Monday, April 17, 2006

Value of Social Networks

Today I received this e-mail about an author and his new book--in Cambridge, MA. To quote:

I thought some of you might be interested in this event featuring Yochai Benkler speaking about his new book:
Please join Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society on Tuesday evening for a short talk by Yochai Benkler, and then a celebration in his honor. Prof. Benkler has recently published his book, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom," through the Yale University Press.

Prof. Benkler's research at Yale Law School focuses on the effects of laws that regulate information production and exchange on the distribution of control over information flows, knowledge, and culture in the digital environment. His particular focus has been the neglected role of commons-based approaches toward management of resources in the digitally networked environment, the increasing importance of nonmarket production in general and collaborative peer production in particular, and the significance of these phenomena in both economic and political terms.

The Wealth of Networks is a comprehensive social theory of the Internet and the networked information economy. In it, Benkler describes how patterns of information, knowledge, and cultural production are changing-and shows that the way information and knowledge are made available can either limit or enlarge the ways people can create and express themselves.

More information on the book (and ordering information) is available at
and you may download it (parts and much more) on his wiki at

Sounds interesting...Benny

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Idea Generation, Creativity, and Incentives

Columbia University researcher Olivier Toubia used an online discussion tree to devise an impact-based measure of how one idea in a group setting affects the generation of other ideas. That measure then served as the basis of an incentive system to reward individuals for stimulating ideas among other group members. An online test of the measure, with three groups of 26 members each, showed its value compared to two more common incentive methods.

The test asked the groups to generate ideas on the same problem — in this case, how to improve the United Nations Security Council. In the first group, everyone received the same flat fee. In the second group, your reward depended on how many ideas you contributed. In the third group, your reward depended on how many ideas other group members added to your ideas in the discussion tree.

The results showed that the third group generated more ideas overall, more different streams of ideas and ideas that were more fully articulated.

Read the rest here (text borrowed directly from Columbia's Ideas@Work).

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ad-Busting Brain

From Seed Magazine:

Study shows that some words used in consumer branding only dig so deep into the brain.

by David Cohn • Posted March 22, 2006 11:48 AM

In news that must be distressing to advertisers spending an average of over $350,000 to produce a national 30 second commercial, a study examining the neural response to brand personality suggests that consumers aren't buying the hype.


The finding indicates that the anthropomorphizing of brands often used in commercials isn't humanizing a product, and thus, the ad is falling on deaf ears.

Read the rest here.

It has implications for those who advertise on the Net.

I noticed that Seed is also advertising a Science Writing Contest--their first annual. This is intended to inspire writers to think critically about the state of science in America.


Amidst emerging competitive threats from abroad (China and India in particular) and heated debates over intelligent design, stem cells and climate change: What is the future of science in America? What should the US do to preserve and build upon its role as a leader in scientific innovation?

I bet readers and consultants on this blog could pen some great "overviews" and solutions on that topic. Winners get their essays published in the magazine and a little bit of cash.