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Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us)

Stashed in: Economics!, Cars!, Influence!, Psychology!, For Milo, For Conrad, Auto Erotica, Give and Take

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Really enjoyed that book. :)

This is awesome: "Conceptually, Monderman had overcome what is generally known as “the tragedy of the commons”. Any resource held in common is vulnerable to any individual who simply decides to exploit it for his own benefit. The roads are commons and, in a village as in many other traffic situations, drivers, isolated in their cars, are the exploiters. By muddling the road, Monderman shamed the exploiters by exposing them to the spatial demands of others."

So how far can this lesson be taken?

-How do we align incentives so people do what we need them to do, or the right thing to do? Practically speaking it's an economics problem but often we leave it as a squishy moral problem and we're left without a plan for change. Some interesting info on similar issues here:

-This also makes me think of the Ma Bell monopoly. How do you get someone other than the government to invest in a massive infrastructure project that all will benefit from? Give them a monopoly -- or at least a temporary one. Same with patents and copyright. They're incentive plans to protect those who make massive investments that (can) benefit the common good.

-Thaler's book NUDGE deals with the use of similar behavioral economics type schemes to manipulate people's decisions.

Thanks Eric. Is NUDGE as good as Robert Cialdini's book INFLUENCE, which describes a framework for the psychology of persuasion by identifying six approaches to persuasion tasks:

1) Reciprocation -- Repay gifts.

2) Commitment and Consistency -- Follow through.

3) Social Proof -- When in doubt, follow the crowd.

4) Liking -- Believe those you like.

5) Authority -- Be part of the team; listen to experts.

6) Scarcity -- Value what is rare.

These tools, though not subtle, can be employed in ways that put the "B" in subtle, as the book describes.

INFLUENCE is one of the top ten books I have ever read. That's a high bar. :) It's definitely worth checking out the wikipedia entry on NUDGE:

Thanks Eric -- your endorsement of INFLUENCE makes me wonder what your other top 9 books are.

And your link to NUDGE makes me wonder if we ever actually make independent decisions at all.

I would like to know Eric's top 10 books as well.

Nudge is based on an area of behavioral economics that talks about setting up systems that allow free choice, but create default settings that lead people to desired behavior.

The canonical example: When an HR department makes automatic deductions to 401(k) plans opt-in, only about 15 to 20% of employees take advantage of them. But, when HR departments make 401(k) plan deductions opt-out, then around 95% of employees take advantage of them.

They call the basic philosophy parental libertarianism. Allow tons of free will, but provide guidance through sensible defaults. I really liked the book.

A designer friend at Apple quoted the same number to me -- 95% of people don't change the defaults.

This explains why Facebook keeps modifying its privacy policy to be more permissive, or why the default Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Tumblr accounts are public to all.

I don't have a definitive list of my top ten books... yet. Here are some of the books that influenced me the most: That list needs updating but it's still pretty solid. I have more books I recommend on the front page of my blog (right hand column) but it's not exhaustive nor prioritized: I'm going to be doing a more thorough list soon. It's on the to-do list. :)


Is there anything you employ to manage your to-do list more effectively?

Maybe I should try those.

Right now I just use pmarca-style index cards:

They're good for the big stuff but I unfortunately miss a lot as I strive to be excellent.

Try using Omnifocus (for Mac and mobile) to keep to-do lists more efficiently managed... it's brilliant.

Brilliant if you're on a Mac. I still like Marc Andreessen's technique of a single index card each day of items you MUST do that day. Also brilliant.

One of the best time management techniques I've ever used is the assignment of "time budgets" to each of the tasks I want to accomplish in a day (or day part.) When the allotted time has been invested in a task, that task is set aside and another task begins. If the task is unfinished, it's pushed to the next day part. Not only does this make sure my efforts are properly distributed, it helps me avoid getting bogged down and fit more into a day.

Great idea. Now if I could just resist the urge to check email and mobile devices regularly...

Cialdini's organizational scheme (Social proof, Authority, Scarcity, Like, Consistency, Reciprocity) is employed well in this social commerce infographic.

I shared this on Twitter!

Thank you. As your reward I will share with you 21 motivation tactics.

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