‘Authoritarian and Democratic Technics’

innovation, interactivity, Technology

“There are large areas of technology that can be redeemed by the democratic process, once we have overcome the infantile compulsions and automatisms that now threaten to cancel out our real gains. The very leisure that the machine now gives in advanced countries can be profitably used, not for further commitment to still other kinds of machine, furnishing
automatic recreation, but by doing significant forms of work, unprofitable or technically impossible under mass production: work dependent upon special skill, knowledge, aesthetic sense. The do-it-yourself movement prematurely got bogged down in an attempt to sell still more machines; but its slogan pointed in the right direction, provided we still have a self to do it with. The glut of motor cars that is now destroying our cities can be coped with only if we redesign our cities to make fuller use of a more efficient human agent: the walker. Even in childbirth, the emphasis is already happily shifting from an officious, often lethal, authoritarian procedure, centered in hospital routine, to a more human mode, which restores initiative to the mother and to the body’s natural rhythm”.

from Lewis Mumford 1964. Authoritarian and Democratic Technics. In Technology and Culture Vol 5(1): 1-8

Obama launches Web App to Raise Awareness about Climate Change

innovation, Marketing, Teaching, Technology

It’s increasingly recognized that while large parts of the of populations of the US (and other Western countries) are aware of climate change and accept that human action contributes to it only little behavioural change can be observed. People continue with their lives as usual although knowing their actions contribute to climate change.

“Although a poll by the Pew Research Center last October found that 67 percent of Americans believe that global warming is happening, a Pew poll in January showed that Americans ranked global warming as 19th on a list of 20 issues for Congress and the president.” (NYT-19 March 2014)

President Obama now has launched the development of a website that is designed to make visible to people the impact of climate change locally, in their citie  and neighborhoods. The New York Times reported on this development in its Science Section “Obama Turns to Web to Illustrate the Effects of a Changing Climate” and cites the motivation behind the campaign as “building a political case for the climate rules, both by defusing the opposition and by trying to create an urgent sense among Americans that they are necessary”.

Gail Markle’s recent article “Accounting for the Performance of Environmentally Significant Behavior: The Symbolic Significance of Recycling” published in Symbolic Interaction addresses this very same issue. Markle investigates why people consider recycling as a sufficient action to help the environment although being aware of the impact their consumption habits and life-style have on the environment.

A related campaign to use the Internet to raise awareness for ethics and ethical action has recently been launched by Andrea Prothero, Associate Professor at University College Dublin. The Facebook Group Talk About Ethics was launched a couple of weeks ago and encourages its members to take pictures of themselves stating why ‘talking about ethics’ is important.

Pricing and Amazon.com

analysis, innovation, Marketing, Technology

When I tweeted a review of Andreas Glaeser’s book yesterday that I had read on orgtheory.net a friend retweeted the post and added that “it’s only $8.55 on kindle”. Since I new the book was priced at £18.17 on amazon.co.uk I looked up the amazon.com site with my iPhone and noticed that it showed me a price of $29.10.


When arriving home I checked the book on my laptop and found a difference in price when I looked into the amazon.com site from when I was not logged in.

When logged into Amazon.com the price was $29.10.


When I log out of my account and search for the book again, the price goes down to $8.55.


This observation points wither to personalized pricing or to big differences in geographical pricing of books and probably other items. In any case it reminds me of the advice that Eli Pariser gives in his book an on his website The Filter Bubble, clean your cookies.

The Facebook Era

Book Review, innovation

Another book I recently read was Clara Shih’s ‘The Facebook Era‘. The book now in it’s 2nd edition gives practical advice on how to effectively use Facebook for marketing/business purposes. The information provided is based on Shih’s experience with business and seems very useful for practitioners in business. … I think I now read enough about Facebook for 2011. Time to check what my friends are up to…