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Dmitry Orlov, “Social Collapse Best Practices” (MP3 audio), Longnow Foundation, 2009/02/19 October 21, 2009

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What happens to live after a society collapses?  We can learn from history in the former Soviet Union.

With vintage Russian black humor, Orlov described the social collapse he witnessed in Russia in the 1990s and spelled out its practical lessons for the American social collapse he sees as inevitable. The American economy in the 1990s described itself as “Goldilocks”—just the right size—when in fact is was “Tinkerbelle,” and one day the clapping stops. As in Russia, the US made itself vulnerable to the decline of crude oil, a trade deficit, military over-reach, and financial over-reach.

Russians were able to muddle through the collapse by finding ways to manage 1) food, 2) shelter, 3) transportation, and 4) security.

Russian agriculture had long been ruined by collectivization, so people had developed personal kitchen gardens, accessible by public transit. The state felt a time-honored obligation to provide bread, and no one starved. (Orlov noted that women in Russia handled collapse pragmatically, putting on their garden gloves, whereas middle-aged men dissolved into lonely drunks.) Americans are good at gardening and could shift easily to raising their own food, perhaps adopting the Cuban practice of gardens in parking lots and on roofs and balconies.

Dmitri Orlov: Social Collapse Best Practices – The Long Now

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Jonathan Rauch, “The Volt, Risk, and Corporate Culture” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2008/09/01 October 21, 2009

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General Motors had the technology for an electric car.  When it stopped working on that technology, it unfortunately stopped work on hybrid technology as well.

Jonathan Rauch, of the Brookings Institution and the Atlantic Monthly, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the evolution of the Chevy Volt, GM’s planned electric car. Due to the transparency of GM’s effort, Rauch was able to spend a great deal of time on site at GM writing a piece for the Atlantic Monthly on GM’s plans and hopes. Rauch discusses the huge risks, GM’s past failures, and GM’s hopes that the Volt might change the company’s culture. The conversation closes with a discussion of competitors and the implications for energy policy.

Rauch on the Volt, Risk, and Corporate Culture | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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Hal Varian, “On Technology” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2008/07/28 October 21, 2009

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In my university days, one of my textbooks was written by Hal Varian.  An economist crossing over from academia to industry is an interesting case.

Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist and University of California at Berkeley professor, talks with Russ Roberts about Google, the role of technology in our everyday lives, the unintended paths of innovation, and the value of economics.

Varian on Technology | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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Saul Griffith, “Climate Change Recalculated” (MP3 audio), Longnow Foundation, 2009/01/16 October 21, 2009

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Part of sustainability is conservation, but we can maintain even a minimal level of modern conveniences through conservation?

… the land area dedicated to renewable energy (”Renewistan”) would occupy a space about the size of Australia to keep the carbon dioxide level at 450 ppm. To get to Hanson’s goal of 350 ppm of carbon dioxide, fossil fuel burning would have to be cut to ZERO, which means another 3 terawatts would have to come from renewables, expanding the size of Renewistan further by 26 percent.

Meanwhile for individuals, to stay at the world’s energy budget at 16 terawatts, while many of the poorest in the world might raise their standard of living to 2,200 watts, everyone now above that level would have to drop down to it. Griffith determined that most of his energy use was coming from air travel, car travel, and the embodied energy of his stuff, along with his diet. Now he drives the speed limit (and he has passed no one in six months), seldom flies, eats meat only once a week, bikes a lot, and buys almost nothing. He’s healthier, eats better, has more time with his family, and the stuff he has he cherishes.

Saul Griffith: Climate Change Recalculated – The Long Now

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Robin Hanson, “Signalling” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2008/05/26 October 4, 2009

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Human beings send signals with our consumer behaviour.

Robin Hanson of George Mason University talks about the phenomenon of signalling–the ways people spend resources to convey information about ourselves to others.

It begins with Hanson revisiting his theory from an earlier podcast that we spend too much on medicine because we need to signal our concern for friends and family. The conversation then moves onto apply Hanson’s model of signalling to other areas of human behavior.

This is a wide-ranging discussion covering not just medicine, but real estate transactions, the wooing of a spouse, the role of education in the job market, parenting, the economics of self-deception, and Robin’s argument that we spend too much time on admirable activities.

Hanson on Signalling | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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Chris Anderson, “Free” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2008/05/12 October 4, 2009

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Economics tends to think about price on a continuous line or curve, but the jump from “not free” to “free” means that business models have to change.

Chris Anderson talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his next book project based on the idea that many delightful things in the world are increasingly free–internet-based email with infinite storage, on-line encyclopedias and even podcasts, to name just a few.

Why is this trend happening? Is it restricted to the internet? Is there really any such thing as a free lunch? Is free a penny cheaper than a penny or a lot cheaper than that?

The conversation also covers whether economics has anything to say about free.

Chris Anderson on Free | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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John Nye, “Wine, War and Trade” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2008/05/05 October 4, 2009

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The idea of pure competitive trade is a myth.

John Nye of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his book, War, Wine, and Taxes.

The conversation covers the history of Britain and France’s trade policy, why the British drink beer and why Ricardo’s example of Britain trading wool for Portuguese wine is bizarre.

Nye turns the traditional story on its head–he argues that France was more of a free trader than Britain and that the repeal of the Corn Laws was not the dividing line between Britain’s protectionist past and free trade future.

At the end of the discussion, Nye emphasizes the importance of domestic free trade for economic growth.

Nye on Wine, War and Trade | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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Bill Burger, “Copyright in a New Light” (MP3 audio), O’Reilly Media Tools of Change Conference, 2008/02/11 October 4, 2009

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Information technologies have changed the way that words are reproduced and distributed.

The increasing pace of technology and business innovation has resulted in a proliferation of content in a variety of new forms such as Wikipedia, Wikitravel, Encyclopedia of Life, Newser, and many more. Participation and collaboration are the values of a new creative class, one Samuel Johnson, writing only when paid to write something, would never have understood. Bill Burger describes the clash of cultures between these new models and the traditional world of publishing and the resultant suing by fearful authors and publishers.

He outlines the historical context of what has happened in publishing from the days of monks copying texts when one copy was more valuable than the content, on through the invention of the printing press, the Industrial Revolution and the technology revolution. Burger lays out the truth of what people value today in terms of content and its distribution and what the publishing industry needs to do in order to stay relevant.

IT Conversations | O’Reilly Media Tools of Change Conference | Bill Burger (Free Podcast)

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William Bernstein, “The History of Trade” (MP3 audio), Econtalk, 2008/04/28 October 4, 2009

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Trade goes back to the dawn of man.

Drawing on the insights from his recent book, A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, Bernstein talks about the magic of spices, how trade in sugar explain why Jews ended up in Manhattan, the real political economy of the Boston Tea Party and the demise of the Corn Laws in England.

The discussion closes with the political economy of trade today and the interaction between trade and income inequality.

Bernstein on the History of Trade | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty

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Michael Pollan, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Searching for the Perfect Meal in a Fast-Food World” (MP3 audio), Colorado College, 2007/02/12 October 4, 2009

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We don’t often think about the impact — both positive and negative — of the industrialization of agriculture.

All creatures are defined ecologically by how they fit into a food chain. For humans, food industrialization has obscured this once-plain fact; most Americans are only dimly aware that their food represents their most profound engagement with the natural world.

Michael Pollan, author of “The Botany of Desire” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” both New York Times best sellers, conducted a series of personal explorations of the food chain: growing a genetically modified potato, tracing an organic TV dinner from grocery freezer to farm and buying and following a steer from insemination to steak.

Pollan will tell these stories to tease out conclusions about what’s gone wrong with the industrial food system and its implications for our health. He’ll also explore healthier alternatives to industrial food.

Colorado College | Multimedia Materials for Selected Events

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Karl Ryser, Jr., “All Media Guide” (MP3 audio), AfterTv, 2007/01/31 October 4, 2009

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While traditional mass media production has been challenged by the emergence of digital content, the information about media provides new opportunities for business.

There are few companies better positioned to understand the online media ecosystem as All Media Guide (AMG). This is the company that provides the professionally created content about media for many leading websites including iTunes, Yahoo,Sony PS3, Amazon and AOL.

Music fans know AMG through their incomparable All Music Guide, movie buffs rely on All Movie Guide and gamers are becoming familiar with All Game Guide.

AMG’s CEO is Karl Ryser Jr and he has some provocative ideas on the value of professional content, the real significance of the Long Tail and the future of the music business.

Archive AfterTV: Karl Ryser Jr

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Jeff Howe, “Crowdsourcing” (MP3 audio), Principled Innovation Podcast, 2008/09/22 October 4, 2009

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The web has opened up new ways of collaboration, in democratization of production.

Jeff Howe’s groundbreaking article on “crowdsourcing” appeared in Wired Magazine and the rest, as they say, is history. Some two years (and a blog on the topic) later, Jeff has published a book about the phenomenon that he named. [….]

Jeff’s book, Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving The Future of Business, is a superb journalistic exploration of the evolution of crowdsourcing, its current state and its likely future. The book includes the stories of many crowdsourcing exemplars, including InnoCentive, Threadless.com and Wikipedia. For association leaders, perhaps the most meaningful and compelling example of crowdsourcing discussed in the book, the video and in our podcast is iStockphoto.com, a global community of content creators that has irrevocably changed the stock photography business.

Crowdsourcing is a powerful democratizing force that is re-shaping the way organizations co-create value with customers. With association leaders seeking to design new opportunities for deeper member engagement as part of on-going business model innovation, this book is certain to be an invaluable learning resource going forward.

Principled Innovation LLC » P.I. Podcast: Interview with Jeff Howe

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