Category Archives: Institutional

The ‘familiar but better’ button

John Gruber talks about a difference between Google and Apple’s approaches to selling hardware: Google Glass absolutely is generating buzz, but it’s not “the sort of buzz usually reserved for Apple products”. Glass has nerds excited; Apple products get the general public excited, and often annoy nerds by being iterative improvements that press the “familiar […]

The screwdriver

I think about Witold Rybczynski’s book One Good Turn (which is a history of the screwdriver and the screw) more than is healthy for a person. Discussing his possible candidates for ‘tool of the millenium,’ Rybcyynski contemplates the power saw: “Does one of my carpenter’s tools qualify as the millennium’s best? I discount power tools. […]

Incrementalism, exploration, exploitation

A friend/colleague/friend tweeted this from an IBM ‘innovation discovery client briefing’, from IBM research in Switzerland: “Incrementalism is the enemy of innovation.” -Nick Negraponte Which, ok, part of Negraponte’s gig is to go to things like an IBM innovation discovery client briefing. Sounds nice. But the other part of this is the actual assertion. Is […]

Supreme Court rules for Wal-Mart

The case, to consolidate and ratify a class of women who claimed discrimination at the hands of Wal-Mart, was rejected by the Supreme Court today. I’ve nothing much to say about the case or the role of sociologists that has become something of a flashpoint this summer. I would, however, suggest that we are living […]

Lateral thinking and business intelligence, pt. 1

If you have a couple of hours to spare, there are far worse things you can do than to watch the 10-part D&D extravaganza, Acquisitions Incorporated (pt one is here. First, it will raise your nerd cred so high you won’t ever be forgiven by your spouse/students/friends who ever thought that maybe, just maybe, you […]

Comparables, value, housing

Interesting article from the Washington Post (although the fact that it was written by an attorney and a history professor on the opinion pages make me wonder how they know what the decision-making process was behind the scenes). The crux of the story is that a couple had trouble purchasing a round house, because the […]

just words – Iranian election

Interesting to note that once you claim to be holding an ‘election’, or that your country is a ‘democracy’, it makes it possible to put you on the hook for things you wouldn’t normally want to be on the hook for. So, Iran is now making ‘reluctant concessions’ with regard to the farce of election […]

Something New – Markets and Art

As an experiment in sociology and blogging, Jenn (from and I have put together a brief video on culture and markets, the beginning of what we hope will be a conversation at the intersection of culture, sociology, and economics. We’ll work on the lighting and switch off the big-head/small-head, but we hope you like […]

Unhelpful institutional theory, real world

Let’s say that the CEO of an organization publicly announces during a board meeting that if the org misses its (ambitious) numbers over the coming year, she will eliminate X employees. We know that often, public announcements of impossible goals get met not by actually meeting those goals, but by shifting the goalposts down the […]

Setting a Meeting, Academia-style

Having trouble finding a common time to set a meeting? Problem solved! Pass this handy-dandy sheet along to all the member of the committee, and let the matchy-matchy begin! I guarantee that, unless someone is out of town, you will be able to nail down a time within an absolute maximum two-week window. Make-a-meeting