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Book Review: Intriguing Insights into the Potential of Female Leadership

Potential of Female LeadershipThe Potential of Female Leadership explores what lessons we may learn from bonobos’ matriarchal social structure, so we can build stronger, more collaborative human communities and groups. Bonobo Handshake is an enthralling insightful book, which I review here. A tremendous bonus is its similarities to and significant differences from Chimpanzee Politics (reviewed yesterday).

Bonobo Handshake was on the same library shelf as Chimpanzee Politics, but it is a very different book, and in delightful ways. At the same time, it offers intriguing insight into bonobos’ behavior, which differs significantly from chimpanzees’ and holds interesting lessons for human societies and groups. Although Woods is not a primatologist per se, she has conducted extensive research with her husband, who is, so explaining scientific experiments forms a key part of this book.

Bonobo Handshake is rare in a surprising way. Deftly and subtly, it contrasts the joy, harmony and matriarchal structure of the bonobos with chimpanzees’ and humans’ patriarchal societies and violence: the wars in and around the two Congos result in the murder […]

Book Review: Unique, Insightful and Useful Guide to Business and Civil Politics

Unique Guide Business Civil Politics book review graphicUnique, Insightful and Useful Guide to Business and Civil Politics reveals human political strategies through the eyes of a primatologist studying a chimpanzee community. It lays bare most of the behavior people use “to get ahead” in business and politics by explaining the evolutionary underpinnings of these behaviors, so we can appreciate them at a new level.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m not political!”? S/He may mean well, but this book shows that one cannot be human without being “political”; moreover, it explains political behavior in hilarious, poignant ways that help the reader in multiple ways as I detail here. It is immensely entertaining to read while being scientific in its assertions.

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Converging Trends and Technologies Enabling the Police State

Technologies Enabling the Police StateTechnologies Enabling the Police State describes the inevitability of pervasive surveillance, how it’s developing, and how we can act now to maintain the maximum degree of freedom. This is Part1 of a series on autonomy in the digital age. Personal and Collective Actions to Maintain Autonomy (Part2) is a how-to post, while Police State Scenarios (Part3) discusses ways that collective loss of autonomy may unfold.

Despite their grim titles, these posts are not intended as doomsday writings, and I don’t intend to say that I think a police state is being developed intentionally. My conclusion is rather that the technologies of mass control are developing rapidly, and the risk is significant that some group will seize control of them in the foreseeable future. I think you’ll find some of their points surprising, perhaps even breakthrough. Please let me know in comments!

I did not want to write this post, and I doubt that you want to read it; however, as I explain here, we’re at a pivotal point of human history. We are rapidly losing our individual and […]

Behavioral Economics, Autonomy and Ethical Land Mines

Overview: Behavioral Economics Autonomy and Ethics user experience designBehavioral economics autonomy and ethics is a thought experiment on how to approach “doing good” when applying the emerging practice of behavioral economics. Along with big data analytics and cognitive science, behavioral economics affords businesses, governments and other organizations unprecedented impact on individuals’ behavior, even without their consent or awareness. This arouses serious ethical and social dilemmas.

Every behavioral economics practitioner I’ve met has emphasized the importance of using its practice “for good” in order to help people. Like all other human endeavors, however, “for good” is open to interpretation, so I’ll apply my experience with ethnographic and behavioral analysis of social media to reflect on what “for good” might mean in light of individual and group autonomy.

I also hope this Noodle will be food for thought for executives who hire behavioral economics firms as well as all of us who are invariably its subject. In a similar vein, most designers I know are committed to using design principles to improve user experience, and there’s considerable overlap between design and behavioral economics.

Behavioral economics is as […]

Pricing Guide for the Knowledge Economy with Behavioral Economics

How Free Things Are Disrupting Businesses + Radical Innovation + Guide to Free Business Models

Book Review: Free/Chris Anderson

Pricing Guide for the Knowledge Economy with Behavioral EconomicsFree is an indispensable introduction to the disruption of “a product for a price,” one of the Industrial Economy’s key constructs. It is rich with examples of many of the pricing innovations and business models with which you’re probably familiar but haven’t thought about in depth. Many of its examples have to do with digital products, which are inherently disruptive because their distribution cost is close to zero, and they can displace legacy analog products.

Free is important and useful for two reasons beyond pricing and business model innovation: it contains a good dollop of behavioral economics with regard to pricing, and it gives numerous examples for thinking beyond the two-party market model that dominated the Industrial Economy, buyer and seller. As Anderson repeatedly shows, in digitally networked markets spawned by the Internet, firms put themselves at significant risk when they don’t adopt a networked ecosystem mindset. For example:

When something becomes free, it […]