Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work

by Matthew B. Crawford

This book is primarily about restoring honor to the manual trades. Crawford writes about the “rich cognitive challenges and psychic nourishment” that come with “the experience of making things and fixing things.”

It makes sense to start with some context about the author’s career path. “I started working as an electrician’s helper shortly before I turned fourteen… When I couldn’t get a job with my college degree in physics, I was glad to have something to fall back on, and went into business for myself.” Later, Crawford went back to school and earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy. He took a job as executive director of a think tank, but he found the work dispiriting. “Despite the beautiful ties I wore, it turned out to be a more proletarian existence than I had known as a manual worker.” After only five months, he quit and opened a motorcycle repair shop. “Perhaps most surprising, I often find manual work more engaging intellectually.” Continue reading “Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work”

Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs of People

Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs of People

by Henry Carroll

“Don’t take pictures of people. Take pictures about people.”

Carroll explains the rules of thumb for a traditional portrait, but the book is mainly about moving beyond that.  “Don’t suppress your subject’s physical nuances. This is what makes them who they are. There are rules in portraiture about how your subjects should stand, what they should do with their hands, and so on. These rules are fine for corporate headshots, because they’re designed to remove any trace of a person’s individuality. But that’s not what we’re about, right?”  Continue reading “Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs of People”

Federal Plain Language Guidelines

Federal Plain Language Guidelines

Although oriented towards helping U.S. government employees write clear regulations, the Federal Plain Language Guidelines offers great advice for any nonfiction writer. It includes a section on writing content for web sites.

Here are some highlights.

Address one person, not a group. Remember that even though your document may affect a thousand or a million people, you are speaking to the one person who is reading it. When your writing reflects this… [it] has a greater impact.”

Continue reading “Federal Plain Language Guidelines”

BadMen: How Advertising Went From a Minor Inconvenience to a Major Menace

BadMen: How Advertising Went From a Minor Inconvenience to a Major Menace

by Bob Hoffman

In this concise, informative, hilariously irreverent, and brutally honest book, former advertising agency CEO Bob Hoffman explains why ad tech is bad for advertisers, publishers, and consumers. He also calls on advertisers to stop enabling this menace.

“Surveillance marketing is powered largely by advertisers through the tracking of our movements on the web. This is called ‘ad tech.’”

Continue reading “BadMen: How Advertising Went From a Minor Inconvenience to a Major Menace”

The Halo Effect and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers

The Halo Effect and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers

by Phil Rosenzweig

Many business books and articles have been written about what Phil Rosenzweig calls “the mother of all business questions… What leads to high performance?” This book explains why much of this analysis is “riddled with errors.”

Using the examples of Cisco, ABB, and others, the author demonstrates the phenomenon. When times were good—strong revenue growth and a soaring stock price—these companies were praised for their exemplary strategy, culture, and CEO. When financial performance fell, the same strategy, culture, and CEO were ripped apart as severely flawed.

Why does this happen? Because we love stories. “As long as Cisco was growing and profitable and setting records for its share price, managers and journalists and professors inferred that it had a wonderful ability to listen to its customers, a cohesive culture, and a brilliant strategy. And when the bubble burst, observers were quick to make the opposite attribution. It all made sense. It told a coherent story.”

“Yet there’s a bit more to it. Our desire to tell stories, to provide a coherent direction to events, may also cause us to see trends that do not exist or infer causes incorrectly. We may ignore facts because they don’t fit into our story.”

How does this happen? Introducing the Halo Effect.  Continue reading “The Halo Effect and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers”

Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities

Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities

by George L. Kelling and Catherine M. Coles

The origin of broken windows theory was an article in the March 1982 edition of The Atlantic by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson about the link between disorder and serious crime. The term comes from an analogy: “Social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. This is as true in nice neighborhoods as in rundown ones… One unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares.” Continue reading “Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities”

Using Systems Thinking to Solve Real-World Problems

Using Systems Thinking to Solve Real-World Problems

by Jamie P. Monat and Thomas F. Gannon

“Systems thinking focuses on the relationships among system components and the interactions of the system with its environment, as opposed to focusing on the components themselves… Those relationships typically dominate the behavior of systems.” As an antidote to myopia, systems thinking takes a holistic and integrative approach.

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