Our Networked Age approach began life in the pages of some brilliant books, which explain why people think and act the way they do. So to celebrate our work for World Book Day, here is a list of brilliant books, from history and psychology to politics and anthropology, that helped shape our thinking, many of which are written by our expert partners.
1. The Square and the Tower, Niall Ferguson
This book coined the term ‘The Networked Age’ and is a brilliant historical guide to how communications networks change the world, upending traditional hierarchies and bringing about periods of foment. From the town square and the printing press to social media, Ferguson explains that networks are not egalitarian, instead concentrating power in a small number of influencers.
2. The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt
More than any other book, this illustrates why the Networked Age’s Rules of Influence matter to our communications. Haidt explains how instincts drive human reasoning and facts are a secondary consideration. From here, he explains why tribalism is such a powerful force and why people with different opinions are almost incapable of understanding each other’s arguments.
3. A Conflict of Visions, Thomas Sowell
Sowell defines the two fundamentally different worldviews that underpin all ideological differences. Every political argument you will ever have relates to the difference between the “constrained” and the “unconstrained” view of the world. Unless you understand how each side sees the world, you cannot persuade them.
4. Influence, Bob Cialdini
The co-founder of our partner agency Influence at Work is also the godfather of persuasion, defining the six behavioural science principles every communicator needs to understand to influence audiences.
5. Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
The book that introduced the concept of System 1 (fast, instinctive and emotional) and System 2 (slow and deliberative) thinking to the mainstream. Kahneman explains how fallible the human mind is and shows the ways in which we frame arguments and choices can lead to very different outcomes.
6. Messengers, Steve Martin & Joseph Marks
Two of our long-time Networked Age research partners, Steve Martin and Joe Marks, explore the eight types of effective messenger and show that the messenger is as important as the message.
7. The Influential Mind, Dr Tali Sharot
MIT and UCL neuroscientist Tali Sharot was the co-author of our Networked Age Guide and, in this book, she examines the biases that shape our decisions and what communicators can do to overcome them and influence audiences.
8. Everybody Lies, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Revealed preferences (what people do) are often more insightful than stated preferences (what people say they will do) and in this book, the author sifts through digital data like Google searches to find out what people really want. It’s a great guide to why surveys aren’t always a good way to get to the truth if you want to create an effective strategy.
9. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson
Documentary maker and podcaster Jon Ronson meets people who have been cancelled and learns their stories, asking important questions about the ethics of social media activism.
10. Poles Apart (Why People Turn Against Each Other, and How to Bring Them Together), Ali Goldsworthy, Laura Osborne, Alexandra Chesterfield
Written by the team behind MHP Group’s depolarisation consultancy Accord, this book explains the psychology of polarisation and how it is influenced by the stories we tell each other.
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