Germany's scientific texts were made free during and after WWII; analyzing them today shows the negative effect of paywalls on science

In 1942, the US Book Republication Program permitted American publishers to reprint "exact reproductions" of Germany's scientific texts without payment; seventy-five years later, the fate of this scientific knowledge forms the basis of a "natural experiment" analysed by Barbara Biasi and Petra Moser for The Center for Economic and Policy Research, who compare the fate of these texts to their contemporaries who didn't have this semi-public-domain existence. Read the rest

Facebook is worth much less to its users than search and email, but it keeps a larger share of the value

Economists Erik Brynjolfsson, Felix Eggers and Avinash Gannamaneni have published an NBER paper (Sci-Hub mirror) detailing an experiment where they offered Americans varying sums to give up Facebook, and then used a less-rigorous means to estimate much much Americans valued other kinds of online services: maps, webmail, search, etc. Read the rest

A collaborative bibliography of "economic science fiction"

The Econ-SF wiki is a new, annotated collaborative bibliography of science fiction that delves into economic topics -- remember that Paul Krugman was inspired to get into economics after reading Asimov's "Foundation" novels, to say nothing of all the people whose brains were colonized by Atlas Shrugged. It's brand new and has some notable omissions, and could use your contributions. Read the rest

Chinese law professor: AI will end capitalism

Feng Xiang is a prominent Chinese legal scholar with an appointment at Tsinghua University; in a new Washington Post editorial adapted from his recent speech at the Berggruen Institute’s China Center workshop on artificial intelligence in Beijing, he argues that capitalism is incompatible with AI. Read the rest

George Mason economics department admits it sold hiring control to anonymous, super-rich donors

Universities -- especially public universities -- are never, ever supposed to cede their academic independence to their donors, who might otherwise use their departments as glorified think-tanks, laundering their ideology and giving it the veneer of objective, scholarly credibility. Read the rest

Forced prison labor put downward pressure on wages at American companies, worsening inequality

In Economic Consequences of the U.S. Convict Labor System, UCLA economist Michael Poyker uses data on prisons and their surrounding areas from 1850 to 1950 to examine the role that free/extremely low-waged forced convict labor had on wages. Read the rest

The Peltzman model: a way to understand the kind of regulation Facebook might face from Congress

Sam Peltzman proposed a model of regulation where the profitability of firms is in tension with their customers' desire for low prices and politicians' desire to get votes. Read the rest

Public goods are REALLY good: thousands of years later, the Roman roads are still paying dividends

Social scientists often promote the value of public provision of infrastructure as a sound, long-term investment in development and prosperity, pushing back against the neoliberal tendency to abandon public goods in favor of private development. Read the rest

Easter Island musical stone went from priceless to worthless

Pu o Hiro is a roadside rock in the Easter Islands, but at one time its value was so great that factions fought over its possession. The rock's natural holes allowed it to be played like an instrument. Rare Earth uses it as a starting point for discussing consensus value. Read the rest

Thinking in Bets: a poker-master's Jedi mind-trick for being less wrong

Annie Duke dropped out of a PhD in cognitive psychology to become a professional poker player; now she runs a nonprofit devoted to improving decision quality by merging the practical cognitive tools of the world's greatest poker players with the leading edge of cognitive psychology, a method she describes in an excellent and charming new book called Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts.

How to be better at being pissed off at Big Tech

My latest Locus column, "Let’s Get Better at Demanding Better from Tech," looks at how science fiction can make us better critics of technology by imagining how tech could be used in difference social and economic contexts than the one we live in today. Read the rest

The first-ever rigorous quantitative study of US artistic revenue from internet indies: 14.8M Americans earned $5.9B in 2016

The Re:Create coalition has just published Unlocking the Gates: America's New Creative Economy, a quantitative report that uses rigorous statistical methods to derive the total income, by state, earned by creators who use the internet to reach their audiences. Read the rest

Charles Stross's "Dark State": transdimensional, nuclear-tipped mutually assured destruction by way of a first-rate spy novel

Dark State is the sequel to Empire Games, a reboot/latter phase of Charles Stross's longrunning, excellent economic science fiction/high fantasy Merchant Princes series.

Three national corporations control nearly all of San Francisco's live music

Jamie Zawinski (previously), who owns San Francisco's amazing DNA Lounge venue, does a postmortem on the announcements from Slim's and the Great American Music Hall that they have "partnered" with Golden Voice, a division of Anschutz Entertainment Group, a $8 billion company that is the world's largest owner of sports teams and events; owns Coachella and ten other large festivals, and is in turned owned by a Fundamentalist, homophobic, climate change denier. Read the rest

An interesting way in which money is totally broken

Calculating inflation, earning power, social progress, equality and inequality -- they all depend on being able to compare what used to be happening in our economy to what's happening now, and the way we do that is with money. Read the rest

After industry adopts open video standards, MPEG founder says the end is nigh

Leonardo Chiariglione is founder and chairman of the International Standards Organization's Motion Picture Expert Group (MPEG), whose standards have dominated video playback since the earliest days; MPEG's primary rival is the Alliance for Open Media, an ascendant open standards body that requires that members promise not to enforce patents that overlap with its standards, meaning that anyone can play back AOM video without paying rent to MPEG members. Read the rest

The Financial Times's 404 page is an ingenious, hilarious introduction to major concepts in economic theory

If you hit a dead link on the Financial Times' website, you get a 404 page that offers a series of funny possible explanations for the page's nonexistence, each corresponding to a different economic theory (like "monetarism," the "efficient markets hypothesis" and "trickle-down"), and many are linked to articles from the FT's archives that delve into the concept. Read the rest

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