The Sea.” It uses old illustrations, but with anachronistic captions. It hasn’t been around long, but so far it’s cracking me up.
Tonight I stumbled across Malcolm Gladwell’s new blog:
In the past year I have often been asked why I don’t have a blog. My answer was always that I write so much, already, that I don’t have time to write anything else. But, as should be obvious, I’ve now changed my mind. I have come (belatedly) to the conclusion that a blog can be a very valuable supplement to my books and the writing I do for the New Yorker. What I think I’d like to do is to use this forum to elaborate and comment on and correct and amend things that I have already written. If you look on my website, on the “Blink” page, you’ll see an expanded notes and bibliography, which mostly consists of copies of emails sent to me by readers. Well, I think I’d like to start posting reader comments for everything I write, and this is a perfect place for that.
There are also times when I think I’ve made mistakes, or oversights, and I’d like to use this space to explain myself and set things right.
Gladwell is an author and regular writer for the New Yorker magazine. He’s one of my favorite non-fiction writers, as he has a knack for explaining things about the world in ways I hadn’t previsously considered. I’m interested to see what makes it onto his blog. Check out Gladwell’s main site to sample even more of his writing.
I’ve been pretty busy lately and haven’t been keeping up with news much. My weekly dose of news often comes from the Week in Review.
Each week, a group gathers in a bar in L.A. to draw a visual representation of the week’s news. It’s a fun way to get a quick glimpse of what has been happening in the world.
In addition to books, many libraries loan movies, music, audio books and more. Though they may not have the latest BillBoard Top 40 or box office blockbusters, you will likely find many of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time or IMDb’s Top 250 movies. If you’re lucky, your library might even loan audio books on iPods.
Many libraries also provide access to reference databases and other resources online. With just your card number and a password, you may be able to access databases like Academic Search Premier or Student Resource Center Gold Edition. Don’t be fooled by the names; these databases aren’t limited to dry academic journals. You’re likely to have access to archived articles from newspapers and magazines like The New York Times, National Geographic, and Sports Illustrated.
There’s a funny article on OpinionJournal about Cookie Monster singing.
Death-metal vocalizing is also known as Cookie Monster singing, if not in tribute to, at least in acknowledgment of, the “Sesame Street” puppet that blurts in a guttural growl, his words discharged so rapidly that they tend to collide with each other.
I’m not a fan of death metal, but the detailed examination of screaming is oddly interesting to me.
I recently finished reading The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing and I just posted my notes to my wiki page of book notes. Some of the examples in the book are a bit dated, but the information is still relevent. If nothing else, I think I’ll have a different perspective on marketing going forward.
If you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the market leader.
“You must discover the essence of the leader and then present the prospect with the opposite. (In other words, don’t try to be better, try to be different.”
In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results.
“Most often there is only one place where a competitor is vulnerable. And that place should be the focus of the entire invading force.”
I first read about check washing in Frank W. Abagnale’s book The Art of the Steal. Thieves use solvents to remove the ink from checks. They cover the signature with tape to preseve it and can then rewrite the payee and amounts. I just found a web page demonstrating check washing techniques. The article concludes with mostly obvious precautions of not leaving checks in your mailbox, shreding old checks, and checking statements. Less obviously, it also recommends using gel-based pens because their ink is the hardest to remove.
The QWERTY keyboard cannot be said to constitute evidence of any systematic tendency for markets to err. Very simply, no competing keyboard has offered enough advantage to warrant a change. The story of Dvorak’s superiority is a myth or, perhaps more properly, a hoax.
What made the article interesting to me is how much related information it ties in—science, economics, academics, and more.
While on the subject of articles I enjoyed reading, the Freakonomics website has a copy of the “What the Bagel Man Saw” article, which is also included as part of the book. If you haven’t already read the book, the article will give you a taste of its thought provoking writing.
Are your written messages easy to read and understand? One way to know is to look at how often people respond positively to your requests; or whether they respond at all.
From there, I found links to a couple of web forms that analyze text for readability:
I’ve been wanting to subscribe to several magazines that I’m interested in writing for, but I was waiting until I could find the best deal possible. In scouring the FatWallet forums, I ran across two great resources. The first is a price search site for magazine subscriptions, called MagazinePriceSearch.com
MagazinePriceSearch.com saves you time and money by continually monitoring subscription prices for 2552 magazines from 24 online magazine merchants, plus 63 coupons, and compiling everything into one easy to use site!
Surprisingly, the other source of inexpensive subscriptions I found was eBay. In the end, for each of the three magazines I ordered this week, I found the best prices on eBay. I made sure to check seller ratings and that none of the sellers auto-renew the subscriptions, so it actually felt safer than ordering the same magazine from one of the dozens of discount subscription websites.
I just finished reading a book on project management called Making it Happen. It’s written as a novel that details the story of a project management novice who is suddenly asked to manage the rollout of a new boat design. Though the story wouldn’t keep my interest on its own, it made learning the basics of project management more engaging. I’ve added my notes on the book to my wiki page of book notes.
Structure of an Assignment
- DESIGN (describes the final product in enough detail so that you could produce it)
- EXECUTION PLAN (Project)
- (Review of Design)
- (Review of Execution Plan and Execution)
- (Review of Genesis)
I just read a Boing Boing post about a new RSVP reader application for cell phones called Monket. A similar application for Smartphones has been around for a while, but Monket has the added advantage of being open source.
It’s nice to see the new developments in RSVP readers; however, my fascination with RSVP has waned a bit lately. Instead, I’ve been using text-to-speech software to mainline information. I use the freeware version of ReadPlease 2003, piped through a single earbud to listen to long text documents. It’s also quite handy for proofreading my own writing. The advantage of text-to-speech over RSVP is that your eyes are freed up to do other things.
While out of town recently, I received an automated email message from my wiki notifying me that someone had edited my page comparing RSVP programs. The wiki has been getting hammered by spammers lately, so I was very pleasantly surprised that a legit new program called dictator had been added. On first glance, it appears to have the best mix of features of any of the freeware or open source RSVP readers I’ve checked out.
For the curious, RSVP in this case stands for Rapid Serial Visual Presentation, which is a method of presenting text in which words are flashed on a screen in rapid succession in order to boost reading speeds while allowing the eyes to relax.
I can’t remember now where I ran across the online comic Questionable Content, but I’ve been enjoying it recently and have added it to my list of comics that I read regularly. I’m still having a hard time telling some of the characters apart, but I like the sense of humor.
If only Cryptozoa were regularly updated online. Then again, maybe Cryptozoa is more of a one-panel illustrated ultra-short-story, rather than a comic.