Worth a Look: Which Nations Have the Most Economic Freedom?

May 2, 2012

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Plus: Design Simplicity, Eating Lunch at Your Desk, Wal-Mart's Expanded Supplier Scorecard, Neutrinos and Earth's Origin, Spotting a Liar and MORE.

Sometimes the Internet seems like it’s gotten too big. To help navigate this sea of information, IMT’s weekly Wednesday feature spotlights some of the more interesting, informative and amusing resources that might have slipped under your radar — all in bite-sized chunks.

  • Invention and Innovation: What's the Difference? | There’s a fundamental difference between an invention and an innovation, according to entrepreneur Tom Grasty. “In its purest sense, ‘invention’ can be defined as the creation of a product or introduction of a process for the first time,” Grasty explains at MediaShift Idea Lab. “‘Innovation,’ on the other hand, occurs if someone improves on or makes a significant contribution to an existing product, process or service.” Check out Grasty’s column to find out what this difference means for entrepreneurs.

  • Why Simpler Is Better | The next great business and technology opportunities may lie in finding the simplest possible solution to a seemingly large problem. As Aaron Levie, CEO and co-founder of content management company Box, writes at Fast Company, future success will depend on eliminating complexity and designing products that provide the most direct, easy-to-use experience for customers. This means specializing in core competencies, cutting rarely used features, improving the smallest details and constantly auditing processes to see if they can get done in simpler ways.

  • Should You Eat Lunch at Your Desk? | Sure, it’s good when employees feel devoted to their work, but, given the level of stress in today’s workplace, we have to wonder whether many employees' reluctance to take a lunch break is out of devotion or is a negative consequence of pressure some organizations are exerting on their workforces to get more done with less. Slate.com recently inspired quite a discussion with two posts outlining the virtues and the downsides of eating long lunches away from our desks. Do you take a lunch break?

  • Wal-Mart’s Expanded Supplier Scorecard Is a Big Deal | For the past two years, Wal-Mart has worked with more than 90 suppliers, other retailers, academics and others through The Sustainability Consortium to assess and improve the sustainability of its products. The retail giant is poised to transform the sustainability and retailing world – once again – with a significant expansion of its supplier scorecard program. This month, Wal-Mart announced it will broaden its original 15 questions to 100 major categories, with category-specific questions, by the end of 2012. GreenBiz.com lays out why this is a very big deal.

  • Interview: the Future of Human-Machine Interaction | As machines become more advanced, they also become better at interacting with human users. In an interview with GE’s Txchnologist blog, Clifford Nass, the founder of Stanford University’s Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab, discusses his work on developing a fully automated car. “Now because the intelligence of a fully automated car is obvious and overt, it creates a situation in which drivers have to understand what the car is doing,” Nass explains. “The car is becoming more of a partner than just a transportation device.”

  • The Science of Spotting a Liar | Wondering if a colleague is telling you the truth? Or whether a potential business partner is honest? In a recent TED lecture, Pamela Meyer, CEO and founder of social networking company Simpatico Networks, outlined a variety of scientific methods of lie detection. Lifehacker offers a summary of her findings and common signals broadcast by liars, such as using qualifying language like “to tell you the truth,” pointing their feet towards an exit and showing difficulty telling their story backwards.

  • Neutrinos Could Reveal the Earth’s Origin | Each year we learn more about the universe around us, but still know relatively little about our own planet. New research hopes to change that, with scientists studying neutrinos more closely to help determine the composition of Earth's mantle, its chemical components and the conditions that led to its formation. New Scientist explains that these particles are ejected in the radioactive decay of rocks deep below the planet’s surface and may hold secrets to its inner workings.

  • Index of Economic Freedom | For more than a decade, the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation have tracked economic freedom around the world with the Index of Economic Freedom, creating 10 benchmarks that gauge economic success. Click through for a fascinating interactive heatmap to explore the 10 freedoms – from property rights to entrepreneurship (“business freedom”) – in 184 countries.

 

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