Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Two talks on trust

[[update below with a review of the Ostrom talk]]

I made the mistake of getting Stanford's event calendar piped into mine, now I am constantly reminded of all the fascinating talks going on right next door, most of which I don't have time to go see (not that going to talks is a very good way of learning things). Here are two this week that are tempting me. This blog is already a declared Elinor Ostrom fan. The other one looks like it's more intellectually edgy. I wonder why it's at 7am? Maybe they're trying to ensure no actual gangsters attend?

[[edit: times are wrong, Stanford is confused about its time zone. Add 7 hours.]]

Elinor Ostrom (recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics / Political Science, Indiana University)

Thu Apr 8 12:30pm – Thu Apr 8 1:30pm

Annenberg Auditorium, 435 Lasuen Mall

Understanding Social Ecological Systems

Elinor Ostrom is the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Professor of Political Science at Indiana University. She is also the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University. Ostrom is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. She is the recipient of many distinguished awards and has authored (and/or co-authored) numerous books including "Trust and Reciprocity: Interdisciplinary Lessons from Experimental Research (2003); The Commons in the New Millennium: Challenges and Adaptations (2003); The Samaritan's Dilemma: The Political Economy of Development Aid" (2005); "Understanding Institutional Diversity" (2005); and "Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice" (2007).

This is event is co-sponsored by the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Department of Economics.
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Codes of the Underworld: Trust, Honesty, and Symbolic Communication

Fri Apr 9 7am – Fri Apr 9 8am

ENVIRONMENT & ENERGY BUILDING Room 101

Diego Gambetta, a Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Humanities Center this spring, will be presenting some of his work from Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate (Princeton University press, 2009). With him will be three discussants exploring his work and connections with their own: Gerry Mackie (UCSD, Political Science), Brian Skyrms (UC Irvine & Stanford, Philosophy), Rebecca Bird (Stanford, Anthropology), and David Laitin (Stanford, Political Science). These scholars are all part of a large interdisciplinary group working towards a better understanding of trust, signaling, communication, and cooperation. This symposium will serve as a venue for a discussion of the interplay between the work of these five scholars and the wider disciplines that they represent.

[[Ostrom talk review: Ostrom is an engaging speaker with a touch of academic drone, and I mean that in a good way -- her Nobel Prize did not seem to go to her head, and she's doing the same sort of work she's been doing for decades. Her talk was on her research on how social communities form rules to manage communal resources, and the various factors that go into making that successful (she had a list of a couple of dozen, such as size and mobility of the community, how bounded the resource is, and amount of communication between members. Her term for what she's studying is Social-Ecological Systems (SES) which emphasize the active role of social rules in managing natural resources. This talk didn't have anything at all about Knowledge Commons, which have a completely different set of dynamics and constraints.

I didn't get any really deep new insights, because so much of what she said just seemed like common sense to me (with some actual data to back it up, and a useful taxonomy of rule types). Unfortunately it's not common sense in the field of economics and policy, so her work is somewhat revolutionary and, with her newfound fame, may actually make a big difference for the better in how the world is run.

Another review

another Ostrom talk on video]]

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