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tim harford @ google February 2, 2008

Posted by KG in books, econ, media, neuroscience, psychology, speeches, talks, tech.
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discussing his new book, the logic of life: the rational economics of an irrational world…interesting bit about “hyperbolic discounting,” or the idea that “consequences which occur at a later time, good or bad, tend to have a lot less bearing on our choices the more distantly they fall in the future” @ 43min:

mark penn & microtrends January 29, 2008

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, books, marketing, news, politics, tech.
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A pollster by trade, the CEO of PR giant Burson-Marsteller by position, Penn is obsessed with carving up the electorate into itty-bitty slices and famous for propounding micro-policies to satisfy their cravings and allay their anxieties. Among many in the Clinton circle, he is regarded with intense suspicion; his feuding with her communications director, Howard Wolfson, and longtime ally Harold Ickes is legendary. “A lot of Clinton people aren’t sure that Penn is really a Democrat—you know, he’s kind of a New York Sun guy,” says one of his clients. “Some of them wouldn’t piss on his head if his hair were on fire.”


Clinton’s focus on the quotidian telegraphs to voters her seriousness about issues and tangible deliverables. And this, in turn, may help explain why she is doing so much better among downscale voters than Obama is—along with highlighting one of the core strengths of her candidacy in an ever-worsening economy. According to copious research conducted by Penn, upscale voters tend to focus more on personality and character, while working stiffs focus more on substance and on who will effectively defend their interests. “The eggheads have become the jug-heads,” Penn says, “and the jug-heads have become the eggheads.”

penn discussing microtrends & his book @ google:

jeffrey toobin @ google January 27, 2008

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, books, interviews, politics, talks.
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jeffrey toobin with an elegant recap of bush v. gore @ 42min (check out the whole video for interesting anecdotes about the supreme court justices as well):

new insights on poverty January 19, 2008

Posted by KG in animation, econ, environment, health, history, international, media, politics, science, talks, tech.
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professor hans rosling @ TED in 2006 (20:35):

2007 presentation available here

“Even the most worldly and well-traveled among us will have their perspectives shifted by Hans Rosling. A professor of global health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, his current work focuses on dispelling common myths about the so-called developing world, which (he points out) is no longer worlds away from the west. In fact, most of the third world is on the same trajectory toward health and prosperity, and many countries are moving twice as fast as the west did.

What sets Rosling apart isn’t just his apt observations of broad social and economic trends, but the stunning way he presents them. Guaranteed: You’ve never seen data presented like this. By any logic, a presentation that tracks global health and poverty trends should be, in a word: boring. But in Rosling’s hands, data sings. Trends come to life. And the big picture — usually hazy at best — snaps into sharp focus.

Rosling’s presentations are grounded in solid statistics (often drawn from United Nations data), illustrated by the visualization software he developed. The animations transform development statistics into moving bubbles and flowing curves that make global trends clear, intuitive and even playful. During his legendary presentations, Rosling takes this one step farther, narrating the animations with a sportscaster’s flair.

Rosling developed the breakthrough software behind his visualizations through his nonprofit Gapminder, founded with his son and daughter-in-law. The free software — which can be loaded with any data — was purchased by Google in March 2007. (Rosling met the Google founders at TED.)”

grammar matters January 14, 2008

Posted by KG in cognitive science, comedy, language, politics, science, talks.
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scroll to 20:30 for proof:

obama@google November 17, 2007

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, econ, environment, health, immigration, international, interviews, iraq, iraq war, media, news, politics, race, religion, science, tech, terrorism.
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i was forced to suspend my critical, skeptical, and cynical nature for a moment, as i found myself fairly impressed…

(most of the best parts come during the q&a)

google’s $10 million “android” prizes November 12, 2007

Posted by KG in design, econ, media, news, tech.
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tyler cowen on the economics of prizes:


Today Google put out a sneak peek at Android in the form of an SDK — a software developers kit that will help programmers get used to making things for Android phones.

The company also announced $10 million in prizes for developers who build great Android programs. The Android Developers Challenge offers 50 prizes of $25,000 each for the best programs submitted by March 3; some among those 50 will then go on to compete for greater prizes of $100,000 and $275,000.

Though this isn’t a huge sum for Google — we’re talking fewer than 15,000 shares of Google stock here — the prize is sure to spur at least a few clever comp-sci grads to drop everything and build Android’s first great app. The third-party apps will be crucial to the system’s success, because judging by the video of a couple of prototype phones that Google put out today (see above), Android, as it stands now, looks rather bland.