Britain Needs Techno Dynamists

In an excellent column for CityAM today, Stian Westlake makes the argument that optimists need to run the economy in order to foster economic growth. This is an argument that I have been making for years and in various forms. It is the same argument that the prescient Virginia Postrel made in her 1998 book The Future and its Enemies. Optimists and risk takers, often one is the same, are the future of business, technology, industry, education and everything in between. Let’s take a quick look at why this is so. Continue reading “Britain Needs Techno Dynamists”

Risk Taking and Risk Takers

Months go by in between posts and still I feel that there is more that can be done to update the design or change the user interface.  That being said, my time has been taken up by other things.  And among those are pitches for private sector contract work and freelance work.

It occurred to me recently that I haven’t held a full time, permanent job since I left the US late in 2005.  That is a long time ago, but I have had some good and some bad experiences freelancing.  Perhaps I am more of a risk taker than those who I used to work with and are still at {insert company name here} where I used to work.

Continue reading “Risk Taking and Risk Takers”

Various posts

I have had a few post over the last few days.  If you are so inclined to reading them, I have written about the amazing number of bans and regulation that San Francisco has here and I have discussed how a group of local developers have created an open source, free website for council information here.

This isn’t all that exciting, but I promise that there will be more soon.

Richard and Cass are back

The FT reports that a new ‘nudge unit’ has been created inside of Downing Street.  Unsurprisingly, Steve Hilton is a ‘co-chair’.  Steve is the man responsible for, among other things, a lack of user testing on the ‘big society’ concept that ultimately lead to an indecisive Tory victory.  But no matter now that he is in Downing Street.  He is back waving the favourite book of both the Obama administration and the Coalition Government – Nudge by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler.

The basic premise of the book, in case you have been hiding under a rock during both the presidential and UK government elections, is that people or society can be nudged into behaviour that is beneficial to the common good.  This is nothing new as marketing folks have been using the basic concept for ages.  Products in stores that are in need of shifting, for example, take a more visible and prominent position than other ones which may be placed higher up or lower down or in the back of the store.  Capitalist approaches to nudging does not bother me one bit, but when the government gets involved, I do start to panic that yet again the government is overstepping its bounds.  What is most insulting and completely arrogant is the very fact that the government assumes that they know best and that people or society can’t take care of themselves.  How truly shocking for a Coalition Government who are promoting their ideas of local activism and the big society.  Quite contradictory it seems to me.