My new years resolution this year was that I would write a blog-post every week. Something meaty, something substantial, blah blah, you get the idea. Alas, that hasn't happened. So I've decided I'm going to cheat. I'm going to post at the end of every week, the articles that I read and found interesting. This will probably involve me posting stuff straight from my Tumblr page - but oh well, that's life. So, without further ado, here are some interesting reads:
- William Saletan reviews Jonathan Haidt's latest book "The Righteous Mind." I am ambivalent about Haidt:on the one hand, I find his views on reason convincing, but I am not too happy with the way he "naturalizes" his ideas by grounding them into the structure of the human brain.
- The sociologist of knowledge, Donald MacKenzie gave a talk here at MIT about high-frequency trading and what it might mean for sociologists who are trying to understand the nature of prices in the economy as an aspect of social organization. So I was naturally intrigued by this Wall Street Journal piece which talks about the IPO of a trading firm that fizzled because of the wide fluctuations in price (a consequence of high-frequency trading). (H/T: Kevin Drum).
- The India Ink blog at the NYT ran a fascinating series on the problems faced by the National Archives in New Delhi. The whole series is worth reading in full: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
- We read Alfred Chandler's magisterial "The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business" for class last week. And Aaron Swartz (yes, that guy) has a really nice summary of the book that I found very useful.
- Finally, have you heard of Pinterest? I hadn't - not until last week, that is, when I read this piece. (Yes, it's another social bookmarking site, except that it collects bookmarked images and is often used by its users to curate different kinds of commercial products.) The most interesting part is Pinterest's business model:
Unlike other social networks, which waited years to monetize through advertising, Pinterest has taken a different route. They’re monetizing already by taking a cut on sales that pins on their site help generate. They partnered with a firm called SkimLinks, which automatically scans through every link posted on the site to see if it goes to a retail site with an affiliate program. If it finds that kind of link, it secretly adds an affiliate code that ensures Pinterest will make some cash from sales that derive from that link. It’s a clever game, particularly given the site’s users’ retail focus, but Pinterest probably should have disclosed the practice more openly.