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2013 Top 10s of everything

The year 2013 is drawing to a close (where did it go?) and the world did not end. Lots happened and as I did at the end of 2012 here’s my little collection of top 10s… please note they’re in no particular order, not all necessarily created, released, finished or completed in 2013, it was just when I discovered them… and of course it’s just my own subjective opinon:

1 – Books

  1. Arthur C. Clarke – 2001: A Space Odyssey – Wow – Just Wow. How did I ever manage to get to 2013 and have not read this masterpiece. Really an amazing book.
  2. Thomas Harris – The Hannibal Lecter Trilogy – Again, just another set of books I felt like I should have read. So I did & it didn’t disappoint. Really knocked me back how good they were / are.
  3. Dan Brown – The Lost Symbol – I read all the Dan Brown books this year and The Lost Symbol was my favourite. The others were ‘nah’ but The Lost Symbol I really enjoyed. Hence this one makes it onto the list but the others don’t.
  4. Neil Cross – The Calling: A John Luther Novel – Dark, deep, a real page turner.
  5. James McQuivey – Digital Disruption: Unleashing the next wave of innovation – I have worked in disruptive innovation for more than 15 years. Here, McQuivey offers insights about disruption–and about the accelerating pace of disruption–that I truly hadn’t understood before. This is a very important book about what tomorrow holds in store; it shows us both what will happen and how to address it. I recommend it enthusiastically.
  6. Jared Cohen and Eric Schmidt – The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations & Business – This is a book that defines both the nature of the new world which the internet is creating; and its challenges
  7. Orson Scott Card – Enders Game – read this when I found out about the film. What an incredible book. So visceral and twisted
  8. Sebastian Junger – The Perfect Storm – W0w. Just wow. What a read.
  9. George R R Martin – A Game of Thrones – I’ve read this before and didn’t get on with it, so I went back and tried again. Easier the second time round. Enjoyed it.
  10. Simon Rogers – Facts are Sacred – A beautiful book that sits proudly on my shelf.

2 – Most visited websites in order (officially – I kept stats!)


3 – Albums

These are the albums that weren’t necessarily all released just in 2013, but the ones I discovered and played the most;

  1. Bastille – Bad Blood – A great album. That is all.
  2. Biffy Clyro – Opposites – Far from their best, but far from their worst. Just nice to have Biffy back on the stereo until the Foos release a new album.
  3. Dave Matthews Band – The Best Of What’s Around – Bit of cheat because it’s a greatest hits… but it did get a lot of airplay, so it has to go on the list.
  4. David Bowie – The Next Day – Nice to see Bowie back in action & even better that the album delivers.
  5. Empire of the Sun – Ice on the Dune – Guilty Pleasure really.
  6. Feeder – Silent Cry – An old album now really, but I just kept coming back to it. Commercially the bands least successful to date, but to me, their best.
  7. The Foals – Holy FireHoly Fire? Holy Shit! What a fucking masterpiece. Loved it.
  8. Austin Wintory – Journey Soundtrack – Just a stunning stunning piece of work when you think it’s a Game soundtrack it makes it even more remarkable.
  9. Gary Clark Jr. – Blak and Blu – Loved. Great discovery this year. Recommended by a client.
  10. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming – An album full of sublime genius.

4 – Songs

  1. Mumford & Sons – I will wait – Helped me run up some big hills out in the rain this song.
  2. Coldplay – Glass of Water – A hidden gem on the Prospekt March album. Really their best song ever. It’s EPIC.
  3. Foals – Bad Habit – Booooom. What a track.
  4. Bastille – Pompeii – First track off the album. A little overplayed this year but still great.
  5. Empire of the Sun – DNA – You’ve got to admit EOTS are good fun… this is just a great radio track.
  6. Pete Lawrie – Half as Good – Still on the playlist.
  7. Wild Cub – Thunder Clatter – You’ll recognise this one off the TV!
  8. Yiruma – River Flows In You – Just beautiful.
  9. Athlete – Yesterday Threw Everything At Me – Ended the year by listening to this old classic a lot.
  10. Pearl Jam – Release – So old now this song but still so so so amazing.

5 – Films

  1. Pain & Gain – A surpise gem. Had no idea it was going to be so good. Loved it. LOVED IT.
  2. Man of Steel – It’s good. Say what you want… I thought it’s scale, tone & direction were superb.
  3. Star Trek Into Darkness – It’s a great film. It just is.
  4. Iron Man 3 – Rescued from being medicare by Sir Ben Kingsley who was EPIC.
  5. The Evil Dead (remake) – I’m a fan of the originals and I was worried about this. But it’s good old fashioned video nasty. Respect to the director for sticking to his guns.
  6. Django Unchained – Was cracking wasn’t it?!
  7. Filth – Dark, funny, deep… true to the book… McAvoy aced it.
  8. Zero Dark Thirty – I enjoyed it. Not normally my thing, but I did.
  9. Thor: The Dark World – Brain Chew.
  10. Lincoln – Again, not normally my thing, but enjoyed it. Dragged on a bit though.

6 – TV Moments

  1. Breaking Bad – Seasons 1 – 5
  2. True Blood – Season 6
  3. The Walking Dead – Season 3
  4. Game of Thrones – Season 3
  5. House of Cards – Season 1
  6. Hannibal – Season 1
  7. Sherlock – Season 1 – 3
  8. Luther – Season 3
  9. Banshee – Season 1
  10. House – Season 1

7 – Interactions / Experiences / Marketing

  1. First Directs Beat-boxing Bird
  2. Apples iOS 7 – Flat and boring but rewarding and slicker
  3. Various Twitter updates
  4. Amnesty International – Trial By Timeline Campaign
  5. Nike Fuel – Got the new fuelband which is fantastic and the app updates have been awesome
  6. The New MySpace
  7. Clash of Clans – Technically an app, but in general I’ve used it as a case study of genius for a whole year now
  8. IFTTT – If this, then that – Absolutely brilliant. Love it.
  9. Argus – Motion and Fitness Tracker
  10. A project that I’ve been working on for an insurance company in the UK, that I can’t talk about.

8 – News stories

  1. Nelson Mandela died Dec. 5 at age 95, leaving a legacy that extended far beyond ending 46 years of apartheid in South Africa. He inspired generations around the world to fight not just for racial equality, but for inclusiveness. Not many people actually CHANGE THE WORLD… He did. RIP.
  2. North Korea – Fascinating to wonder what’s going on there.
  3. The NSA leaks that began in June. Edward Snowden, an NSA contractor, had collected a vast store of secret internal documents and began sharing them with journalist Glenn Greenwald, The Washington Post, and others. The revelations were shocking: the scope and depth of the NSA’s collection of private data stopped looking like a conspiracy theory and became a cold, hard reality we all had to face. The leaks showed that the NSA has collected troves of phone records, spied on US citizens, and tapped the phones of foreign leaders.
  4. Drones – Though the debates surrounding military drone strikes are far from over, 2013 saw a new issue rise: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in US airspace. The rise of the machines are upon us!
  5. Elon Musk – The CEO and co-founder of two of the most exciting technology companies today — SpaceX and Tesla — Elon Musk sits atop The Verge 50 for a reason. Rarely a week went by in 2013 when the South African billionaire wasn’t in the news, having taken his white-hot electric vehicle-maker to its first-ever quarterly profit, docked a spacecraft with the International Space Station, and — in his plentiful spare time — designed an audacious high-speed transport system that could send commuters from LA to San Francisco in under half an hour. At just 42 years of age, it seems likely that Musk will be a newsmaker for many, many days to come (or sols, once he inevitably finds his way to Mars).
  6. Bitcoin – The virtual currency that mimics cash on the internet, has proven itself to be surprisingly resilient, as technology fads go. Despite increased regulation, repeated price crashes, massive heists, and competition from other virtual currencies, Bitcoin is now almost five years old — it’s showing no sign of going away, and has even spawned a meme-based me-too cryptocurrency.
  7. 2013 saw the last big tech IPO that everybody had been waiting for: Twitter. Unlike Facebook, which faltered out of the gate, Twitter’s IPO was a home run by most measures. While a host of early employees and angel investors made a ton of new cash (some of which will pour back into the startup scene), the IPO established Twitter as a mainstream company. Next up? Profit, if Twitter plays its cards right. Those cards include more pictures, more ways to bring in new users (and potentially annoy current ones), and more rapid redesigns of its apps. Now that it’s a public company with real investors expecting real returns, the biggest changes for the service are yet to come.
  8. The resurrection of MUSIC: Remember when the music industry was doomed? It wasn’t so many years ago, but it feels like longer. It was before Beyoncé ambushed the web with one of the best albums of the year, owning the moment in a way most culture critics thought was impossible in the modern age. She was snatching it from Kanye, who’d been tussling with Daft Punk for control of the world’s headphones all summer. Jay-Z did his strange, transfixing, app-based two-step with Samsung and for months on end, it was all anyone wanted to talk about. And that’s to say nothing of the billion-dollar EDM company that splashed onto the Nasdaq in October. Music? Dead? What were we thinking?
  9. Mars gets interesting – Experts have been scrutinizing the red planet for decades, but 2013 offered up unprecedented and tantalizing details about what Mars is (and was) made of. After landing on the planet in August of 2012, NASA’s Curiosity rover spent this past year sending back reams of data for scientists to analyze, leading to new insights into the planet’s watery, potentially habitable past. And Curiosity will soon have more company, as this year also saw NASA launch the MAVEN probe to characterize Mars’ atmosphere
  10. Design went Flat – Windows has its Live Tiles, Google has its Cards, and now, with iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, Apple has finally left the rich textures of its recent history behind. The company changed the direction of its mobile and desktop software in less than a year, moving from green felt and faux leather to flat panels, thin type, and soft gradients.

 9 – Most used Apps (iOS)

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter (my most used app by a country mile)
  3. Instagram
  5. LinkedIn
  6. Ebay
  7. First Direct
  8. FourSquare
  9. BBC News
  10. LapseIt

10 – People

  1. Nelson Mandela
  2. Elon Musk
  3. Google’s Schaft Robot
  4. Edward Snowden
  5. Jeff Bezos
  6. Barack Obama
  7. Dick Costolo
  8. Banksy
  9. Lou Reed
  10. Dwayne Johnson – The Rock (Once you’ve seen Pain & Gain you’ll know why I put him on my list!!!!!)


And that concludes my 2013 10×10. A varied year for stuff I liked. More old old old stuff that I went back and caught up on than new stuff that swung me in 2013. A year for looking backwards.

What makes you click?

There’s a turf war for readers’ mouse clicks and one of the favoured trick is to phrase headlines as questions. This isn’t an Internet innovation. As a way to grab attention, question headlines have been recommended by editors and marketeers for decades. But what is new, is the easy ability today to measure how often readers choose to click a headline. For a new paper, researchers in Norway have used Twitter to find out if question headlines really do entice more clicks. This is classic Neuro CX at work. The art of fooling the inquisitive.

Linda Lai and Audun Farbrot used a real science communication Twitter feed that had 6,350 followers at the time of the study. Real stories were tweeted to these followers twice, an hour apart. The first tweet used a statement headline, such as “Power corrupts”. The second tweet, referring to the same story, was phrased as a question that was either self-referencing, as in “Is your boss intoxicated by power?” or non-self-referencing, as in “Are bosses intoxicated by power?”

Lai and Farbrot found that self-referencing question headlines were clicked on average 175 per cent more often than statement headlines (this advantage dropped to 150 per cent for non-self-referencing question headlines). The difference in clicks for question and statement headlines was statistically significant, but the difference between the self-referencing and non-self-referencing headlines was not.

A follow-up study was similar but was conducted via the Norwegian equivalent of Ebay, known as Lai and Farbrot posted adverts for an iPhone, a couch, a TV and a washing machine using either statement headlines or question headlines (self-referencing or not), such as: “For sale: Black iPhone4 16GB”; “Anyone need a new iPhone4?”; or “Is this your new iPhone4?”

Overall, across the four products, non-self-referencing question headlines were clicked on 137 per cent more often on average than statement headlines; this rose to 257 per cent more often for self-referencing question headlines. This time the difference between the two types of question headline was statistically significant. This overall benefit of question headlines was observed despite one anomaly that the researchers were unable to explain – question headlines for washing machines actually led to fewer clicks than statement headlines.

The clear take-out from this research is that you should phrase your headlines as questions, especially self-referencing ones, if you want to attract more clicks. “The combined strategy [of question headlines and self-referencing] seems to represent a useful tool for practitioners in attracting readers to their Internet-based communications,” the researchers said. However, an issue they don’t address is what happens if headline writers heed this message and adopt question headlines universally. Perhaps then statement headlines would appear more original and distinctive and attract more clicks…

Original Source:


2012 Top 10s of everything

The year 2012 is drawing to a close (where did it go?) and the world did not end. Lots happened and as always here’s my little collection of top 10s… please note they’re in no particular order and just my own subjective opinon:

1 – Books

  1. Charlies Bronson – Bronson – Compelling reading. Frightening but a page turner. More an overview of the failings of the prison system than a memoir of a total loon.
  2. Bear Grylls – Facing Up
  3. Jon Krakauer – Into Thin Air – A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster in 1996
  4. Oscar Pistorius – Blade Runner – Never a more moving and inspiring story written!
  5. Wade Davis – Into the Silence – Haven’t finished reading it yet, but it’s shaping up to be my favorite book of the year.
  6. Simon Yates – Against the Wall – Not a page turner and pretty repetitive, but it’s still a good read if you’re into climbing books
  7. Michael Crichton – Jurassic Park / The Lost World – I’ve read them before but wanted to revisit. Well worth it too. Still two amazing books. Jurassic Part far superior.
  8. Mark Johnson – Wasted – This is the big one for me. A truly remarkable book. Absolutely engrossing and moving.
  9. Keith Richards – Life – Just an ‘alright’ rock biography full of the anecdotes you’d expect but nothing that really made me go “oh wow”
  10. Walter Isaacson – The Authorized Biography of Steve Jobs – Took me a while to get through this. It’s not an easy or enjoyable read. But worth it. RIP Jobs – I think few men or women get to say they actually ‘changed the world’… Steve Jobs was one of them.

2 – Most visited websites in order (officially – I kept stats!)

3 – Music (albums)

These are the albums that weren’t necessarily all released just in 2012, but the ones I discovered and played the most;

  1. Chicane – Thousand Mile Stare – An unbelievable return to form
  2. Deus Ex Human Revolution Soundtrack – What an amazing thing… a computer game soundtrack made it into my top 10. Seriously good album. Almost Bladerunner-esque
  3. John Murphy – Sunshine Soundtrack – Again. A bit of a weird edition and no real explanation other than that I listened to it loads.
  4. Sucker Punch Soundtrack – ANOTHER soundtrack. The horror. A bit different this time though… some very very cool covers of some very very cool songs by the cast of the movie. A great selection.
  5. Robbie Williams – Take the Crown – ALRIGHT… I admit it… this is my guilty, uncool addition. 3 songs I skip on an album of 10 tracks is pretty good going.
  6. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Got a lot of air-play in the Trainor house. I’m glad he left Oasis & went solo. He’s better on his own.
  7. Keane – Strangeland – It’s not a guilty pleasure when it’s an album of this quality. Some big tunes.
  8. Toploader – Only Human – Technically released in 2011 but it only hit my ipod in 2012 and I listened to it religiously for MONTHS.
  9. Muse – The 2nd Law – Sometimes ridiculous but always rewarding. I fear Muse are starting to morph into a slight parody of themselves, but for now they’re still turning out big rock.
  10. Beastie Boys – The in sound from way out – When co-founder Adam Yauch Dead this year I went back over all my old BB albums and I found this little gem. Just a straight up Funk Jazz album. It’s massive.

4 – Music (individual songs)

  1. Keane – Sovereign Light Cafe
  2. Robbie Williams – Into the Silence
  3. Chicane & Vigri – Sòlarupprás
  4. The Envy Corps – Rhinemaidens
  5. Ki:Theory – My Thoughts
  6. Muse – The 2nd Law / Unsustainable
  7. Coldplay – Don’t let it break your heart
  8. Grouplove – Colours
  9. Chicane – Thousand Mile Stare
  10. Public Enemy – Harder than you think

5 – Films

  1. The Dark Knight Rise – Disappointing conclusion but it was a slow year for films so still made it in.
  2. The Avengers – Dumb & I loved it.
  3. Skyfall – The jury is still out on this one.
  4. Prometheus – I actually really enjoyed it despite the scathing reviews
  5. First Ascent – A climbing film… about first ascents…
  6. Sucker Punch – So it wasn’t amazing. But it did entertain me on a plane.
  7. Warrior – A film about mixed martial arts????? Ughhhh… How? Amazing.
  8. Super 8 – Just a really interesting film. Not brain taxing, but is represents what cinema should be – silly escapism.
  9. The Amazing Spiderman – OK… a reboot wasn’t really necessary so soon. However… it’s a much better film than any that Rami (the horror) was able to create & it’s got all the component parts for a great superhero flick.
  10. The Devils Double – We rented this off the Box Office and found ourselves pleasantly surprised. A really great movie.

6 – TV Moments

The first 3 are all episodes of the same TV series. Justifiably so… First Ascent is in my mind one of the greatest pieces of TV that I’ve ever seen. The missing episodes were equally amazing but it’s these that really blew my mind.

  1. First Ascent – Episode 3: Alone On The Wall – Alex Honnold usually a bumbling, slightly geeky kid, becomes poised and graceful when free solo climbing. He sets his sights on scaling Yosemite’s iconic 600-metre Half Dome wall.
  2. First Ascent – Episode 4: Brothers Wild – Professional climber Timmy O’Neill and his brother Sean, who is paralysed from the waist down, rely on their skills and tenacity to climb huge walls like El Capitan and remote Alaskan mountains.
  3. First Ascent – Episode 5: Point Of No Return – Two top alpine climbers and a cameraman go on a fateful journey to a dangerous mountain in south western China. There’s an unbelievable twist in this story that really almost had me in tears.
  4. The Paralympic Closing Ceremony – So what if it was essentially a great big Coldplay gig. It was amazing. The best of the games ceremonies this year.
  5. Game of Thrones Season 2 – Epic. Just epic.
  6. The Walking Dead Season 3 – Taking the action up a notch. Thrilling & big value TV.
  7. Grand Designs – More compelling wackiness. Some great projects. Some absolute stinkers. All great to watch.
  8. The Killing Season 2 – Much pacier and more enjoyable than the first (which I wasn’t a massive fan of).
  9. True Blood – I raced through all 4 seasons this year. Was never expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. Great TV.
  10. Homeland – It’s not grabbed me as much as the wife, but it’s still good to get into a regular show. It’s made Sunday nights better!

7 – Interactions / Experiences

  1. Nike Fuel Band – Nuff said.
  2. Photos To Art App – Smart. Clever. Easy.
  3. New MySpace – This one had me excited right from that teaser video & it’s delivering. The search on it’s own is one of the coolest things I’ve seen all year. Pure amazingness.
  4. SF Dok – 360 Langstrasse Zurich – It’s not new but it is amazing. I saw a new way of navigating when I found this, so I learn some new tricks.
  5. – It got easier, it morphed, it was tweaked…
  6. eBay iPad App – It’s marmite. You’ll be in love with it or you’ll hate it. I found all it’s weird little interactions amazing and compelling. Like developers had just been told to ‘go and play’.
  7. Isotope from MetaFizzy was a defining library of code for me in more ways than one. For starters this blog you’re reading right now is built using it (amongst other project). It’s also been my ‘sort’ function of choice in 2012.
  8. Responsive Web Design – It’s no silver bullet. It’s mis-used. It’s over-sold. But it was the big thing in 2012 and will continue to be so into 2013 and beyond despite what the naysayers predict.
  9. Maily – You know when you see something & think “sh*t, I wish I’d come up with that”… this was that moment for me. My son Charlie LOVES it and so do I.
  10. Roambi become one of my most used references for Data Visualisation (real, not creative) and it inspired a lot of conversations with a lot of clients and colleagues.

8 – News stories

  1. President Barack Obama earning a second term as President of the USA after defeating Republican challenger Mitt Romney
  2. Facebook’s much-hyped initial public offering was the biggest in Internet history. It gave the company a market cap of more than $104 billion but then went on to flop.
  3. The crisis in Syria has escalated through 2012 as the government of Bashar al-Assad continues its extreme crackdown on Syrian rebels and protesters. The U.S. and the international community have come under increasing pressure to act.
  4. Great Britain’s Andy Murray took Olympic gold over Roger Federer at Wimbledon… made so much sweeter by the fact he lost in the Wimbledon final to Federer in June. An astonishing comeback.
  5. Jessica Ennis really proved why she was our Olympic poster girl after she clinched the Olympic heptathlon title in style.
  6. The Curiosity Mars Rover was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011 aboard the MSL spacecraft and successfully landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012. We just loved the fact that the Rover was ‘Tweeting’.
  7. Apple axed the ‘Maps chap’ and Jony Ive took over software design – Which is going to mean some astonishing things. Mr Ive also visited the palace in 2012 and was Knighted. A remarkable achievement.
  8. The SOPA Blackout On January 18 – Wikipedia, along with many others, orchestrated a service blackout. The sites shut down for the day and put up banners explaining why they weren’t operating and instructing people to sign petitions against SOPA.

 9 – Most used App (iOS)

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter (most used by a country mile)
  3. Instagram
  5. LinkedIn
  6. Ebay
  7. NatWest
  8. IncrediBooth
  9. Nike Fuelband
  10. CineXPlayer

10 – People

  1. Jony Ive – The man who shapes my tech.
  2. Tom Hardy – The actor who appeared in 2 of my top 10 films (Warrior & Dark Knight Rises).
  3. Kim Jong-un – The funniest politician on the planet.
  4. Barack Obama – The guy did good. Again.
  5. John McAfee – What an amazing news story.
  6. Oscar Pistorius – For me, the elite Athlete of the last 10 years.
  7. Bashar Assad – The man who just keeps on keeping on.
  8. Sebastian Vettel – Answered the critics (much like Andy Murray) and for me, he is the sportsman of the year.
  9. Hans Rosling – He made me fall in love with Data this year.
  10. Mark Zuckerberg – He is still the most influential man for my social circle.


And that concludes my 2012 10×10. Really nothing AMAZING and controversial this year (with the exception of me admitting to like Robbie Williams new album) but still a year of some great events and media consumption. A steady year, not an explosive year.

Gamification, the Zeigarnik effect & EPIC wins

Bluma Zeigarnik was a Russian psychologist who identified what came to be called the “Zeigarnik Effect.”… basically, it means that once we start doing something, we’re going to tend to want to finish it. The Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed ones.

Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik first studied the phenomenon after her professor, Gestalt psychologist Kurt Lewin, noticed that a waiter had better recollections of still unpaid orders. Zeigarnik went back to the lab to test out a theory about what was going on. She asked participants to do twenty or so simple little tasks in the lab, like solving puzzles and stringing beads (Zeigarnik, 1927). Except some of the time they were interrupted half way through the task. Afterwards she asked them which activities they remembered doing. People were about twice as likely to remember the tasks during which they’d been interrupted than those they completed. Also, of those interrupted nearly 90% carried on working on the puzzle anyway.

In Gestalt psychology, the Zeigarnik effect has been used to demonstrate the general presence of Gestalt phenomena: not just appearing as perceptual effects, but also present in cognition.
The Zeigarnik effect suggests that students who suspend their study, during which they do unrelated activities (such as studying unrelated subjects or playing games), will remember material better than students who complete study sessions without a break (Zeigarnik, 1927; McKinney 1935).

One of the oldest tricks in the TV business for keeping viewers tuned in to a serial week after week is the cliffhanger. You tune in next week for the resolution because the mystery is ticking away in the back of your mind.

The great English novelist Charles Dickens used exactly the same technique. Many of his works, like Oliver Twist, although later published as complete novels, were originally serialised. His cliffhangers created such anticipation in people’s minds that his American readership would wait at New York docks for the latest instalment to arrive by ship from Britain. They were that desperate to find out what happened next. What all these examples have in common is that when people manage to start something they’re more inclined to finish it. Procrastination bites worst when we’re faced with a large task that we’re trying to avoid starting. It might be because we don’t know how to start or even where to start.

What the Zeigarnik effect teaches is that one weapon for beating procrastination is starting somewhere… anywhere. Don’t start with the hardest bit, try something easy first. If you can just get under way with any part of a project, then the rest will tend to follow. Once you’ve made a start, however trivial, there’s something drawing you on to the end. It will niggle away in the back of your mind like a “Lost” cliffhanger. Although the technique is simple, we often forget it because we get so wrapped up in thinking about the most difficult parts of our projects. The sense of foreboding can be a big contributor to procrastination.

The Zeigarnik effect has an important exception. It doesn’t work so well when we’re not particularly motivated to achieve our goal or don’t expect to do well. This is true of goals in general: when they’re unattractive or impossible we don’t bother with them. But if we value the goal and think it’s possible, just taking a first step could be the difference between failure and success.”

Check out this TED video from Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world, it’s awesome:

…and this I think is one of the smartest applications of a Gamification model I’ve seen for a while… it’s a piece of Project Management software called RedCritter. Team members earn badges, points & rewards for completing tasks on time etc… just smart really:

The lines of experience

It’s been an exciting couple of years hasn’t it? The whole offline / online thing… the internet went from being a place you visited to ‘digital’ which exists in multiple places simultaneously and intrinsically woven into our lives. The Eco-System effect. How about this one, you’ll like this and be repelled at the implications in equal measures. There are some bars and clubs in the U.S using a novel technology to help partygoers decide where to party. SceneTap, an American start-up, uses cameras to scan the faces of those who enter and leave participating establishments. Its software then guesses each person’s age and sex. Aggregated data is streamed to a website and mobile app. This allows punters to see which bars are busy, the average age of revellers and the all-important male-to-female ratio. The bar owners gain publicity and intelligence about their customers. For instance, did a promotion aimed at women attract many?

It’s the phone angle. You can adapt your behavior in advance when things used to be essentially ‘pot-luck’. We’re almost cyborg in nature by virtue of having our lives augmented with mobile. We can see through walls now. Bye-bye FourSquare, I’m not going to ‘check-in’ because it already knows I’m there and tells people if I opt in to be auto-detected.

Many companies face the challenge of creating entirely new behaviours for new products. However, my thinking is that behaviour change is far more successful when it aligns with a habit we’ve already formed, which apparently shapes nearly half of the decisions we make every day.

Around 74.2% of the UK’s population, totalling 47m, will go online at least once a month this year on a range of devices including smartphones and tablets, according to eMarketer stats… and that number has almost quadrupled in 5 years because of the rise of the smartphone. We’re all getting smarter at astonishing rates.

I’m also loving the Nike Fuel Band and it’s bigger applications… At SXSW this year, to promote the Fuel Band, Nike essentially turned the inside of a venue into one huge Fuelband wristband with the same colored lights and ability to track energy level. Except in this case, Nike was tracking the energy level of the whole crowd.

Across town from the gig they had rigged up lighting in a building to react to the audience at the gig. The more energetic the crowd, the greener the building became, so that people outside the event could witness the level to which the crowd was going off. It helped that Nike picked two very high energy bands for this show: Diplo and Sleigh Bells. Nike measured the crowd’s energy level by placing Nike FuelBands on the wrists of a large number of attendees, then tracked the activity using customized wireless technology that functions similarly to the way the iOS app works. It’s an extreme example but think about it… using digital, people influenced the lighting at another location. I remember when I got my first feature phone in 1997 people said I was mad because the SMS thing would never take off!

What happens when all these new ways of doing things start converging and the lines start to blur? For instance… Online sales are expected to reach to a staggering $317 billion by 2016 in the U.S which is phenomenal, right… but I’ve always had this hypothesis that online sales aren’t just about convenience, they’re also about data. People love the fact that they can see something rated or reviewed, or find obscure things that are just too difficult to find on the high-street. It’s a demand thing. I’d be fascinated to see what starts to happen when those ratings and ‘easy to find’ influences start popping up in more Urban environments – “Hey Pete, there’s a huge footfall of people like you occurring at this place not too far from where you are right now & they’re all buying things you might like, let me lead you there“. Augmented behavior offline using online data. Could be huge.

Users understand the importance of the internet and a bad experience can go a long way; 44% of online shoppers will tell their friends about a bad experience online according to a report by KissMetrics. So take that sentiment offline and there is this whole “don’t go in there Pete, a lot of people like you had a rubbish time”…

Then there’s the growing behavior around tablets. Sure, it was bound to happen, we just needed Apple to lead the charge, but it’s the way they’ve altered and augmented behavior that I find astonishing. 69% of tablet owners make a purchase on their device every month, according to stats from inMobi and Mobext. 50% of tablet owners spend at least an hour a day accessing media content on their tablets, and 72% use it while watching TV. So it’s not a huge leap ahead of us to assume ‘shopping the adverts’ is just around the corner. The advertising they said was dead is just about to be supplemented by technology. My behavior doesn’t change, but the experience is augmented by the ability to just a button on my iPad & buy what I’m watching. Makes sense. Especially if there are “100 people like you all doing the same”.

According to an IAB/ValueClick study, 52% of consumers are happy to see online advertising because it allows them to view content or use services online at no cost – they’ve brought their offline viewing habits with them. But 55% said they would rather see advertising relevant to their interests and 59% would prefer a lower number of relevant ads than a higher volume of irrelevant ones. So how long before that mobile or tablet you use influences what adverts you see while you’re watching your favorite shows, so when you reach out and buy it instantly you’re actually just choosing to buy from things you’re really only interested in. I don’t have a dog, don’t show me adverts for dog food… Augmented advertising comes to the TV experience. It’s all totally feasible now.

Digital experience crossing over in the real world is becoming more and more a reality and the next few frontier years are going to be really exciting. The possibilities are endless and impact on our lives can only be positive.

An Upfront Look at U.S. TV Audiences and Trends

Found some interesting stats in the State of the Media: Trends in TV Viewing- TV Upfronts 2011 report from Nielson. With the 2011 TV Upfront meetings between TV studios and advertisers in full swing, Nielsen takes a look at emerging trends in TV viewing. Here’s the salient points:

  • Timeshifting continues to be a significant factor in how consumers watch TV. In fact, 38 percent of all TV households in the U.S. have a DVR
  • Mobile Video viewing has increased 41 percent from last year. The heaviest users of mobile video are teens ages 12-17 who watch 7 hours 13 minutes of mobile video a month
  • Viewing video online also continues to increase. In January 2011 143.9 million Americans viewed video online
  • The TV audience for sports is expanding. Record numbers of African Americans, Hispanics and female viewers helped drive the Super Bowl’s audience growth
  • The audience overlap between visitors to network and broadcast media sites and social networking & blog sites is significant. In January 2011 alone, 49 percent of social networking & blog site visitors also visited TV network and broadcast media sites
  • Television advertising spend was the largest medium for all ad spending in 2010, accounting for $69 billion.

    For more information on these TV viewing trends, download State of the Media: Trends in TV Viewing- TV Upfronts 2011

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