Archive for January, 2008

Another case of the curse of knowledge (or a job for emoticons?)

emoticon.png esmiley.png

Similar to the ‘tappers and listeners’ example quoted in Made to Stick. Research from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests;

You have only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they’ve correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time. And the sender estimates that 80% of the time the recipient will correctly gauge the tone of the message.

In reality, the recipient correctly gauges the tone only 50% of the time.

The difference between the sender and the receiver’s understanding is a very dangerous gap to leave open to chance…

common emoticons

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initial nominative determinism?

Affection for our own names and initials can lead us to failureOur tendency to like our own names and initials – sometimes referred to as a form of implicit egotism – can have relatively trivial consequences, such that Britney will be more likely to move to Brighton than Sheffield, and Jack more likely to buy a Jaguar than a Ferrari. But now, in a series of intriguing studies, Leif Nelson and Joseph Simmons have shown how, from baseball performance to Law School, our affection for our own names can have bizarrely detrimental consequences.

…students with the initials C or D achieved significantly lower grades than students whose initials were unrelated to grade scores, and students with the initials A or B.

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aligning with the idea to exploitation cycle


  • The Idea; academic or breaking new ground work – blue sky & stimulating. Tough to sell to early adopter market.
  • 1st implementation; rewarding & thrilling work. Few providers, keeps price high as demand grows.
  • Commercial exploitation; efficiency led, next step after initial implementations delivered, less thrilling. Many providers, commoditization & price competition.

The cycle through idea to implementation and through to efficiency is followed in many business or technologies. Business goals and plans need to be aligned with the right stage in the cycles. People’s aspirations and expectations need to be aligned with the cycle as well. Someone seekig the intellectual challenges of new ideas will sit uncomfortably in a commoditization project.

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plate spinning vs tummy rubbing


Actions strung in a series are easier to execute than actions that have to be completed in parallel.

Plate spinning is repetition, albeit of a skillful, fast paced and difficult to do. Parallel actions, e.g. ‘rubbing your tummy, while patting your head’ take concentration and are significantly harder to execute.

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everything needs to be rewarding

Sandy (Petersen) regailed him (John Romero) about the payback a player should receive when blasting the lungs out of a demon with the shotgun. “you really should get rewarded on several levels,” he said. “you should hear the gun go off, you should see the big, manly guy cocking his shotgun, you see the bad guy go flying backwards, or an explosion. It’s always you’re rewarded for doing the right thing!”

Quote from Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner

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being used for a mighty purpose

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one… the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

George Bernard Shaw

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design language : rule of cool

“The limit of the Willing Suspension Of Disbelief for a given element is directly proportional to its degree of coolness. Stated another way, all but the most pedantic of viewers will forgive liberties with reality so long as the result is wicked sweet and/or awesome. This applies to the audience in general, as there will naturally be a different threshold for each individual in the group.

The Rule Of Cool is another principle that seeks to dispel arguments among fans over implausibility in fiction.”

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design language : pendulum play

Where a game will tend to swing back against a position or player once they achieve a significant advantage, and other players collaborate to reign in the advantage.

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control people with expletives


The brain stutters or boggles at the sight or sound of taboo words, taking more processing and interfering with the normal thought train.

“The psychologist Don MacKay has done the experiment and found that people are indeed slowed down by an involuntary boggle as soon as the eyes alight on each word. The upshot is that a speaker or writer can use a taboo word to evoke an emotional response in an audience quite against their wishes. Thanks to the automatic nature of speech perception, an expletive kidnaps our attention and forces us to consider its unpleasant connotations. That makes all of us vulnerable to a mental assault whenever we are in earshot of other speakers, as if we were strapped to a chair and could be given a punch or a shock at any time.”

“In humans, the amygdala “lights up”–it shows greater metabolic activity in brain scans–when the person sees an angry face or an unpleasant word, especially a taboo word.

The response is not only emotional but involuntary. Once a word is seen or heard, we reflexively look it up in memory and respond to its meaning, including its connotation. The classic demonstration is the Stroop effect, found in every introductory psychology textbook and the topic of more than four thousand scientific papers. People are asked to look through a list of letter strings and to say aloud the color of the ink in which each one is printed.

The reason is that, among literate adults, reading a word is such an over-learned skill that it has become mandatory: You can’t will the process “off,” even when you don’t want to read the words but only pay attention to the ink. A similar thing happens with spoken words as well.”

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are new ideas good?

“Most new ideas are bad; and the good ones are mostly not new.”- James G. March clipped from metacool
 Simple executed well or solid conceptual models beat ‘new’ and poorly understood.

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are the rewards like good treats?


Scarcity is important to make a reward in to a treat.

People like treats. People are indifferent to commodities, even when the quality of the latter is high.

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