The HBR June issue has an article
(requires subscription) by John Gourville which is one of the firstI've read to explain so clearly the issues behind the psychology ofadopting new products. I take this to mean not just products but alsoservices from any organization.
In summary, the idea was raised by the Nobel-prize winning psychologistDaniel Kahneman that explores why people deviate from rational economicbehavior. This combined with other work, on how individuals valuechoices in the marketplace, define the basis on how people handle theintroduction of a new product or service.
The four behaviors that arise are: people evaluate new product asalternatives, based on perceived value rather than subjective value;they consider new products relative to points of reference to existingones; they view such references as benefits/gains orshortcomings/losses; and finally, the most important behavior
, losses have a far greater impact than gains.
This leads to the endowment effect
whichthe author reports as the behavior where people hold things theyalready have in much greater value than those they don't. In fact, itleads to a multiplying effect in the market where consumers value theirexisting holdings as three times more valuable, while organizationswith new ideas/products value their own holdings as three times asvaluable. Thus, to convince consumers to change from the old to the newproduct may require up to nine times
the improvements over the older product. As the author explains, AndyGrove of Intel has held the belief that an innovaion that can transformthe industry rapidly needs to offer a 10x improvement over existingalternatives. (I know my Sharp Aquos HDTV doesn't quite reach thathigh, but I still like the switch over from my 25" inch Sony tuber :)
The author continues by giving several categories of probability: the Sure Failure,
the Easy Sell,
the Long Hauls
, and the Smash Hits.
AnEasy Sell indicates limited (small) changes to the existing product andlimited changes to the behavior necessary. A Smal Hit has significantchanges to the product but only limited changes to the behavior.
I strongly suggest you pick up a copy of the HBR
to understand the full extent of this article.
This has direct impact on any new technology, a topic of constant focusfor us at dW. Every company wants the smash hit, but for many it ismore by accident than on purpose. However, often they focus onimprovements to products based on what they think is important, andduring the product development stage do not really consider the factorsof user adoption behavior because it is so hard to measure. I've comeacross so many cases where the technology is considered quite advancedby the technical team that develops, supported by surveys of groups ofthe bleeding edge customers who are already raring to use it; but, theyfall short when they call out to the general market which issignificantly slower to adopt the idea.
In fact, in some cases, the improvements are just not enough (per theabove marketing theory). In other cases, the perceived value of theproduct is just conveyed either adequately to the consumers, or by the right influencers
who can change perception.
Ittakes the right mix of technical know-how, eloquence, stubbornness,ingenuity, and charm to find the proper evangelists for a project. Butfirst you need to be able to find those who are fans of the idea in thefirst place (goes back to my other thought on building a fan-base); theevangelist themselves must be a convinced fan, or others willeventually consider them a sham.
This theory applies to the tens or hundreds of thousands of newprojects that start up on the internet. A product manager needs toconsider if the product falls into the win category of Smash Hit
or will be a Long Haul
sell as much as the innovation of the product itself. This meansunderstanding the user behavior and need for the product in the firstplace. The difficulty lies in quantifying the improvements.
In some cases, you can do it by this process:
- get a sample population of an existing alternative to the product
- investigate what part of the product they utilize the most, which has the biggest impact, or which causes the most pain
- measure how much of the time or effort is spent by users on those elements
- consider what, if any, improvements the new product has to those impacting elements of the old
- if the product improves the time- or effort-consumed for that element, measure how much it does so
- Consider this improvement versus the type of win you could get
Easy to say all this; hard to carry it out.
The impact of the endowment effect
is the old adage: people fear change
.It's not fear per-se, but more inertia. To overcome the inertia, youneed to change perceptions. To grow customers and fans, you need tobuild the audience and community around the idea, to build up momentumof understanding and acceptance to overcome this inertia. (I mentionthat this is a crucial second step of the Open Source business model
My friend John--also known as Action Figure John
but that's a different story--brought by the most expensive coffee I'd never heard of until then. This coffee is so hard to produce that I doubt Starbuck's or Peet's could ever list it on their boards.
Jamaican Blue Mountain, you say? Pshaw... that's middle class stuff... :)
Around $150 or more a pound for the roasted beans, this coffee has to be shipped directly from the plantation. It is the legendary Kopi Luwak
... and here's where the snickering begins.
This exotic coffee from Indonesia can only be found on plantations in Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi. Not only do they have to grow a good bean but it requires the assistance of Paradoxurus hermaphroditus
, the Palm Civet
(/snicker). This small mammal is common in many parts of South-East Asia and does the very important function of eating the raw red berries, digesting them, and then pooping them out
! (/snicker /snicker) The enzymes from the digestive tract apparently help to break down some of the bitter proteins. The happily fed mammal then walks away to eat another day. Farmers collect the beans and give it a light roast, then vacuum pack it and ship it to coffee extremists worldwide. John ordered it from AnimalCoffee.com
I just had to try this out, even though I'm not a coffee drinker myself.
For our afternoon of watching the Tivo'd new season episode of Battlestar Galactica
, John brought his pristinely packaged poo poo coffee, along with his shiny brass coffee pot and burner, which he uses to make Turkish/SE Mediterranean coffee (yes, the true gritty stuff).
John ground a handful of beans in his brand new matching brass hand-mill coffee grinder, since it gets smaller grains than an automatic mill. It takes about a good 5-10 minutes of grinding to get it that way though. Then with some fine drinking water for fewer impurities, boiled over a small alcohol stove, the coffee came out quite nicely.
Not being a coffee connoisseur--here's a link from someone who's more in tune with it
--allI could tell is that it was still a little bitter but had no harshness atall. It was strange to me but the others liked it.
He thinks we stillneed to refine how much coffee to water and how fine to grind it. Thegrit was not as fine as the Turkish coffee he usually drinks (about 2pots a day). But as you can see none of it went to waste, and people quite enjoyed it to the bottom. (/snicker)
Cyberspace, The Virtual World, The Matrix, Mainframe, ENCOM, etc. Now The Living Web.
For being part of a generation that has grown up with online games,books, stories and movies about virtual worlds and moving at the "speedof the Net", it seems like it is taking quite a bit of time to get tothe idea of having such a world in common use (and hopefully not adystopic vision like that in The Matrix). I get the feeling we arelooking so far ahead that we are not focusing on taking the stepsinvolved in getting there.
Most of the mainstream media (books & movies) still focus on the 3Dworld, because obviously it's cool to imagine an alternate reality thatyou can actually move around. Even games tend toward that directionbecause it is the environment that can more easily excite people. Theyall talk about having a persona that moves and interacts with thisworld and the other personas in it. In fact, in the Matrix, the worldis so real, it is the "real world" as we know it; it's only when youunderstand the actual world of the Matrix behind it that you can dointeresting things like defying gravity.
The truth is probably a little depressing. Most of the virtual worldthat we know as the Web is 2D; in fact, by just a guesstimate, I'd sayover 98% of all the info we have online is in text. I also think for along time to come, the virtual world will still be overwhelminglytext-based for decades to come. To get to that futuristic vision asportrayed in the media, a lot of work behind the scenes still needs tohappen.
Ten steps (not in order) to get to virtual worlds:
- Establish ubiquitous individual identities or online personas.
- Enable personas with actions they can do (e.g., create content, initiate contact/discover others, exchange information, etc.)
- Enable personas to categorize, aggregate, identify, mark or otherwise "control" the information around them (i.e. tagging)
- Define "homes" or bases where each persona exists and controls.
- Establish Reputations - enable rankings or ratings on personas, based on what others think of their interactions with them
- Allows personas to "move freely" across system boundaries, or export their personas or info about them
- Establish online economies (virtual valuation, and common exchange rates, around fixed not unlimited valuations)
- Establish domains and guidelines of how they operate (i.e., online "cities", and proper governance of these cities)
- Global accessiblity to the persona or personas you control, using any device
- Actual visualization of the personas, their homes and the domains they live in (yes 3D worlds)
These details are a little more mundane and most people would justprefer if someone else just created and provided it for them. In fact,I think there is already a trend towards this new kind of "hosting" ofonline personas, and not just Web pages. Even the idea of blogggingfits somewhere beyond a web home page but still before reaching acomplete persona.
Don't get me wrong: in limited areas, most of these properties alreadyexist. In particualr I'm talking about online games and MMORPGs.However, they are limited in the sense that they create a separatefictitious world that you have to apply your context to. In otherwords, yes, it's make believe, which is also why it is fun. Also theyare limited in the sense they exist almost entirely within their owndomain. You don't see characters moving outside a game like Everquestand moving onto World of Warcraft; or even any reason or correlation todo so.
In terms of people and businesses however, the information is real (notartifically created to role-play) and pervasive across wherever you go.The good news is that some of these items are already starting tohappen, as you can see per what Newsweek describes as The Living Web.What's more, these personas are a limited thing. My belief is thatpeople in general do not want to have to maintain multiple personas,for the same reason, people do not really want to have to keep track ofmultiple email accounts.
So there you have it. There's much work to do in the middle to get to pervasive virtual worlds.
The Webcast on Social Networking and Software as a Service is available for playback
. It has a free registration link there.
I also did a developerWorks podcast
in that same week, and the feature article
on our main site, all about what we are doing with creating communities with Web 2.0.
The Economist issue from last week has an 18-page in depth section on how people and organizations are evolving in the face of globalization, online Web 2.0 technologies, and changing ideas on organizing teams. This is one of the best articles I have seen on the subject (even better than Friedman's "The World is Flat")
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The folks over at The Community Roundtable have released a new report on The State of Community Management
which I thought was quite good.
A key takeaway from this report that I find quite revealing: it contradicts the common belief that all communities develop into a 90-9-1 rule (90% lurkers, 9% contributors, 1% authors). Per the report: “As the community management discipline matures, there is increasing understanding of where certain rules of thumb like this apply and where they do not.” I've once looked at the origins of this meme, and other than the Pareto principle, in online communities it dates back to specific posts in a Usenet newsgroup around the early 1990s. I need to find that link again. We now think of much more than just contributors and lurkers since there are many other ways to contribute as well which are not so obvious. That is a distinguishing mark that elevates the level of insight that this report brings above others.
What thrills me is that of the eight competency areas within, only on area focuses on tools. The majority of the focus lies in business principles: strategy, leadership, culture, policies, etc. The general media and blogosphere is always fascinated with new tools and toys but the real value is in understanding the almost unchanging business principles many of which are outlined in the list of competences. Each of the sections on these competencies specifically identifies lessons learned directly from the real life experience of members of The Community Roundtable.
I've talked before about the value that community managers bring to organizations,
so I have to point out a specific section the role and issues of Community Management which can help current organizations understand the heavy demands of this role. Perhaps, with this insight, more organizations will take to heart that Community Management is not a part time, or a junior role in the organization. It takes a lot of people and relationship skills that develop with experience, and in doing so creates the same qualities we ask of our business leaders.
Our technical briefings team is hosting a special event in September; actually two of them in the US, one in Raleigh, North Carolina, and another in Austin Texas. It's a free event, and the idea is to get a lot of thought going on around the topic of putting Web 2.0 into action in the workplace, in a more general way, beyond just startups and special projects.
Here's the info on the event:
Join us for a special event to learn how you can start bringing Web 2.0 into your organization, or as we say, 'Take Web 2.0 to Work.' During this day-long technology event from IBM, you'll see demos of the hottest technologies and participate in interactive breakout sessions - a large part of the content will be driven by you and the other attendees as we go along! The day will be full of live demos and true attendee participation!
You can register for this no cost conference today at: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/offers/techbriefings/details/web20.html
Raleigh, NC (September 12, 2007)
Austin, TX (September 18, 2007)
During the day, you'll not only hear from IBM Execs like Rod Smith, IBM Software Group, VP of Emerging Technologies and David Barnes, Program Director, Emerging Internet Technologies, IBM Software Strategy based out of Austin, TX, but also rub shoulders with other developers in your community, IBM's key system architects, developers and researchers from our R&D labs and some of the lead developers that created Lotus Connections. There will be plenty of time to dive deep into several different topic areas in breakout sessions including:
Collaboration (Social Networking applied to the Enterprise)
Application Creation (join in the creation of mashups and wikis)
Information Technology (see new ways to unlock information using emerging technologies like "Many Eyes")
The day will be heavy with demos and conversation, not slideware. Please join us on our conference Wiki to give suggestions on what subjects you would like to see and hear about, prior to the event at: http://www-03.ibm.com/developerworks/wikis/display/web20work/
The day-long conference will close with a discussion focused on not only where we've been and where we're going, but also on what you can do to start bringing Web 2.0 into your organization.
With our shift towards the more social interaction of Web 2.0, we're currently trying to figure out what makes sense in terms of defining topics and taxonomies in developerWorks.
We already have an internal taxonomy which is used as a table of data in things like our search boxes (see the choices for "topics").
Now we are tackling the issues of how do we build a new taxonomy-like structure that also allows community members to contribute. This is very much in the folksonomy
concept in sites like: del.icio.us
First, a quick review of things that contribute to complexity of these issues.
There are a number of faces of the same thing which I'll define to point out the differences:
- an item - a piece of content
- a topic - a specific area of content that may contain a number of separate content items brought together. It may contain other subtopics.
- a keyword - a term or abbreviation that has a definition. It is often used for search engines (a search term), glossaries (an entry), etc.
- a tag - similar to a topic however, rather a collection of content items, it is used as a marker or attribute to designate that a content item is of that topic
- a taxonomy - an organized or hierarchical layout of topics, keywords, or tags. An ontology is a similar concept.
In addition to these concepts, dW itself has some concepts we use regularly, primarily the zone
which covers a major topic that we want to publish information on. Thus a zone is a variant of a topic. We also have had "special topics" (smaller than a zone), an "area" (also smaller than a zone), a "station" (guess what: smaller than a zone). continued....
Continued from my previous post
As I said, we already have an internal taxonomy data structure that is used for our internal search engine, for categorizing our content, etc. It's crucial to keep this or things start going array when those tools are used. Each item in that taxonomy is used as a tag for marking items.
Now for dW Community, currently only the bloggers have their own "Category" tags, which are separate from the dW taxonomy. Because each blogger can create their own tags personally categorizing any of their posts, this can result in many variations of the same tag (same idea, different names), conflicts in the semantic usage of tags (different ideas, same name), and even ownership of those categories. Thus, you can think of these tags as having their own "individual scope" and exist in a different tag space than the full dW taxonomy.
Thus, there are now two scopes of tags: personal, and dW.
Next comes the issues with the big improvements coming in 2006. The plans for 2006 have been laid out but we haven't completely worked out the full tasks and implementation model. Hence, I haven't really described it yet... BUT it is coming and it will have a BIG impact in change! (we hope for the better in many ways)
So, with the new plan, we will start considering another scope of tags: those that span community-wide as a general folksonomy (see previous post).
In this scope, dW Community members can create a tag that exists in the public scope that anyone else can add, modify or even delete items from. This is where we start trusting our users to do what's best for themselves.
With any folksonomy there is potential for abuse and disaster when:
- picking a topic tag so big that it could contain a whole lot of other tags
- spamming into these tags
- malicious deletion of entries
Thus, a pure folksonomy can become total chaos if the facilities to backtrack, undo, alert, or generally administer those tags are not available.
Yet another way to do this is to introduce a new type of scoping. You still have a folksonomy, but you subdivide topics at a high level, and break them down into groups. Each group can have its own tags created by anyone in that group. It's folksonomy in limited scale and actually breaks the original idea some, but limits widespread chaos.
So thus the potential is that there may be a number of scopes: individual, group, dW, global
How do you refer to each of these scopes?
Globally-unique naming of each scope is usually enough.
I tend to markup the books I read. After a while, it just became easier to use those little 3M strip stickers and highlighters to index a book my way. I used to use different colored strips for different ideas: "hot idea", "case study", "problem point", etc. But eventually, I realized that it'd be easier to actually write specific words onto the strips. Guess what, I'm just doing something exactly the way I do online, but in a more primitive, and less easy-to-search way. I loose a lot of knowledge this way, or at least track of it.
So my wish here is that there would be some way how I could tag the content in any book I find into an online, searchable way, and perhaps share it with others. My thought is that there are several possibilities:
- Really lame way: copy the text, page, etc. and in the tagging/bookmarking software, create an entry with that description pointing to the place in the book. Cons: Is there any point to even talk about this?
- Magical semi-scanner tool: Some pen-like device that can scan text in a book and the position in the book, and then let me enter the tag for the text. There are some smart pens out there that digitize writing but this would also add in the requirement to be able to create a tag, and then publish that online. Cons: I don't know it such a device exists but its not impossible to build on top of something like Logitech's oi2 Digital Pen
- Ebooks with tagging support. I find some sort of ebook reading device that allows bookmarking/tagging to a general online tagging service, rather than "saved with a book". Cons: Not all books are available in e-books format, however, publishers are getting better about it. Still ebook reader devices need to be extended to allow the online tagging.
- Use online web-based books and find a way to tag. Similar to the ebooks approach but no special device, just a laptop or web-phone. Cons: Requires a browser device, and may need a live connection.
For 3 & 4, a side note: Safari
is still hanging on but it is has a good approach to online books. You pay a service fee to be able to "borrow" books from their online library and can swap out your bookshelf over time; just requires a regular fee.
I think the idea of ebooks is great in terms of technology like digital ink that requires really low power consumption and can run for many hours at a time, but I think the need to be able to correlate or search related information, tagging, color images, etc. all require a net conneciton and better graphics support. In other words, the device just becomes a browser anyway, and the worst you have to do is keep recharging the device.
Take the iPod Touch or iPhone example as a browser people actually want to use and has some degree of a readable screen (compared to other phones). I don't have one, but I think you'd be able to access books from Safari and have a way to tag information. Ebooks (e.g., Sony Portable Reader System
) have more screen real-estate, typically about the size of a paperback book. I think visually the iPod Touch
/iPhone is still a little small to read and chews power like candy, but it's much more capable in terms of enabling the reader or researcher.
Any ideas for other possible solutions?
In a discussion with erik_k of help.com
it seems apparent that tag-based communities are one of the premier forms of ad-hoc community building
Rather than a formal process to start a community, people create tags around what they are working on or are interested in and it matches the folksonomy of others with the same tags, and what they collectively post about it.
This form of tag-based community isn't unique to help.com; there are other sites like 43 Things
, etc. that all allow people to "bubble up" a community based on what they tag.
If people use the same keywords, they automatically become a collective or group of participants around the topic. With sites like Jeteye, you can create multiple types of content elements in each tag. Still others allow member of a shared tag to start a discussion area, etc.
This kind of ad-hoc process allows a population to rapidly organize and create communities around what they are working on. You can build quite a sizeable community this way if you have a general purpose site like help.com or del.icio.us.
The downside is that it can be chaotic and hard to track. Some tags get buried under others; there can be many, many tags that refer to the same thing but are disjoint, simply based on how you word the tag; there may not be a central or high-level navigation system. Finally, it's hard to "value" what one person creates over another.
The alternative is to have a formal community creation process and then build community tools around the created entity. This also has its weak points which primarily center around the fact that the process can become bureaucratic.
This isn't limited to just information, but also to other scenarios such as situational applications, where people get together to quickly prototype or build an application in a group setting. More on that later.
I was reading over the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts site the other day on The Myth of Thrusting versus Cutting swords
and What did historical swords weigh?
Both are excellent pieces from a european weapons background. The first describes the classic question of swordfighting on which attack style was more effective. European swords diverged early in the medieval period into war weapons and lighter weight day weapons, until the Rennaisance era espoused the benefits of a light thrusting point as the most effective in terms of speed. This light weapon which we today see in the rapier, epee and foil became the weapon of choice for the gentry; nothing as crude and barbaric as a heavy war weapon. In modern terms, it's the equivalent of arguing on if you are Heavy Truck Guy, or if you prefer nimble sports cars.
In terms of effectiveness, the thrust can be quite a damaging attack since it sinks deep, can puncture multiple layers of tissue and organs. It creates a small open wound (rather than the blood-splurting everywhere Quentin Tarantino/John Woo-sytle), but without modern medicine, a strike at the torso could easily become lethal. On the other hand, if you don't hit an important spot, the opponent is still there. This works great for gentlemenly duels but not very practical in actual combat.
The cut or slash takes more strength and physically takes a greater distance of sword travel to be effective, but if it didn't totally amputate something it would eviscerate the muscle and probably break the bones, essentially disabling that body part. You may need more strength with this but that depends upon your weapon's weight and fighting styles.
European heavy weapons were not generally huge and weighty but ranged around 3 pounds and certainly less than 6 pounds for most backswords, broadswords, and such. This is still more than most katanas that are around 2.5 pounds. Also the katana is primarily a two-handed weapon, thereby balancing the weight more evenly, whereas a 3lb backsword is still much heavier to carry on one hand, even 2.5 pounds.
I've never weighed my own primary katana precisely but it's probably about 2.5 lbs, maybe a little more. I do cut single handedly with that but it takes a lot more control with finer muscles. Two hands gives not only more strength but also more importantly better control of the weapon. While the first article talks about the katana being a very effective thrusting weapon, we primarily teach only a single type of thrust or tski
I was watching National Geographic Channel the other day, a show called Fight Science.
This was a really good show but when it came to the bit about the dynamics of swords, I was again disappointed by the poor technique they presented. The thrust for example was shown as an underhanded (rather than overhanded) one, and with the elbow even bent some. This technique simply ignores the skeletal structure, body positioning and only uses muscle to power the thrust. In other words, it takes more strength than necessary to be effective. Thus it would take an extremely fit 200 lb man to deliver the same blow as something a medium fit 100lb middle-schooler could do. (We have had both 300lb 26yr old football players and 80lb 15yr olds in our class, and they both can do almost the same level of attacks). One thing we tell our students is not to waste energy if you don't need to. All you need is one really good hit.
I was really impressed with their Kyudo (archery) demonstration in the show. I'm unranked in Kyudo since I never carried the practice very far, but it looked very serene. Yoga joke: After many hours of yoga practice in a full room, the one person that remains still standing on one leg tree-pose shouts out: "I AM THE SERENEST!" :)
Unfortunately the martial arts world is full of people with heavy egos. The dedicated ones feel slighted if you debate with them, but their intentions are still true: they want to interest and excite more people into their field of study. Even the own style I learn could do a lot more than focus on good cutting techniques. It could do well with more stamina building, more groundwork, more balance work, more disarms and trips, etc. All in good time and there's plenty to learn from. It should be interesting as we go to start an entirely new class/club at the U of Arizona this Fall.
Our martial arts school, the Kodenkan of Tucson is hosting the Ohana celebration this weekend. Over 600 Students and students of students of the late Prof. Okazaki who created Danzan-ryu Jiujitsu are gathering to celebrate his birthday.
Okazaki was an innovator of his time in the 1930s and 1940s, living in Hawaii. He was a practitioner of traditional Japanese homeopathic medicine but also started a martial arts school on the side and become one of the first Japanese to teach traditional martial arts to foreignors and to women. It was quite a differentiating at the time.
His innovation paid off. Today some his students are in their late 70s and 80s and have taken his teachings to form schools of their own across the US.
With any martial arts, the regular weekly practice helps to build strong ties between teachers and students. Once you get advanced enough, it is in the practice amongst equals that brings people together. The advanced (black belt) ranks operate more like an academy, learning from each other while in practice.
While the teacher-student element still exists (it's still a school), the cross-training between peers is what helps to energize and develop the study.
The same goes for pretty much most communities. You learn the basics--it can take years--and advance enough to consider new perspectives and situations, or help others with issues and problems they are facing.
Carry this on for a few years successfully and it will last a decade. Carry it on for a decade or two, and it will last for generations. You just have to carry on the philosophy of sharing and learning.
As I woke up this morning, there was more snow all around. Last night's snowing stopped after about an hour and melted but we got fresh snow early in the morning. Everything is till clouded over to the point that we can only see a mile away. Snow here happens maybe twice a decade but I've only seen this much snow in town once before. It's nothing by Minnesota standards but here it's probably the most snow in town in two decades.
Baby's first snow (okay, I 'm having more fun than he seems to be there :)
Okay, I take that back. We're not behind Stephen King. Right now it's #21, ahead of Jim Collins' Good to Great