Zoref makes a convincing case for crowdsourcing everything from careers to romance.

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MINDSHARING

THE ART OF CROWDSOURCING EVERYTHING

Welcome to the virtual village, where the right answers are no farther away than your keyboard.

Do too many cooks really spoil the broth? Not necessarily, claims former Microsoft marketing and online services guru Zoref in this informative look at the way crowds can help us make better, smarter decisions. You’ll get better results, writes the author, if you ask lots of people for advice, because groups can actually provide more accurate answers than the experts. Many readers will have encountered this topic and argument before, and Zoref readily refers to landmark studies such as Mark Granovetter’s 1973 paper on the strength of less intimate relationships, or “weak ties.” We’ve long recognized that a diverse group of acquaintances may be able to create a better solution to a problem than our more biased friends and families. But never before have we had ready access to such a huge number of acquaintances as we do now in the era of social media. Zoref explores how technology expands, accelerates and simplifies the process of taking a question to the people. The author writes in a friendly, conversational style and reassuringly confesses the insecurities he faced on the way to becoming an international speaker on crowd wisdom. The humorous story of how, and why, he dared to lead an ox onto the TED stage, and similar tales, makes his surprising successes with crowd wisdom all the more believable. Zoref knows the research and makes useful reference to it throughout the book, but he doesn’t pretend to be offering a survey of group psychology. Instead, he gets down to practical matters, like how readers can harness the power of the crowd by frequently updating their LinkedIn profiles and knowing what not to ask their Facebook friends.

Zoref makes a convincing case for crowdsourcing everything from careers to romance.

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59184-665-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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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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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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