Briefing No. 3
WHAT WE'RE READING
On the Greenwood Place bedside table
We took quite a stack of books on holiday this Summer.
Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography was a great read and a reminder of the salience of geography in international affairs. Ideologies come and go but geography remains….
We also thoroughly enjoyed Progress by Johan Norberg. If- like most of us - you are predisposed to assume that things are worse than they used to be, this book unleashes wave after wave of evidence to the contrary. The main reason why things tend to get better is that knowledge is cumulative and easily shared and as Norberg puts it, “The most important resource is the human brain...which is pleasantly reproducible.”
AND WHAT WE'VE BEEN WATCHING
We were gripped and deeply moved by Ava DuVernay’s film '13th', a piercing documentation of mass incarceration in today’s America, which contains 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prisoners.
Although we haven’t quite got around to setting up a Greenwood Place film club yet, it’s definitely on our list. Check out Influence Film Club for recommendations of great, thought-provoking documentaries as well as articles and other read-arounds that provide context.
ELEPHANTS AND OTHER EXTRAORDINARY ANIMALS
We were amazed by acoustic biologist Katy Payne’s story of how she discovered the layers of infrasonic communication between elephants and what she has learned from more than 30 years of listening to animals.
It was fascinating to learn how emotional elephants are. Payne says that the excitement when a group of elephants that has been separated for a few hours come back together is "the most marvellous show of total New Year’s Eve, family-reunion excitement". Listen here
Oliver Uberti’s article documenting GPS tracking of elephant travels, and how conservationists are using data to help to reduce human-animal conflict was an interesting complement to the podcast.
ENSEMBLES NOT SOLOISTS
We’re involved in a couple of collaborative ventures here at Greenwood Place. In both cases, informal teams have formed for practical reasons - no single party has all the answers (when exactly does one party have all the answers in any event?) or all the resources needed to reach a successful outcome. So we were very pleased to come across Jeffrey Walker’s piece about collaboration in philanthropy - why it makes sense, when it makes sense and, more importantly, what you can do to maximise its chances of success
ARE YOU A SELF-INTERRUPTER?
As an inveterate email checker, Rebecca was both fascinated and appalled by Adam Gazzaley and Larry Rosen’s recent article in Nautilus about how we use media and technology. One study of 3,048 Dutch teens and adults found that people of all ages multitasked at least a quarter of the time—with teens dual tasking 31 percent of their day. Another study saw UK workers dealing with an email, which itself took an average of just under two minutes, taking an average of 68 seconds to return to their work and remember what they were doing.