alarm clock

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A clock that tells you how much your office meeting is costing (number of people in the meeting x average hourly wage). Yes, it tells time too…

Hat tip: David de Souza

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1) Do Republicans respond differently than Democrats when their utility bills tell them how much energy they are using? Hat tip: Danny Vincent.

2) Remember the alarm clock that donates money to organizations you despise when you don’t get out of bed? How about a web site that donates money to those organizations when you procrastinate online. Hat tip: Gilad Buchman.

3) Do cities make signs about neighborhood parking confusing as a way to nudge people to park at meters and free up more space for neighborhood residents? Hat tip: Lou Wigdor.

4) Another web application for scoring your home’s energy efficiency. This one just raised $315,000.

5) PBS special Mind Over Money is available online (filmed, in part, at the University of Chicago).

6) The NCAA makes sickle cell testing the default option. Hat tip: Robert Barricelli.

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This one requires you to complete a puzzle involving shaped blocks.

Hat tip: Chad Valasek

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Nudges abound

Over the last few days, lots of links and brief observations have poured into the blog. Some highlights are below.

Parking: Paul Sweeney observes that the parking spaces in Florence are the size of a smart car, making them unwelcome to hulking sedans and trucks. (Of course the streets are much narrower too!) If cities want to reduce driving in their urban cores, why not paint the parking space lines closer together?

Alarm clocks: Who knew all the ways these would turn out to be nudges? First, there was the alarm clock that hides under the bed when it goes off; then there was the alarm clock that donates to an organization you despite each time you hit the snooze button; now there is the alarm clock that won’t stop buzzing until you do thirty reps with it. It’s shaped like a dumbbell. Maybe it will one day come in different weights. (Hat tip: Adora Tsang)

Spending: We’re not sure nudging spending by anyone carrying around massive credit card debt should be a government policy goal, but Dan Newman thinks federal tax cuts/rebates/refunds – pick your favorite description – should come as debit cards ($2,000, he says) instead of checks. That way, none of it could be socked away in a bank. The Obama administration has considered this idea, but thinks it is not yet logistically feasible. It was tried after Katrina, but getting cards out to tens of thousands in a few cities is much different than getting them to tens of millions in cities everywhere.

Vending machines: The University of Virginia has created a vending machine that uses the traffic light system to label various food options. The machine still sells junk food like chips and soda, but it adds a 5-cent surcharge for each one, which is donated to a children’s fitness clinic. The University’s provost told Governing magazine that year-to-year sales of green light items increased by more than 16 percent, while red light items fell by 5 percent. Apparently the clinic got the proceeds, $7,000, in nickels.

Star Trek: Ok, so this one isn’t a nudge. We weren’t the only ones who drew a link between Econs and Vulcans. So did Princeton political economy professor Uwe Reinhardt, who calls traditional economics Spockonomics.

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So far, we’ve found the alarm clock that jumps off your bed, and the alarm clock that donates to the charity or political party you hate most. Then there’s this plain old digital clock specifically designed for people who are constantly running late. (It’s a bit old, but it just popped up on our radar.)

It’s guaranteed to be up to 15 minutes fast. However, it also speeds up and slows down in an unpredictable manner so you can’t be sure how fast it really is. Furthermore, the clock is guaranteed to not be slow, assuming your computer clock is sync’d with NTP many computers running Windows and Mac OS X with persistent Internet connections already are.

So why go through all this trouble to make a clock that’s sometimes fast and sometimes not? FEAR, UNCERTAINTY and DOUBT, my friends! If you use this clock to keep appointments and deadlines, and you really care about being on time, you have to assume that the clock might actually be telling the correct time though it’s likely to actually be up to 15 minutes fast.

You can download the clock to your computer at David Seah’s site.

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“Clocky” is a creative product for helping people overcome a particular self-control problem of waking up on time (we refer to it in chapter 2 of Nudge). With “clocky,” a person can set the number of snooze minutes allowed the next morning. With that number runs out, “clocky” jumps off the night stand and moves around the room making annoying sounds. “Clocky,” as its advertisement claims, “is the alarm clock that runs away and hides to get you out of bed.”

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