My regular Sunday piece of interesting, longer, deeper stories I found during the week. It’s also a chance for you to share what you found this week too. Those stimulating links you wanted to share, but just didn’t fit in anywhere (no linkwhoring). This week: The Olympics, some interesting science on inequality and performance pay, and what does history look like when it’s not the propaganda of the victor?
When governments pitch for the Olympics they tell the country how great it will be for them economically (if not for the government’s finances). But with the incredibly tight sponsorship deals and laws stopping anyone associating themselves with the Olympics, 2012, London, Gold, Silver, Bronze etc local businesses will find it very difficult to make any gains from it. Local workers meanwhile, can’t get chips from anywhere other than McDonalds anywhere close to the main venues. In a concession from McDs, now at some restaurants an exception has been made for the traditional fish and chips, but you can’t have chips by themselves, or with anything other than fish. Brand police have swarmed in to protect McDs, Coca-Cola, Cadbury’s and all the other healthy living sponsors…
Meanwhile, on BBC Future, there is some interesting science examined. A couple of biologists have research suggesting inequality is natural, and an advantage to society. With a ‘Big Man’ to follow, society is much more efficient at avoiding threats and finding goals (eg good food sources). This only works if the ‘Big Man’ is correct of course, and we have faith in them (and how much faith do you have that our leaders are correct..?). There’s an interesting point for the future and the need to ensure good digital education. With the internet:
It’s often suggested that by lowering the cost of communication, electronic networking will make it easier for everyone to access information and so will flatten the social hierarchy. The researchers find that, if there is an initial inequality in how information is distributed, lowering communication costs counter-intuitively sustains this steep hierarchy and promotes inequality. There’s less incentive to spread information around: you can just keep on looking until you find it.
There is also a piece on the effect of money on motivation. Bonuses turn out to reduce performance. When extrinsic motivation is added, intrinsic motivation reduces. And with high stakes on success, we choke – too much of our brain is focussed on motivation and not enough on the task. Dan Airely of Duke University:
If I ask you to help me change a tire on my car you might be willing to help, but if I offer you a dollar for this you don’t say to yourself ‘gee I get to help Dan and I get a dollar’. In contrast you say: ‘It’s a dollar, I don’t work for a dollar’ and you’re less interested in doing this.
If I gave you a bigger bonus to jump you would jump more times. You have very good control over your legs and if I give you more money you will transmit more power to them and therefore you will be more successful. We don’t have the same control over memory, creativity and concentration. You can’t will yourself into a higher state of concentration and creativity. It’s actually counterproductive and hinders performance strongly.
Finally, a piece looking at how the Turks don’t see Alexander as Great. Locally, Reading the Maps, looks at Samoan history that Te Radar is missing on his televised holidays. Some pretty ugly reading as a New Zealander if we wish to scratch beneath the surface. Other posts of his over other islands.
– How big will Libor get? (22 banks are being sued over it)
– Inactivity pandemic kills as many as smoking.
– was the euro created to ensure the triumph of the ‘free’ market over democracy?