Daniel Kahneman is an interesting man. Born in 1934, he is a psychologist mostly concerned with prospect theory, decision making and the psychology of judgement. Incidentally and as a sideshow he also established the intellectual foundations of Behavioural Economics, for which he was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics. Unsurprisingly (or is it? he would ask), he also writes very interesting books.
It’s funny. He’s always been there, but it’s only over the last couple of years that I’ve consciously heard him, realized he exists. It’s the little voice, sitting on my shoulder, assessing and judging. Assessing and judging you. Assessing and judging me.
How can I be a good parent? Who should I be to be a good parent? What does it even mean to be a good parent? For the last 8 months especially, these are all questions I’ve been thinking about a lot. And, with any luck, in the coming years, I might unearth some answers.
Of course, it’s relatively easy to just think about it. Actually writing it down is much harder, and posting it on the internet for all to see is even worse. After all, I could be wrong. Or – infinitely worse – I might fail to live up to the standards I set myself. But as Cialdani shows, publicly putting a stake in the ground only increases the odds I will succeed. And I’d rather have better chances than unembarrassing failure. On that note…
Tying together the latest neurology, psychology and neurology research, Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit presents a compelling description of habits: how we get them, how we change them and their wider appearance in companies and entire societies. With the framework he builds it becomes possible to understand why I can’t resist sugar and why Rosa Parks (and no one else) truly set the Civil Rights movement in motion. What’s more, it becomes possible to change my sugar addiction and understand how BigRetailChain is pulling my psychological levers to make me buy more. Well written, interesting and enjoyable, I strongly recommend this book. Continue reading
Broadly broadly, there are two ways of thinking about things. First of all, there’s the classic way. Call it the Platonic style – an infinity of absolute abstract forms, all very different from each other and none defined except by the examples which represent them. In direct contrast to this, there is mathematics. Formal, precise and unambiguous definitions of simple things using simple rules. Then a dizzying array of combinations and the emergent properties which drive Stephen Wolfram wild. Call this by what Platonically exemplifies it best: the silicon style. But wait a moment! What on Earth does this rather obscure philosophising have to do with teaching technology?
I read a bit, as much as my spare time allows. Some of the books are good, some are just a poor investment of time. But very rarely, and almost always a surprise, some of the books are massively transformational and completely change the way I think about an important part of my life. As a list for my own record and because these books might also be helpful for you, here are the one that changed me the most. What books have transformed your life? Please post in the comments, because I’m always looking for more!