Here are a few things:
1. A report on neuromarketing from Open magazine. I expected something in the Vance Packard Hidden Persuaders tradition of outrage, but it’s more a “wonder of science” thing. It ends with this though: “The future of design may well lie with neuromarketing — a future designed for the consumer, but it will also be a future where companies know the consumer’s mind better than the consumer himself does.” That’s wrong. The future is not designed for the “consumer”; it’s designed for capital to profit. Also, people don’t have a mind about most marketing issues until marketers shove those issues in their face with ubiquitous and invaive advertising. The point is not to read consumers’ minds but to make them.
2. At his blog, Chris Dillow urges us to read Baran and Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital. (Here’s a review/summary of the gist of it; poke around online and you’ll find full pdfs are out there too, I think.) Monopoly capital theory helps explain economic stagnation in structural terms. Dillow questions whether fiscal solutions can address what may be a structural problem — one of Arnold Kling’s favorite themes.
3. Lots of people have linked to this BBC story about North Tyneside, a borough which has built fake shops in empty storefronts. The Potemkin village of consumerism, as Tyler Cowen notes. My first instinct was to think this was imaginative, but it actually shows a profound lack of imagination, the inability for a society to conceive of alternatives to shopping.