Jan 10

When Pop Culture and Economic Contrarianism meet the Social Sciences

The authors of the pop-culture books FREAKONOMICS and SUPERFREAKONOMICS (Steven D. Levitt and John A. List) state that “remarkable patterns” found in the data of the Hawthorne Experiment were proved to be “entirely fictional”.     From the paper’s abstract:

The “Hawthorne effect,” a concept familiar to all students of social science, has had a profound influence both on the direction and design of research over the past 75 years. The Hawthorne effect is named after a landmark set of studies conducted at the Hawthorne plant in the 1920s. The first and most influential of these studies is known as the “Illumination Experiment.” Both academics and popular writers commonly summarize the results as showing that every change in light, even those that made the room dimmer, had the effect of increasing productivity. The data from the illumination experiments, however, were never formally analyzed and were thought to have been destroyed. Our research has uncovered these data. We find that existing descriptions of supposedly remarkable data patterns prove to be entirely fictional. There are, however, hints of more subtle manifestations of a Hawthorne effect in the original data.

The “Hawthorne Effect ” was coined and based on observations at the GE Hawthorne plant in Cicero during the 1920s.   The observations of this research led to a move away from mechanistic management of employees and towards a Human-Relations approach, which rippled across the social sciences.

If you are eligible to get the paper (University, Government, etc.), you can find it here at the National Bureau of Economic Research [pdf].   Additional scholarly research can be found by searching Google Scholar.   Via Metafilter.

Dec 09

Daily Links for December 13th through December 14th

All excerpts are quoted from the respective link(s).

  • Top Ten blogs: Social Media Measurement « The Seldom Seen Kid – How we measure social media ROI is the hot topic in comunications at the minute. What metrics can we use, what new ideas can we develop, and my particular favouritedo we even need to measure ROI?

    I thought I’d collate this after reading and commenting on this post by Mike Litman got my brain swhirling.

    Here’s ten of my favourite posts discussing social media ROI, there’s some classics, and some newer pieces too:

  • Social Media ROI Superlist « Pivotal Branding – We’ve talked a lot lately about the ROI of social media and how we measure success. There are a variety of theories on the most effective way to assess social media ROI, and Interactive Insights Group has created one of the most comprehensive list of resources I have ever seen.
  • 16 social media guidelines used by real companies | Blog | Econsultancy – In a post I wrote called the A-Z of social media for brands I decided that P stands for Policy. I'm not one for too many rules and regulations, but it is a good idea to define some clear guidelines to help staff (especially novices) to do the right thing.

    So let’s take a look at some real world social media policies and guidelines as used by companies. Zappos does a great job of summing it up in seven words, but the detail is also important and there are some fine suggestions here…

  • Poll shows skepticism on gov social media efforts – General News – “It’s pretty clear that most SmartBrief on Social Media readers feel the White House hasn’t been able to fulfill its lofty goals of providing more transparency through technology,” says Chaney.Despite the negative results of the survey, Chaney does believe that the government is at least headed in the right direction. “I’m encouraged that, whether you agree with his politics or not, we have a president who sees the advantages of a collaborative, grassroots approach to government. Whether the government will become a ‘platform’ of, for, and by the people remains to be seen.”
  • Blogging Stats, Facts And Data: 2009 Blog Statistics By The Numbers – The annual state of the blogosphere report provided by Technorati always provides a ton of interesting information for bloggers, marketers and PR pros to use and reuse. My only issue with it is they make us read through pages upon pages of content to get at the good bits, and don’t provide a list of just the stats as a resource.

    Well fear not, I’ve gone through the entire report for you and pulled out just the stats that I found compelling. These are useful for presentations, blog posts or even Tweets and are good all year: remember, we don’t get another one until late 2010.

  • eyePlorer.com – Our approach is inspired by current research results from cognitive science, computational linguistics and neurobiology. We aim at radically improving the way users interact with knowledge and information online. Recent studies show that human thought processes have a strong visual component and that the brain can process images significantly faster than textual information. We are convinced that it is time for innovative, interactive, visual methods of working with and discovering facts and information instead of wading through ever longer lists of documents and search results.
  • MagCover’s Most Famous Magazine Covers! – Create your own magazine covers!
  • http://www.axiis.org/examples/BrowserMarketShare.html – An infographic detailing blogger share. You'll note the current result resembles the Firefox logo.

Dec 09

Daily Links for December 9th through December 10th

All excerpts are quoted from the respective link(s).

Dec 09

Daily Links for December 7th

All excerpts are quoted from the respective link(s).

  • The Major Works of Counterintuitive Thought From the Past Decade- The 00’s Issue– New York Magazine – In the aughts, the shocking hidden side of everything became the only side of anything worthy of magazine covers and book deals. Social scientists applied their techniques to the problem of climate change; liberals who wanted to be taken seriously had to come up with arguments for conservative policies and vice versa. Everywhere in the media, the former creators of mass consensus devoted themselves to contradicting the conventional wisdom. Here, a selection of the most unlikely ideas in a decade that was always looking to blow your mind.
  • Winners and Losers as the Dollar Falls – Experts argue about the many effects of the dollar's fall and what it says about confidence in the American economy, with its decades-old trade deficit and mounting national debt. But there are also more predictable effects replayed in each decline.
  • How Will You Die? – While you may be worried of catching of an obscure disease you heard about on the news, the truth is that we are far more likely to die of a small range of illnesses, nearly all of which are tied in some way to your lifestyle choices, like the food you eat or how much exercise you get. But you can lessen—sometimes dramatically—the likelihood of succumbing to the most common causes of death by knowing your risk factors and making informed choices. This is a look at your most likely cause of death (excluding uncontrollable events like accidents and homicide), given your race, sex, and age. Use this information to make choices that will keep you healthy.
  • The Biggest Lie In Social Media – Weather we want to believe it or not, investing in social media takes time, money, and resources. Companies and people need to have a means for evaluating their investment in social against other areas of focus. When the bean counters and CMOs are weighing their options, I can guarantee you an argument of “the numbers don’t matter” won’t hold water and will have you laughed out of the room.
  • Why Social Media Purists Won’t Last | Social Media Explorer – No, I’m not turning my back on the social media community or mindset. But I am trying to make a point all the social media evangelists out there need to grow up and face: If you don’t stop selling the fluff and start driving the bottom line, you’re going to have to go back to whatever you were doing in 2005. It’s not about convincing the curmudgeon. It’s not about waiting it out until digital natives are calling the shots. It’s about making social media drive business for your clients or companies. If you don’t, you’ll soon hear, “You’re fired,” and it won’t be from Apprentice reruns.
  • Three Tweets for the Web – Many critics of contemporary life want our culture to remain like a long-distance relationship at a time when most of us are growing into something more mature. We assemble culture for ourselves, creating and committing ourselves to a fascinating brocade. Very often the paper-and-ink book is less central to this new endeavor; it’s just another cultural bit we consume along with many others. But we are better off for this change, a change that is filling our daily lives with beauty, suspense, and learning.
  • Business Week Social Media Article Misses The Point – They frame it as if social media (which in reality is just one part of the digital marketing mix) is this new scary thing, and that companies and professionals are gullible enough to be usurped by snake oil types. At this point, the opposite is true: any marketer worth their salt understands digital marketing by now. At least enough not to be sold snake oil.

    Executing on the correct digital strategy can accomplish the same business objectives as strong traditional marketing/PR strategy. The web and the real are no different in my eyes: this article might as well have been called “Beware The Consultant Snake Oil,” sans-social media. What does the web have to do with it?

  • Continue reading →

Nov 09

Daily Links for November 23rd through November 25th

All excerpts are quoted from the respective link(s).

  • Social Media Analytics: Twitter: Quantitative & Qualitative Metrics | Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik – Analysis of these new social media channels has been hobbled by old world thinking, when it comes to marketing, from the world of Television and Magazines or, when it comes to measurement, from the world of traditional web analytics.

    These new channels, twitter and facebook and youtube and tumblr and, yes, even blogs, are very distinct customer / participant experiences. Stale marketing or measurement thinking applied to them results in terribly sub optimal results for all involved.

    So in this post my hope is to share with you what is unique about measuring one such channel, Twitter. The blog post is also sprinkled with my own words of folksy wisdom as to how you should use the channel for maximum impact.

  • The Blueprints, reference image database, with more than 37000 blueprints, templates, 3/4/5-views and drawings – The-Blueprints.com is a website dedicated to collecting 3/4/5-view drawings, templates and blueprints for as many objects as possible. Ranging from humans to tanks and cars to mobile phones, the goal is to provide reference material for 3D modelers, scale modelers, replica builders etc.
    Currently there are more than 37000 images in the collection, which makes this the largest free collection on the internet, and I try to update the site on a daily basis.
  • Social Psychology Links by Subtopic – Social psychology is the scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another. Listed below are links to social psychology topics such as prejudice and discrimination, gender, culture, social influence, interpersonal relations, group behavior, aggression, and more.
  • Atari Video Games | Arcade – Atari Arcade is the place to find beloved Atari classics including Asteroids and Lunar Lander. You can play them all here online, any time and free of charge. To start, simply choose your favorite game from the list and get ready to have some fun!
  • 30 Engaging Social Media Case Studies | EngagingSocialMedia.com – The best way to learn about how to make your social media campaigns ENGAGING is to see what has worked for others in the past. In this post I share over 30 case studies in social media that will give you a good look at what works and what does not. The case studies are group together by topic but topics are arranged in no particular order. Enjoy these case studies and if you have come across any good ones (or are working on creating one of your own) please share them in the comments below!