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new book – ‘Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies’ by Cesar Hidalgo

June 4, 2015

Why Information Grows

Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies by Cesar Hidalgo (Basic Books, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

What is economic growth? And why, historically, has it occurred in only a few places? Previous efforts to answer these questions have focused on institutions, geography, finances, and psychology. But according to MIT’s antidisciplinarian César Hidalgo, understanding the nature of economic growth demands transcending the social sciences and including the natural sciences of information, networks, and complexity. To understand the growth of economies, Hidalgo argues, we first need to understand the growth of order.

At first glance, the universe seems hostile to order. Thermodynamics dictates that over time, order–or information–will disappear. Whispers vanish in the wind just like the beauty of swirling cigarette smoke collapses into disorderly clouds. But thermodynamics also has loopholes that promote the growth of information in pockets. Our cities are pockets where information grows, but they are not all the same. For every Silicon Valley, Tokyo, and Paris, there are dozens of places with economies that accomplish little more than pulling rocks off the ground. So, why does the US economy outstrip Brazil’s, and Brazil’s that of Chad? Why did the technology corridor along Boston’s Route 128 languish while Silicon Valley blossomed? In each case, the key is how people, firms, and the networks they form make use of information.

Seen from Hidalgo’s vantage, economies become distributed computers, made of networks of people, and the problem of economic development becomes the problem of making these computers more powerful. By uncovering the mechanisms that enable the growth of information in nature and society, Why Information Grows lays bear [sic] the origins of physical order and economic growth. Situated at the nexus of information theory, physics, sociology, and economics, this book propounds a new theory of how economies can do, not just more, but more interesting things.

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See also: Author’s website

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new book – ‘Cool: How the Brain’s Hidden Quest for Cool Drives Our Economy and Shapes Our World’ by Steven Quartz and Anette Asp

April 27, 2015

Cool

Cool: How the Brain’s Hidden Quest for Cool Drives Our Economy and Shapes Our World by Steven Quartz and Anette Asp (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk),

Book description from the publisher:

If you have ever wondered why SUVs replaced minivans, how one rap song turned the cognac industry upside down, or what gives Levi’s jeans their iconic allure, look no further-in Cool, Steven Quartz and Anette Asp finally explain the fascinating science behind unexpected trends and enduring successes.
We live in a world of conspicuous consumption, where the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, and the food we eat lead double lives: they don’t merely satisfy our needs; they also communicate our values, identities, and aspirations. In Beverly Hills, tourists flock to the famous Rodeo Drive-not to shop, but simply to take photographs of themselves in front of luxury stores. And for one week in August, hundreds of thousands of HarleyDavidson fans from all over the world descend on the remote town of Sturgis, South Dakota, and engulf the otherwise sleepy hamlet in the deafening roar of motorcycle engines. Why do brands inspire such devotion?
Quartz and Asp bring together groundbreaking findings in neuroscience, economics, and evolutionary biology to present a new understanding of why we consume and how our concepts of what is “cool”-be it designer jeans, smartphones, or craft beer-help drive the global economy. The authors highlight the underlying neurological and cultural processes that contribute to our often unconscious decision making, explaining how we’re able to navigate the supermarket on autopilot for certain items and yet arrive at the checkout counter with a basket full of products picked up on the spur of the moment. And they explore the opposite side of the consumer equation-the “choice architects” who design store interiors and the “coolhunters” who scour Berlin and Tokyo on the lookout for the latest trends. Through a novel combination of cultural and economic history and in-depth studies of the brain, Cool puts forth a provocative theory of consumerism that reveals the crucial missing links in an understanding of our spending habits: our brain’s status-seeking “social calculator” and an instinct to rebel that fuels our dislike of being subordinated by others. Quartz and Asp show how these ancient motivations make us natural-born consumers and how they sparked the emergence of “cool consumption” in the middle of the twentieth century, creating new lifestyle choices and routes to happiness. Examining how cool was reshaped in the 1990s by a changing society and the Internet, they unpack the social motivations behind today’s hip, ethical consumption, arguing that we should embrace, rather than deny, the power of consumerism.
Taking us from Norman Mailer to normcore, Cool is surprising at every turn, and will forever change the way you think about money, status, desire, happiness, and choice.

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Kindle Daily Deal for Sun. 4/12 – $1.99 for ‘Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind’

April 12, 2015

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new book – ‘Curiosity’ by Alberto Manguel

March 14, 2015

Curiosity

Curiosity by Alberto Manguel (Yale University Press, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Curiosity has been seen through the ages as the impulse that drives our knowledge forward and the temptation that leads us toward dangerous and forbidden waters. The question “Why?” has appeared under a multiplicity of guises and in vastly different contexts throughout the chapters of human history. Why does evil exist? What is beauty? How does language inform us? What defines our identity? What is our responsibility to the world? In Alberto Manguel’s most personal book to date, the author tracks his own life of curiosity through the reading that has mapped his way.

Manguel chooses as his guides a selection of writers who sparked his imagination. He dedicates each chapter to a single thinker, scientist, artist, or other figure who demonstrated in a fresh way how to ask “Why?” Leading us through a full gallery of inquisitives, among them Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Lewis Carroll, Rachel Carson, Socrates, and, most importantly, Dante, Manguel affirms how deeply connected our curiosity is to the readings that most astonish us, and how essential to the soaring of our own imaginations.

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new book – ‘Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate’ by Shawn DuBravac

January 30, 2015

Digital Destiny

Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate by Shawn DuBravac (Regnery Publishing, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

A New York Times Bestseller!

Our world is about to change.

In Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Change the Way We Live, Work, and Communicate, Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and senior director of research at the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), argues that the groundswell of digital ownership unfolding in our lives signals the beginning of a new era for humanity. Beyond just hardware acquisition, the next decade will be defined by an all-digital lifestyle and the “Internet of Everything”—where everything, from the dishwasher to the wristwatch, is not only online, but acquiring, analyzing, and utilizing the data that surrounds us. But what does this mean in practice?

It means that some of mankind’s most pressing problems, such as hunger, disease, and security, will finally have a solution. It means that the rise of driverless cars could save thousands of American lives each year, and perhaps hundreds of thousands more around the planet. It means a departure from millennia-old practices, such as the need for urban centers. It means that massive inefficiencies, such as the supply chains in Africa allowing food to rot before it can be fed to the hungry, can be overcome. It means that individuals will have more freedom in action, work, health, and pursuits than ever before.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

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