Worth a Look: Did Technology Kill American Unions?

June 13, 2012

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Plus: 8 Unexpectedly Harmful Toys, Handling Problem People, RFID Tech Gains, Family Businesses During the Recession, Creativity Killers, Happy Evolutionary Accidents and How Cities Will Drive Global Change.

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.

  • Did Technology Kill American Unions? | Around the middle of the last century, labor unions represented about a third of all American workers. Since then, the United States labor movement has undergone major changes, not the least of which has been shrinking membership. What happened? In a brief but interesting piece, The Atlantic highlights the theory that technological innovation both gave life to American labor unions and helped to destroy them.

  • Recession’s Impact on Family Businesses | Family-owned companies took a major hit in the last economic downturn, with owners experiencing significant losses in equity and overall household wealth. Recent Federal Reserve data show that between 2007 and 2010, the number of families that owned businesses fell 0.3 percent. Equity held in a private business accounts for a significant portion of these families’ assets, and the value of their business equity declined an average 20.5 percent in that three-year period, while overall family wealth dropped 14.7 percent.

  • Handling Problem People Is an Art | “Manipulation comes in many forms: There are whiners. There are bullies. There are the short-fused. Not to forget the highly judgmental. Or the out-and-out sociopath. But they often have one thing in common: Their MO is to provoke, then make you feel you have no reason to react – and it's all your fault to begin with!” Psychology Today explains in its latest issue. The magazine spotlights different types of problem people – whether they’re colleagues, bosses or family members – and provides suggestions on how to deal with them.

  • 8 Unexpectedly Harmful Toys | When it comes to children’s toys, the last thing we want to eclipse the fun factor is the safety issue. Unfortunately, ensuring a child gets a safe toy takes work: Some toys “seem completely incapable of causing injury or duress…until they do,” Mental Floss notes. For examples of these unassuming playthings – because young parents don’t have enough to worry about – check out Mental Floss’s roundup of eight seemingly innocuous toys that were pulled from store shelves.

  • RFID Adoption Surges | A new multi-year survey has found that usage of radio frequency identification (RFID) systems has surged among manufacturers in the past eight years, with an increasing number of firms requiring suppliers to use RFID-tagged materials to improve inventory tracking. According to RFID Journal, the rise in RFID adoption may be attributed to the technology becoming considerably more affordable since 2005, offering a cost-effective solution to inventory management, lower cycle times and decreased changeover rates.

  • 7 Worst Creativity Killers | Although IQ scores in the U.S. have continued to rise, creativity scores have been falling over time. Based on 20 years of surveys and workshops, Fast Company’s Co.Create blog identifies the key factors that are killing creativity, including: controlling systems that restrict freedom of thought; anxieties about taking risks; pressure from a faster pace of life; an insular mentality that values homogeneity over innovation; and plain old apathy.

  • Evolutionary Accidents that Made Us Human | Much of the evolutionary process is a game of chance: the right mutations over the course of millions of years represent the astonishing good luck that has resulted in human beings. A feature in New Scientist traces many of the key mutations and evolutionary accidents that have produced homo sapiens, such as the development of larger brains, the ability to meet higher biological energy needs, the gift of language, manual dexterity that enabled the use of tools and digestive genes that let us switch to more calorie-efficient diets.

  • How Cities Will Drive Global Change | Urban areas in the U.S. already contribute proportionally more to the nation’s economy than any other region in the world. According to urban scientist  Geoffrey West, cities are the future and innovations to make them better, smarter and faster are happening every day. Take a fascinating tour of some of the most interesting urban projects and thinking occurring today.

 

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