Interesting insight on the use of sound bites to merchandise products.

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THE SONIC BOOM

HOW SOUND TRANSFORMS THE WAY WE THINK, FEEL, AND BUY

Man Made Music founder Beckerman, with the assistance of Gray (The Hit Charade: Lou Pearlman, Boy Bands, and the Biggest Ponzi Scheme in U.S. History, 2008), explains the use of sonic branding in advertising.

The author makes a strong case that we are unaware of the degree to which “the hidden world of sound” influences our moods and the choices we make. Although we are more aware of the information we obtain through sight, Beckerman bolsters his conclusion that it is sound rather than sight that is our most important sense, citing how The Star Spangled Banner and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony evoke powerful emotions by the use of a few repeated notes. We instantly recognize these musical phrases, or “sound logos,” which “efficiently let listeners recall and understand rich stories.” The author describes this as the use of sound to create “boom moments” that “spark memories…and, most important, elicit feelings.” For example, when creating their Bullitt Mustang, Ford Motors attempted to mimic the sound of fictional detective Frank Bullitt's 440 Magnum V-8-powered Dodge Charger. To support his case, Beckerman reviews the trajectory of his own career, beginning in the 1990s when he produced demos for songwriters by day and worked as night manager for a company creating spot advertising for radio. For example, he relates how Man Made Music created the sonic logo for AT&T. Fifteen writers worked more than 500 hours to create a theme, which was summarily turned down by the AT&T executives because it sounded “too happy.” Several weeks later, they came up with a new concept that evoked the idea of innovation by creating an anthem involving different combinations of four notes. These were the basis of the ring tones now “loaded on hundreds of thousands of phones” and featured in AT&T ads.

Interesting insight on the use of sound bites to merchandise products.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0544191747

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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