mostly nonfiction listener
I think that Taleb is probably an S.O.B. and a nut....but his argument that the world (and our lives) is in reality ruled by unpredictable large-scale events (black swans) is intriguing and forcefully argued. Taleb's background is in quantitative trading...and while arrogant beyond belief his arguments seem hard to dismiss.
A book that everyone working in the educational technology industry should read. Where does your companies products or services fall along the fidelity (quality) and convenience spectrum? Four-year residential colleges are a high fidelity / high cost experience - with bundled learning, living, and socializing. University of Phoenix aims to be a high convenience provider.
Maney argues that companies need to choose to specialize in fidelity or convenience, or they will fall into the "fidelity belly" where their products and services are neither loved or required. Expensive products or services (high fidelity) need to be ten times as good as convenient (cheap or free) services to survive. Newspapers gutted themselves by laying off reporters and closing branches, therefore diminishing their fidelity. We all need to make hard choices and trade-offs, and figure out where the product/service we deliver meets the demands for fidelity or convenience.
Are you fascinated by how people manage to earn a living? Does an economy built on services, where none of us seems to do much of anything besides go to meetings and e-mail each other, completely confuse you? How is it that we manage to buy houses and cars and computers if we don't really make anything?
For answers to these questions, and more, the best place to visit is Britain. Why? Because England has gone further down the road of creating a services based economy than the U.S., Germany, Japan or other wealth countries. The birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the workshop of the world, is the poster child of the service economy of tomorrow.
I really liked Made in Britain. I'm hoping that Evan Davis franchises the book. A "Made in France" and a "Made in South Korea" and a "Made in the USA". The book grew out of Davis' BBC production of the same name. You can find the episode online, but apparently the BBC does not let North American's view their online video. (Can anyone help?)
The British economy is strong in areas of finance, pharmaceuticals, marketing / design, defense and higher education. Problems exist, such as persistent underinvestment in research and development, too little savings, and too much borrowing. Housing continues to absorb too many investment dollars. The finance sector is probably too large. The U.S. can learn much from Britain's economic strengths and weaknesses, and Made in Britain is a great place to start.
Yunus' theory bridges the gap between old capitalism, based on 19th century view of man as a rational profit making machine, to what science now knows about how we really work and about the damages of the old approach.
Yunus offers a real hope to establish a different type of economy with better fulfillment and joy to all, without getting carried to socialistic dreams, but rather in a very practical way.
Many questions still remain open, but this is the beginning of the road.