Tag Archives: interesting

Equipping for Emergencies: What Items Disappear First?

As someone who lives in an eco­nom­ic­ally, cli­mat­ic­ally and polit­ic­ally stable West­ern coun­try, the chances are some­what remote that I’ll ever encounter an emer­gency that requires fore­thought and care­ful plan­ning1. Nev­er­the­less, that does­n’t stop me from enjoy­ing this list of the 100 most in-demand goods dur­ing an emer­gency.

This list appar­ently ori­gin­ates from someone called Joseph Almond who cre­ated it in 1999 after observing the beha­viour of con­sumers pre­par­ing for Y2K-related prob­lems. I say “appar­ently” because I can­’t find any sug­ges­tion that this is actu­ally true.

Nev­er­th­less, there’s some­thing about this list that is inher­ently intriguing, even though I’m far from a mem­ber of the sur­viv­al­ism move­ment. Oh, and feel free to share this with the more voguish title: How to pre­pare for the zom­bie apo­ca­lypse. Now that will get you some of them pre­cious retweets.

via Ask Meta­Fil­ter

1 Although I’m not know for my futur­ism.

Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion and the Importance of Recognising “Enforced Compliance”

Influ­ence: The Psy­cho­logy of Per­sua­sion is Robert Cialdin­i’s 1984 book dis­cuss­ing what he calls the six fun­da­ment­al psy­cho­lo­gic­al prin­ciples of com­pli­ance: con­sist­ency, recip­roc­a­tion, social proof, author­ity, lik­ing and scarcity.

The con­clu­sion to Cialdin­i’s book points out why, in this increas­ingly com­plex world, res­ist­ing attempts at “enforced com­pli­ance” (decep­tion) through these key prin­ciples is as import­ant as recog­nising and respond­ing to truth­ful instances of their imple­ment­a­tion:

Because tech­no­logy can evolve much faster than we can, our nat­ur­al capa­city to pro­cess inform­a­tion is likely to be increas­ingly inad­equate to handle the sur­feit of change, choice, and chal­lenge that is char­ac­ter­ist­ic of mod­ern life. More and more fre­quently, we will find ourselves in the pos­i­tion of the lower animals—with a men­tal appar­at­us that is unequipped to deal thor­oughly with the intric­acy and rich­ness of the out­side envir­on­ment. Unlike the anim­als, whose cog­nit­ive powers have always been rel­at­ively defi­cient, we have cre­ated our own defi­ciency by con­struct­ing a rad­ic­ally more com­plex world. But the con­sequence of our new defi­ciency is the same as that of the anim­als’ long-stand­ing one. When mak­ing a decision, we will less fre­quently enjoy the lux­ury of a fully con­sidered ana­lys­is of the total situ­ation but will revert increas­ingly to a focus on a single, usu­ally reli­able fea­ture of it.

When those single fea­tures are truly reli­able, there is noth­ing inher­ently wrong with the short­cut approach of nar­rowed atten­tion and auto­mat­ic response to a par­tic­u­lar piece of inform­a­tion. The prob­lem comes when some­thing causes the nor­mally trust­worthy cues to coun­sel us poorly, to lead us to erro­neous actions and wrong­headed decisions.

The Long Game: Civilization II and Sim City’s Magnasanti

After ten years of play­ing the same Civil­iz­a­tion II cam­paign (my favour­ite game ever), Red­dit user Lyceri­us has ended up cre­at­ing a dysto­pi­an semi-self-sus­tain­ing world, where the three remain­ing “super-nations” are in a con­stant state of espi­on­age and nuc­le­ar war.

The details of Lyceri­us’ “hellish night­mare” world are abso­lutely fas­cin­at­ing: the mil­it­ary stale­mate; the 1700-year war; and the glob­al warm­ing epi­dem­ic that led to melt­ing ice caps, fam­ine, and the end of cit­ies. This is the polit­ic­al situ­ation:

The only gov­ern­ments left are two theo­cra­cies and myself, a com­mun­ist state. I wanted to stay a demo­cracy, but the Sen­ate would always over-rule me when I wanted to declare war before the Vik­ings did. This would delay my attack and render my turn and often my plans use­less. And of course the Vik­ings would then break the cease fire like clock­work the very next turn. […] I was forced to do away with demo­cracy roughly a thou­sand years ago because it was endan­ger­ing my empire. But of course the people hate me now and every few years since then, there are massive guer­rilla […] upris­ings in the heart of my empire that I have to deal with which saps resources from the war effort.

This reminds me of Mag­nas­anti: the total­it­ari­an city cre­ated in Sim City 3000 that sus­tains the max­im­um pop­u­la­tion (six mil­lion) for 50,000 years. The inter­view with it’s ‘maker’, archi­tec­ture stu­dent Vin­cent Ocasla, is worth a read.

Keep these people away from town plan­ning depart­ments, please.

Mag­nas­anti via Kot­tke

The Personal Business of Recommending Books

For book recom­mend­a­tions, most of us rely on the sug­ges­tions of trus­ted friends and on word of mouth. This, at least, allows us to hold someone account­able for those inev­it­able poor recom­mend­a­tions. But what of ‘pro­fes­sion­al’ book recom­mend­ers (writers in pub­lic­a­tions, not algorithmic ‘recom­mend­ers’)?

Laura Miller–author of the book recom­mend­a­tion Slate column, –looks at what she calls the fine art of recom­mend­ing books.

“You can­’t recom­mend books to strangers without ask­ing per­son­al ques­tions,” [edit­or of the Par­is Review, Lor­in Stein] told me. As he poin­ted out, what we want to read is often pegged to trans­it­ory moods. The same book may not thrill the same per­son at every point in his or her life. “I don’t think people read ‘for’ pleas­ure, exactly,” he went on. “Of course there is pleas­ure in read­ing. But mainly we do it out of need. Because we’re lonely, or con­fused, or need to laugh, or want some kind of pro­tec­tion or quiet — or dis­turb­ance, or truth, or whatever.” The recom­mend­er must take this into account.

Miller also looks at the book recom­mend­ing pro­cesses of The Morn­ing News’ Bib­li­or­acle (John Warner) and “the doy­en of all pro­fes­sion­al book recom­mend­ers”, Nancy Pearl.

Pearl sug­gests that there are four “door­ways” that intrigue read­ers in the books they read: story, char­ac­ters, set­ting and lan­guage. One or more of these door­ways appeal to each type of read­er and the task of the recom­mend­er is in match­ing the read­er­’s door­way pref­er­ence with a book that deliv­ers exactly that.

The Ideas of Frank Chimero

Design­er Frank Chi­mero presents his ‘Ideas’: his mani­festo of sorts prin­ciples on cre­ativ­ity, motiv­a­tion and innov­a­tion. Chi­mero briefly cov­ers sev­en top­ics, entitled:

  • Why is Great­er Than How
  • Not More. Instead, Bet­ter.
  • Sur­prise + Clar­ity = Delight
  • Sin­cire, Authen­t­ic & Hon­est
  • No Sil­ver Bul­lets, No Secrets
  • Qual­ity + Sin­cer­ity = Enthu­si­asm
  • Everything is Some­thing or Oth­er

I’m par­tic­u­larly fond of the final two top­ics and this, from Why is Great­er Than How:

This com­plex world has made us over-emphas­ize How-based think­ing and edu­ca­tion. Once the tools are under­stood, under­stand­ing why to do cer­tain things becomes more valu­able than how to do them. How is recipes, and learn­ing a craft is more than fol­low­ing instruc­tions.

How is import­ant for new prac­ti­tion­ers focused on avoid­ing mis­takes. Why is for those who wish to push, are not risk-averse and seek to improve. How is coulda, Why is shoulda. How is fin­ish­ing tasks, Why is ful­filling object­ives. How usu­ally res­ults in more. Why usu­ally res­ults in bet­ter.

via Link Banana