Tom Bonnick, business development manager and commissioning editor at Nosy Crow, shares five things inspiring him to think and work differently right now.
Hardware: I have to confess to not actually owning or using a great deal of technology hardware (I don’t even have an e-reader), and day-to-day, the devices I rely on are just an iPhone and laptop. I have, intermittently, worn a FitBit Flex (I give up whenever the wristband breaks and I have to start over again), and although I can’t say I’m wholly sold on the future of wearable tech, the experience has been a fascinating lesson in how powerful a motivator personalised data can be - it really did make me more conscious of my habits. And I think that FitBit have done a great job of using peer groups and network effects to build their business: it’s a much more effective device when you can compete against your friends.
Software: Like almost everyone in publishing, I spent a lot of time on Twitter, but I find it immensely valuable as so much more than just a means of procrastination. It’s where I discover new ideas, people, breaking news, books that I want to read, and so much else. I found out about Nosy Crow through Twitter, and I probably wouldn’t be working here without it. It’s even where I first met my wife.
Book: The book that immediately springs to mind as one that has significantly changed the way I think about the world is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. It’s an extraordinary summary of 40 years of academic research by the father of behavioral economics, but it’s readable and engaging, even for a complete novice like me. You can see Kahneman’s DNA in the work of practically every popular economics and psychology writer of the past decade: Malcolm Gladwell, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner - everyone.
Idea: It’s hardly a new idea, but I find Isaiah Berlin’s concept of hedgehogs and foxes incredibly compelling, even if it was originally intended as a sort of dinner party joke. Generally speaking I am wary of grand unifying theories of everything, but I also can’t resist any argument which rests on the notion that there are two kinds of people in the world.
Person: I think that we could all learn a lot from Beyonce. There is so much to admire and be inspired by in a woman who is so in command of her art that she can release a new record in whatever format and on whatever platform she chooses. Who else could premiere an album as a one-hour film on HBO? Their is so much bravura brilliance not only in the music that she makes, but also in the way she chooses to release it. The only person I can think of who is remotely comparable, and the closest equivalent that we have in publishing - in terms of the degree of vision and the size of their audience - is JK Rowling. Pottermore is another amazing example of an artist exerting creative control.