Monday, June 2, 2008

posting pipeline

There are quite a few "big idea" posts in the pipeline that are currently gestating in different forms. It's helpful for me to organize thoughts beforehand into questions or topic areas, and I thought I would share what I'm thinking about. Any comment requests one way or another will affect what I get around to sooner rather than later:

1) Passenger or Policy-maker?
Rather than “Yes, We Can!” a more thoughtful response to a promising proposal would be, “Yes! Can we?” This post will explore how we have a tendency to be overconfident about what we know and we can do to bring about end results we desire. From individuals playing the stock market (such as myself) to high-powered execs in the banking world, there is good reason to believe we are living in a world very different from how we perceive it. The repercussions of this lack of understanding wouldn’t be so devastating if it wasn’t accompanied by an overconfidence that caused us to act brazenly despite the folly of running down a dark flight of stairs. This topic has direct and significant implications for business and political leaders, and by, extension, us, as the shareholders and citizens who support their leadership.

2) Hope for the Bottom Billion
There is reason to hope for the bottom billion people in the world, who have been excluded from the tremendous economic growth of the mid-late 20th century. This post will explore what is changing for them, why, and what we can learn from the process.

3) What is a nation-state?
In light of a book by Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, this post will examine the role of the nation-state, and how different modes of interpretation can change the nation-state’s perceived utility.

4) Work in the 21st century
In light of the same Reich book, this post will look at how the value of different types of work has been changing, and how these changes have affected both the spatial distribution of workers and the income potential of different types of workers.

5) Translating environmentalism into policy
Most people agree that it’s better to conserve the environment than to destroy it, especially if it will cause large-scale destruction in the not-so-distant future. Disagreement arises because of unclear costs and benefits. I’ve already posted before about the lack of clarity on the actual goals of many environmental plans (Why 30% reduction in X? Why not 40%? Or 20? Why not a reduction in Y?); this post will focus on the cost end of conservation plans (SPOILER ALERT: Al Gore’s plan is a little extravagant…)

6) What is Freedom?
Are you free from oppression, or free to do something? Is freedom a negative right or a positive right? This post will join the chorus that economic freedom is the key to personal and public prosperity, but with an understanding of freedom as a positive, not negative, right.

7) Learning from video games
If I had to define my computer supraliteracy period I would call it the “Pre-Second Life Age.” The 21st century has ushered in the creation of parallel virtual worlds, whose potential has not come close to being tapped. The Harvard Business Review recently had an article on the potential for leadership development in these massive multiplayer role-playing games, and adeptly notes that the current crop of games is especially well-suited for quick tactical decision-making often found in military action. I don’t know a ton about these games first-hand, but they appeal to me as incredible social science laboratories.

8) Reverse engineering the Swedish Kool-Aid
The Nordic states seem to have it all figured out. They eclipse the competitiveness of the US while providing the social net of Europe. How? Why? What can we learn from our blonde friends?

9) Gentrification, suburbia, and sprawl
In light of Alex’s comment on the Jane Jacobs book, an exploration of how the government has accidentally preconditioned cities for gentrification, scared up White Flight, promoted suburban sprawl, and created an incentive for people to arrange themselves spatially in an unproductive and inefficient pattern.

10) The problem of fairness
In light of Max Bazerman’s work on cognitive biases, a look at how we perceive fairness, and how sensitive our perception is to the presentation of data. Special attention paid to understanding how to develop a coherent conception of fairness.

11) Cognitive biases in business
Bazerman has laid out a ton of cognitive biases borne out in psychological studies. This post will briefly summarize them and connect them to current policy issues.


Lia said...

Ill make my vote for #2 and/or #4 to move up to the front of the queue.

Lia said...

Ok, actually, put #7 at the top of the list. I am really eager to learn how my enjoyment of an unnamed computer game is going to be applicable to my daily life.