The essence of smart specialization: local economies as computational platforms (review essay)

The physical matter we are dealing with today is exactly the same that was available to our hominid Palaeolithic ancestors. What makes the difference between now and then is the way in which matter is arranged, and thus its information content. Starting from this simple but far from obvious remark, César Hidalgo’s Why Information Grows offers a fresh approach to the understanding of the functioning of economic systems which is at the same time pragmatic, conceptually elegant and innovative. Continue reading The essence of smart specialization: local economies as computational platforms (review essay)

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Rawlsian altruism with perfect discrimination leads to social efficiency

Recent studies draw attention on the highly specialized capacity of human beings in recognizing altruists versus cheaters in social interactions. These results hint at the existence of specialized abilities that support discriminating behavior in strategic interactions. In this paper, we explore the implications of discriminating behavior in the study of the indirect evolutionary selection of selfish versus altruistic motivations in the context of generic 2×2 base games, and in particular for coordination and cooperation scenarios. Continue reading Rawlsian altruism with perfect discrimination leads to social efficiency

Location matters for pro-environmental behavior: a spatial Markov Chains approach to proximity effects in differentiated waste collection

We analyze data on differentiated waste collection (as a proxy of proenvironmental behaviors) in Italian provinces in the years 1999–2012.
Continue reading Location matters for pro-environmental behavior: a spatial Markov Chains approach to proximity effects in differentiated waste collection

Multidimensional Similarities at a Global Scale: An Approach to Mapping Open Society Orientations

This paper analyzes the global geography of open society orientations in the sense of Karl Popper’s notion of open society, by means of a database consisting of five common, public and widely used indicators such as UNDP’s Human Development Index, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index, Reporters Sans Frontieres’ Press Freedom Index, and Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. Continue reading Multidimensional Similarities at a Global Scale: An Approach to Mapping Open Society Orientations

Self-protection, Psychological Externalities, and the Social Dynamics of Fear

We examine the social dynamics of crime by means of evolutionary game theory, and we model the choice of boundedly rational potential victims to privately self-protect against prospective offenders. Negative externalities from self-protection, as the socially transmitted fear of victimization, can influence the strategic choices of victims even with constant or declining crime rates, and this circumstance may lead to Pareto inefficient equilibria with excessive expenses for private protection. Providing higher levels of public security (or of appropriate social care) financed through discriminatory taxation of private defensive behaviors can prevent crime andreduce superfluous selfprotection, thus driving the social dynamics toward a more efficient equilibrium. Continue reading Self-protection, Psychological Externalities, and the Social Dynamics of Fear

Italian Foodies: Endogenous Growth Patterns towards ‘Foodtainment’ and Gourmandise

The industry of taste is increasingly being recognized as a ‘new’ sector in the creative industries, and a complex one which combines significant economic relevance with the elements of intangibility that are typical of cultural assets. It is a growing sector and a particularly interesting one in that it allows a most stimulating interplay of identity, traditions, territories, histories, and landscapes, combined with creativity, research, and technological innovation, and with an outstanding level of participation and active involvement of the general public. Continue reading Italian Foodies: Endogenous Growth Patterns towards ‘Foodtainment’ and Gourmandise

Understanding Cultural Geography as a Pseudo-Diffusion Process: The Case of the Veneto Region

In this paper, we study the cultural geography of the Veneto Region on the basis of a pseudo-diffusion approach to the analysis of the inherent semantic spatial data. We find somewhat surprising results, and, in particular, that Venice, indisputably the Region’s cultural hub in terms of concentration of activities and facilities, global visibility and attraction of resources, plays a marginal role in determining the momentum of cultural initiative at the regional level as of 2007 data. Continue reading Understanding Cultural Geography as a Pseudo-Diffusion Process: The Case of the Veneto Region

Analyzing the semantics of point spaces through the topological weighted centroid and other mathematical quantities: the hidden geometry of the global economic order

For many spatial processes, there is a natural need to find out the point of origin on the basis of the available scatter of observations; think, for instance, of finding out the home base of a criminal given the actual distribution of crime scenes, or the outbreak source of an epidemics. In this article, we build on the topological weighted centroid (TWC) methodology that has been applied in previous research to the reconstruction of space syntax problems, for example, of problems where all relevant entities are of spatial nature so that the relationships between them are inherently spatial and need to be properly reconstructed. Continue reading Analyzing the semantics of point spaces through the topological weighted centroid and other mathematical quantities: the hidden geometry of the global economic order

Culture driven policies and revaluation of local cultural assets: A tale of two cities, Otaru and Yubari

Management of cultural heritage is an issue that is attracting increasing attention worldwide, as emphasis shifts from pure conservation issues to issues of future sustainability of heritage sites. Experience seems to suggest that it is difficult to preserve heritage sites without embedding them into a cultural vital social and economic environment, whereas at the same time there is the risk that, by putting excessive focus on the economic dimension, they are turned into theme parks with gradual loss of authenticity and progressive disintegration of their cultural and historical value. This paper tackles these issues through a comparative study of two Japanese heritage cities, Otaru and Yubari, both in the Hokkaido Island of the Japanese archipelago. Continue reading Culture driven policies and revaluation of local cultural assets: A tale of two cities, Otaru and Yubari