When we remember our past selves, they seem quite different. We know how much our personalities and tastes have changed over the years. But when we look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same, a team of psychologists said Thursday, describing research they conducted of people’s self-perceptions.

They called this phenomenon the “end of history illusion,” in which people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.”


Why? Dr. Gilbert and his collaborators … had a few theories, starting with the well-documented tendency of people to overestimate their own wonderfulness.

“Believing that we just reached the peak of our personal evolution makes us feel good,” Dr. Quoidbach said. “The ‘I wish that I knew then what I know now’ experience might give us a sense of satisfaction and meaning, whereas realizing how transient our preferences and values are might lead us to doubt every decision and generate anxiety.”

Or maybe the explanation has more to do with mental energy: predicting the future requires more work than simply recalling the past. “People may confuse the difficulty of imagining personal change with the unlikelihood of change itself,” the authors wrote in Science.

New study led by Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, author of the excellent Stumbling on Happiness, examines why you won’t stay the same (via explore-blog)

For more, join best-selling author Dan Gilbert (PopTech 2007) as he explores our capricious reaction to different threats—from tooth decay to anthrax to climate change on the PopTech stage.


Jonathan Harris on social media as “routing devices for human attention… providing our species with a common nervous system.”

Jonathan Harris (PopTech 2007) continues to redefine online storytelling.

From the Shareable Economy, the Tools to Rebuild

By Van Jones (PopTech 2007)

The shareable economy is home to some of the economy’s most inspiring practices and promising tools. But the shareable economy’s share of the total economy is still very small—greatly below its vast potential. The 99 percent can help to scale and popularize “shareable economy” tools to drive sustainable and collaborative consumption. Hundreds of thousands of 99 Percenters could work together to facilitate innovation, entrepreneurship, and build distribution systems to tackle their economic and financial problems together. They could be encouraged to act together in their own economic self-interest, such as driving Zipcar, shopping at farmers’ markets, living in cohousing, buying goods from Etsy, and sharing tools instead of purchasing them.

The shareable economy includes technologies and practices that center on barter, gift, direct exchange, and peer-to-peer loans. These include high-tech solutions such as Kickstarter and Kiva, platforms that support crowd-sourced funding and people-powered finance. It also includes “high-touch” solutions such as “resilience circles,” which are small, face-to-face support groups. Members of resilience circles help each other meet unmet needs by offering each other their skills, talents, resources, and unused time. Such circles enable people to achieve their American dreams by helping one another.

There are countless sources of inspiration, from the success of farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture (CSAs) to peer-to-peer marketplaces like Etsy (for handmade goods) and Airbnb (for accommodations), and even peer-to-peer lending services such as Prosper, Lending Club, and Zopa.

Through Airbnb, anyone with a spare room can now earn extra money by renting out their space. Through Kiva, the poorest of the poor can now have access to the capital needed to start a small business. Through Culture Kitchen, immigrant women can now earn an income by teaching others to cook in the style of their homeland. Having discovered that the average American uses her or his car just 8 percent of the time, new platforms like Getaround, RelayRides, and Zimride have sprung up to enable the sharing of autos owned by individuals. Some users of RelayRides make enough to offset their car payment each month. The shareable economy has been launched on the resource-full shareable.net.

Excerpted with permission from Rebuild the Dream, by Van Jones.  Available from Nation Books, a member of The Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2012.


After 2 years of work, Jonathan Harris (of We Feel Fine fame) launches Cowbird, a “simple tool for telling stories and a public library of human experience,” beginning with a “saga” about the Occupy movement.

Listen to Jonathan Harris (PopTech 2007) describe what he calls “storytelling platforms.”

Common - “The Believer” ft. John Legend (PopTech 2007, 2010)

The present looks less sinister, the past less innocent. The mind always focuses on current threats, and takes for granted the violent events that don’t happen but could easily have happened a few decades ago. A sniper in Norway kills dozens of innocent people—and the population does not riot or lynch the perpetrator and his extended family, but holds candlelight vigils. The Egyptian government falls—but the new one does not vow to push the Israelis into the sea. North Korea sinks a South Korean ship, killing 45 sailors—but instead of escalating to war, the Koreans go back to life as usual. Every day I notice the dogs that don’t bark.

Steven Pinker (PopTech 2007) on the history and the decline of Human Violence (via poptech)

UPDATE: Yikes! Yesterday we attributed this quote to Daniel Pink instead of Steven Pinker. If you reblogged, do us a solid and update your post! Thx.

Balloons of Bhutan: A portrait of happiness in the last Himalayan kingdom, is a delightful interactive story and photography project from Jonathan Harris (PopTech 2007).

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined is a new book by preeminent psychologist and best-selling author Steven Pinker (PopTech 2007).

My interest in biology was pretty much always on the philosophical side. Why do we exist, why are we here, what is it all about?

"Social Media" featuring selected works by Jonathan Harris (PopTech 2007) is opening this Thursday at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea, New York.

The show also includes work by David Byrne, Miranda July, Harrell Fletcher, Christopher Baker, Penelope Umbrico, and others.