Sometimes dry, sometimes undercooked, but a useful snapshot of the rising new service economy—of considerable interest to...

READ REVIEW

PLATFORM REVOLUTION

HOW NETWORKED MARKETS ARE TRANSFORMING THE ECONOMY—AND HOW TO MAKE THEM WORK FOR YOU

An exploration of “a simple-sounding yet transformative concept that is radically changing business, the economy, and society at large.”

A platform, by the definition of business professors Parker (Tulane Univ.) and Van Alstyne (Boston Univ.) and Singapore-based analyst Choudary, is “a new business model that uses technology to connect people, organizations, and resources in an interactive ecosystem in which amazing amounts of value can be created and exchanged.” So value is created—not goods, not cures for cancer, but value, and most often in such a way that the people who own the platform leverage what other people own, be it a car (Uber) or knowledge (Wikipedia). In a mixed metaphor, the authors argue that platforms “beat pipelines because platforms scale more efficiently by eliminating gatekeepers.” Pipelines have shutoff valves and not gates, but never mind: the idea is that old-school regulatory agencies, editors, tax authorities, and other middlemen get out of the way of the transaction. The “positive network effects” thus achieved create the value, if they can be monetized properly—and how they’re monetizing out there, whether evading city hotel taxes in the case of Airbnb or using reputation ratings to vet babysitters in the case of Sittercity. The authors take their arguments on platforms beyond the business level to advocate delivering government services in similar form, as Singapore—authoritarian, ultracapitalist, and the authors’ seeming ideal—has done to some extent (though, they note, San Francisco, less authoritarian and less capitalist, has done even more). At the same time, they note the regulatory headaches the platform model induces, offering ideas for a “regulation 2.0” regime that encourages transparency while reducing inertia. In all this, it helps to have some background in the language and concepts of finance, economics, and business (“short-term micro-patent”), though that is not a barrier to entry.

Sometimes dry, sometimes undercooked, but a useful snapshot of the rising new service economy—of considerable interest to students of business.

Pub Date: March 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-393-24913-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Critics Circle Finalist

CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

A French academic serves up a long, rigorous critique, dense with historical data, of American-style predatory capitalism—and offers remedies that Karl Marx might applaud.

Economist Piketty considers capital, in the monetary sense, from the vantage of what he considers the capital of the world, namely Paris; at times, his discussions of how capital works, and especially public capital, befit Locke-ian France and not Hobbesian America, a source of some controversy in the wide discussion surrounding his book. At heart, though, his argument turns on well-founded economic principles, notably r > g, meaning that the “rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy,” in Piketty’s gloss. It logically follows that when such conditions prevail, then wealth will accumulate in a few hands faster than it can be broadly distributed. By the author’s reckoning, the United States is one of the leading nations in the “high inequality” camp, though it was not always so. In the colonial era, Piketty likens the inequality quotient in New England to be about that of Scandinavia today, with few abject poor and few mega-rich. The difference is that the rich now—who are mostly the “supermanagers” of business rather than the “superstars” of sports and entertainment—have surrounded themselves with political shields that keep them safe from the specter of paying more in taxes and adding to the fund of public wealth. The author’s data is unassailable. His policy recommendations are considerably more controversial, including his call for a global tax on wealth. From start to finish, the discussion is written in plainspoken prose that, though punctuated by formulas, also draws on a wide range of cultural references.

Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to work explaining the most complex of ideas, foremost among them the fact that economic inequality is at an all-time high—and is only bound to grow worse.

Pub Date: March 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-674-43000-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

more