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Positive Linking: How Networks Can Revolutionise the World Paperback – 5 Jul 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (5 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571279201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571279203
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.7 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

Positive Linking: How Networks Can Revolutionise the World is Paul Ormerod's groundbreaking and accessible work of economics, linking nudge and network theory for the first time.

About the Author

Paul Ormerod is the author of The Death of Economics, Butterfly Economics and Why Most Things Fail. He studied economics at Cambridge and his career has spanned the academic and practical business worlds, including working at the Economist and as a director of the Henley Centre for Forecasting. He is a Fellow of the British Academy of Social Science and has been awarded a DSchonoris causafor his contribution to economics by the University of Durham.

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This is a book which shines a robust, academic yet accessible spotlight on a force that has been at work in human affairs for millenia, but which is still only barely understood - networks. A reader of this review, or indeed of the blurb for the book itself, may scoff at such statements as amounting to little more than repeating what should be blindingly obvious to any educated reader. Unfortunately, in scoffing, such people may be exposing their own ignorance of the effects of networks, which are real and ever present, and their potential benefits for better, but not perfect, policy development and implementation. Ormerod grounds his thesis in what he identifies as a key flaw of economic thinking as it has evolved over the last century or so - that there is an optimum model of human behaviour, and therefore for policy development, which can be developed by those in a position of authority and thereafter implemented. He makes a very convincing case that such a viewpoint simply does not acknowledge the reality of life as lived by people. He clearly has little time for the underpinnings of modern economic thinking, arguing that it needs to embrace a more holistic view of society. He is careful to point out that he is not arguing for no government, but for more thoughtful government, predicated on a greater sense of distributed leadership throughout society. He is also very honest in describing how the literature on network effects is still very much in its infancy, and that much more research and learning is required. He hints that some of the deeper mysteries of network effects may never be discovered, due largely to the paradox of human nature, which is so universal and yet so unique to each individual. When you add to the equation the complex dynamics of human relationships, it highlights the achievement of the author in making such a complex, challenging and even provocative topic so accessible and so fascinating. Can't wait to read more!
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4 of 14 people found the following review helpful By PK on 8 July 2012
Format: Paperback
"Positive Linking" Dare to peek into the wonderful world of thinking by a member of the inteligentsia. Entertaining and understandable in places even for the likes of myself! I indulged in a chuckle or two as the author describes the division in his household on the famous love it or hate it...Marmite brigade. Even more entertaining as he describes at what price he could be persuaded to eat it! Not a surprise. Though as you would expect it was used as an example of... well read it for yourself!

This Brightly coloured book would not look out of place at the side of Ted Benton's book on Bumble Bees, if, you are fortunate enough to have a copy. Pop "Bumblebees" & "Positive Linking" on your coffee table and dress to impress. The two go well together
.Collins New Naturalist Library (98) - Bumblebees
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A rescue plan for economic policymaking 13 Dec. 2012
By Peter Hulm - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For my money Paul Ormerod is the best post-Keynesian economist writing in the U.K. today. He's a pioneer of new economic theory, challenging the fundamental orthodoxes of his field. For over 20 years he has been a specialist enthused about applying to economics the lessons we can learn from other sciences. especially biology, network theory and behavioral studies.

His latest book takes on preference theory. the assumption of rational choice, and the built-in, misleading presumption that individuals make their economic decisions in isolation from each other.

That's not the way we act in real life, and you may not find the counter-argument surprising: the choices we make are directly and indirectly affected by other people in the absence of perfect information. In our age of instant communication this can put economic policy seriously out of whack. The Lehman Brothers collapse was so dangerous because none of the safeguards in place or economic policy advisers had considered the network effect.

But Ormerod is not just knocking down old statues. His book sets out to show us how understanding network processes in economics can overcome the current challenges and lead to more effective policymaking.

As always, his writing is a model of clarity. He asks you to look at the economic theory behind the martyrdom of Protestant reformers in 1555 and English soccer riots in Sardinia in 1990, as well as the strange appeal of Marmite to a section of the British population to argue: "We need a new theory of rational behaviour." You can find that theory in this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Rational Man Becomes Networked Man 25 Feb. 2013
By R. Blanchard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is nicely written and edited, clear, not always concise but very interesting. It assembles and analyses the best of current thinking on the subject of why the idea of the Rational Economic Man operating in a free-market, equilibrium economy is no longer an adequate framework for understanding the global economy in the 21st century. Rational man is actually Networked Man who's social and especially economic decisions are only partially explained by careful calculation of self-interest. Traditional incentives used by marketeers and governments developing public policy (prices, taxes, etc.) often yield unpredictable results and widespread unintended consequences. Ormerod thinks we can do better by understanding and taking advantage of social linkages and the effects of behavioral "copying" between and among groups and individuals in various networked relationships. This new model is not yet broadly accepted by economists because there are still many unknowns but Ormerod argues persuasively that it will be and the sooner the better. An excellent read for anyone interested in economics or public policy.
I am He as you are Me and We are All Together. 9 Jan. 2015
By Junglies - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a multi-layered book which deserves being read by as many economists as possible as well as the general public.

The great thing about Paul Ormerod's books is that they are written in plain English yet convey complex ideas, the mark of a great teacher.

The author has written much in his previous books which many will find interesting if only to see how complex ideas have effects which can be seen in everyday life. Continuing in this tradition, Positive Linking is a beautifully clear book about the concept of network economics but taking the lead from the title, also has cascade effects on other disciplines.

For those outside of the narrow confines of economics professionals who deal with highly mathematical models and are frequently abstruse, economics can be often seen as contradictory and divorced from reality. Having to live with the effects of change wrought by politicians with their policy making employees and advisers, individuals in the main live with prices and quantities all the time and making decisions about what they want and what they can afford. People who have lost their homes in foreclosure wonder why it is that the banks who caused the recession can be bailed out but those who lost their jobs when the businesses closed and subsequently lost their homes cannot?

The answers to these and other questions are not the subject of intellectual enquiry by practicing high priests of economics for a number of reasons. The practitioners of the dark arts work in very formal mathematical realities not the day to day experience that the rest of us have. That is not to say that those who live in cities of dreaming spires are full divorced from the everyday existence of life. Around the world a movement is growing which intends to smash these models and broaden the limits of economic "science" to make them more realistic.

However, I slightly digress.

But first, a mini-history.

Political Economy was the province of a small number of educated men who formed part of the elites of society. They wrote at times where the milieu of people were often visitors to the homes of others like themselves or the homes of politicians and civil servants. I have often speculated on the possibility of Adam Smith, whilst at Oxford University, journeying to Banbury and staying at the house in Wroxton belonging to the North family whose members included Dudley North, an early monetarist, and Lord North, the last Prime Minister of America.

As population and technology grew so did the number of political economists and after the so-called Marginal Revolution, they were gradually replaced by economists and particularly so after the second world war.

Paul Ormerod helps make the transition to the modern day where population and technology have proceeded apace and the creation of the internet and what is now known as social media have changed the world in some ways beyond recognition. In effect what he is saying is that there and fundamental changes to how people interact with each other which cannot be configured into the current way that economists construct their models.

Take advertising for instance. Never fitted into the current model easily if at all but it exists. Yes it is a cost of production and yes it can be measure to some degree but how can you tell if the message is real or not and how can you determine the value of the benefits that the ads claim. In the old days you could look at consumer magazines for comparison shopping of major consumer items, you could talk among friends or you could go to the stores and ask questions. Today there is a wealth, some say too muc, information about products and prices. You are reading one now!

The basic principles of economics still apply, mostly, But the world, in adapting to new technology and expanding the range of products especially those of communications, has brought about fundamental changes in our economics which the models have not even recognized.

Two writers, Nicolas Tassim Taleb and Paul Ormerod, have done more than most to bring the new ideas to light and to illuminate the analytic and explanatory power, I would say their predictive power too but I place no faith in the power of economists like meteorologists to predict anything despite their huge computing power.

Positive Linking is such a book not just in pointing to the implications of network economics and the weakness of the prevailing mindset but to expand the application to other areas of study into aspects of society and politics but also philosophy. His further reading list is excellent and helps to heighten the stimulating nature of the book.

It is a great book very enjoyable, thought provoking but a delight to read and engage with. You don't find too many like this around, more's the pity.
The world is not normal 3 April 2014
By ComplexEast - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
and what he thinks by that is: not Gaussian ;-)
A nice book, defending quite directly relevance of networks in microeconomics. The main contribution is his good interpretation of the rather abstract mathematical concepts such as stochastic multiplicative processes, networks, or self-enforcing loops into very readable economic jargon, very clearly focused on possible applications, and illustrated with clear and well chosen examples.
Not overly original 17 Aug. 2013
By SterlingPhil - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
But it's a good place to start Economics 101 before one falls under the spell of the mathematical formula "wizards". Great documentation backs up the author's premises. He's incredibly well-read in literature spanning a multitude of disciplines. I would highly recommend this as a starting place for people trying to figure out what "economics" is all about.
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