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An interesting new study has been published that adds to what Malcolm Gladwell discusses in his wonderful book, Blink. When you have a tough decision to make, stop thinking about it for awhile. “In a series of studies with shoppers and students, researchers found that people who face a decision with many considerations, such as…

Go With Your Gut

An interesting new study has been published that adds to what Malcolm Gladwell discusses in his wonderful book, Blink. When you have a tough decision to make, stop thinking about it for awhile.

“In a series of studies with shoppers and students, researchers found that people who face a decision with many considerations, such as what house to buy, often do not choose wisely if they spend a lot of time consciously weighing the pros and cons,” writes Gareth Cook reporting in the Boston Globe. “Instead, the scientists conclude, the best strategy is to gather all of the relevant information—such as the price, the number of bathrooms, the age of the roof—and then put the decision out of mind for a while.”

The study was conducted by psychology researchers at the University of Amsterdam. The study of rational decision making clearly has implications for the business world, as marketers really come to understand how purchasing decisions are made.

Posted by Joel on February 25 2006 • Current Affairs

Blog Hangover?

Are blogs’ 15 minutes finally coming to an end? London’s Financial Times features a story looking at the rise (and possible fall?) of bloging’s popularity. “At the close of 2002, there were some 15,000 blogs,” writes the Times’ Trevor Butterworth. “By 2005, 56 new blogs were starting every minute. As I type this sentence, there are, according to technorati.com, 27.2 million blogs. By the time you read this sentence, there surely will be many more.

“Still, blogging would have been little more than a recipe for even more internet tedium if it had not been seized upon in the US as a direct threat to the mainstream media and the conventions by which they control news.” Do you believe it? Has opinion become “the new pornography of the Internet”? The article takes a look at the issue from many sides; that’s why I’d recommend it. It’s more a story about our entire media environment here in the United States. For a writer to complete any work of lasting significance, writes Butterworth, they need time to do their work reporting and writing. Butterworth calls blogging “instant obsolescence; the future will never bring an anthology filled with yellowed pages of blog entries from the early 21st century. “The point is, any writer of talent needs the time and peace to produce work that has a chance of enduring. Connolly provided that to Orwell with the influential literary magazine he co-edited, Horizon, a publication that gave Orwell the chance to write some of his most memorable essays.” As a magazine editor, I must agree.

“The present round of chiselling may feel exciting and radically new - but blogging in the US is not reflective of the kind of deep social and political change that lay behind the alternative press in the 1960s,” says the Times. “Instead, its dependency on old media for its material brings to mind Swift’s fleas sucking upon other fleas “ad infinitum”: somewhere there has to be a host for feeding to begin. That blogs will one day rule the media world is a triumph of optimism over parasitism.” I am the first to admit this phenomenon. I primarily use my own blog to point to interresting articles or books, unlike many others that simply uuse them as online diaries. Is that the real spirit of blogging? I don’t know, but it sounds as if I’m not the only one asking the question.

I just came across this passage from a book that I’ve been reading. It relates to my post from earlier this morning. Novelist Milan Kundera dubbed a term the term graphomania to mean the desire to be published, and insisted that it arises from emotional isolation. He writes that it “takes on the proportions of mass epidemic whenever a society develops to a point where it can provide three basice conditions
1. A high enough degree of general well-being to enable people to devote their energies to useless activities;
2. An advanced state of social atomization and the resultant general feeling of isolation of the individual;
3. A radiac absence of significant social change in the internal development of the nation. (In this connection I find it symptomatic that in France, a country where nothing really happens, the percentage of writers is twenty-one times higher than in Israel.)”
Kundera wrote those words in 1980, obviously before there was an Internet. It’s odd some days when you read about one topic, and words from a much different book or article leap off the page at you.

Posted by Joel on February 20 2006 • Blogging

Outsourcing Research

I read today that more companies are beginning to add research and development activity in their outsourcing strategies. According to an article in the New York Times, “The first jobs to be moved abroad are typically simple assembly tasks, followed by manufacturing, and later, skilled work like computer programming. At the end of this progression is the work done by scientists and engineers in research and development laboratories,” writes Times reporter Steve Lohr.

“A new study that will be presented today to the National Academies, the nation’s leading advisory groups on science and technology, suggests that more and more research work at corporations will be sent to fast-growing economies with strong education systems, like China and India.”

According to the study, it’s not low wages, or tax policy that is driving this crucial economic activity to other parts of the globe. Instead, “multinational corporations are global shoppers of talent.” If ever there was a call for national education investment, this would be it. Alarming.

Posted by Joel on February 16 2006 • Current Affairs

The Ten Faces of Innovation

I just finished a wonderful book, The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley, and the following quote stands out. I think it’s good advice.

“Don’t wait at the starting line to figure out the whole race. Just get moving and start trying things out. Along the way, you might discover a new way to win.”

Posted by Joel on February 09 2006 • Books

More Online, Fewer Books

This is an interesting piece of information. It seems a new study has shown that the extra time people spend reading online cuts deeper into time devoted to reading books than it does periodicals. This runs counter to conventional wisdom. Working in magazines, I see that as a good sign, I suppose. According to Jupiter Research, 31 percent of adult Web readers read magazines less frequently, while 37 percent of respondents reported reading books less frequently. The best news for magazine editors from this New York Times report is this: “Internet users may read magazine content online, but were less likely to give up buying hard copies entirely.”

Posted by Joel on February 09 2006 • Multimedia

iTunes U

This is hardly surprising news. Apple is extending it’s popular iPod brand into the college classroom. According to May Wong, AP technology writer. Apple has been working with six pilot schools for more than a year to help them establish systems whereby students can dowload lectures and other classroom materials directly to their iPods.

“The University of Missouri offered podcasts of lectures through its school network before it signed up with Apple last summer as a pilot school,” writes Wong, “But “iTunes U” offered a software and service package for free, said Keith Politte, the development officer at the university’s School of Journalism.” Stanford University not only offers its students course lectures through its iTunes affiliated site, the school also allows students to download audio broadcasts of its sporting events, writes Wong. Very cool.

Posted by Joel on February 01 2006 • Multimedia