Irresistible

The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
by Adam Alter | 368 pages

Irresistible. That’s the perfect word to describe the growing array of addictive technologies that are capturing so much of our attention these days. And, it’s the perfect name for the book. Adam Alter is an associate professor of marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business. This is a great book on, as the sub-title suggests, “The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.” Big Ideas we explore include the fact Steve Jobs didn’t let his own kids use an iPad (why?), why addiction is about more than just personality (and what matters), how to add 11 years back to your life, what happens when your brain gets pickled and the simple question you can ask to Optimize.


Irresistible traces the rise of addictive behaviors, examining where they begin, who designs them, the psychological tricks that make them so compelling, and how to minimize dangerous behavioral addiction as well as harnessing the same science for beneficial ends. If app designers can coax people to spend more time and money on a smartphone game, perhaps policy experts can also encourage people to save more for retirement or donate to more charities. …

The age of behavioral addiction is still young, but early signs point to a crisis. Addictions are damaging because they crowd out other essential pursuits, from work and play to basic hygiene and social interaction. The good news is that our relationships with behavioral addictions aren’t fixed. There’s much we can do to restore the balance that existed before the age of smartphones, emails, wearable tech, social networking, and on-demand viewing. The key is to understand why behavioral addictions are so rampant, how they capitalize on human psychology, and how to defeat the addictions that hurt us, and harness the ones that help us.”

~ Adam Alter from Irresistible

Irresistible.

That’s the perfect word to describe the growing array of addictive technologies that are capturing so much of our attention these days. And, it’s the perfect name for the book.

Adam Alter is an associate professor of marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business. This is a great book on, as the sub-title suggests, “The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.”

Yes. We’re addicted to our smartphones. And a ton of other technology. Although that’s not quite a newsflash at this point, this book pulls back the curtain on the businesses that are exploiting some vulnerabilities in our brains to maximize their share of our attention.

I got it after chatting with Cal Newport about Digital Minimalism. Cal told me about the 60 Minutes piece on Brain Hacking.

Short story there: Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are deliberately hacking our attention. They are, as Bill Maher said, “tobacco farmer’s in t-shirts.” But, as Maher says, the tobacco farmers just wanted our lungs. The tech entrepreneurs want our soul.

If that topic captures your interest and you’d like to learn more about what’s going on behind the scenes and how it might affect you and your family, I think you’ll really enjoy this book. It’s a well-written, quick read. (I highly recommend the hardcover edition. It’s always good to find an excuse NOT to use our smartphones. ;) Get a copy here.

For now, I’m excited to share some of my favorite Ideas so let’s jump in!

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About the author

Authors

Adam Alter

Author, marketing and psychology professor at NYU's Stern School of Business.