Skip to main content

What Story Do I Want to Tell

This week’s articles comes first in all kinds of direction. It read about what is needed to build creative society; how to make good infographic; important concepts in psychology effects useful for consumer marketing and what role machine is to us. 

On Monday, I came across an article listing out the 5 problems China needs to improve to become a “creative economy”
Encourage creativity: the past year seen the new regulation on vehicle hiring; it is now required that the driver must have a local Hu Kou and driving license, the vehicle has to have minimum wheel base of 2700mm, or if it is a 5-seat van minimum gas displacement of 2.0L; if it is 7-seat van minimum gas displacement of 2.0L, minimum wheel base of 3,000mm and minimum vehicle length of 5,100mm;
Per statistics from Di Di Taxi, only 20% of the vehicle currently operate on the vehicle sharing platforms and less than 10K drivers meets this requirement.
This reminds me of 2014 in which QR code payment was forbidden due to “security reasons”. Although at the end Alipay did not seen to comply, but it had also officially announced that Alipay is now “not following the government requirement”, government does not support such activities and stopped smaller companies that are not so capital rich and dare to invest and innovate on QR payments.
There are numerous examples that shows the patterns. “This is not my fault, I’ve told you to stop doing it. You may keep doing it because now it can be too costly for me to stop you but if you scrum up, I’ll do everything to kill the industry and it is all legitimate and right since I’ve made my position clear long time ago”. There are better approach to the same issue such as leveraging on industry expert to isolate the problem, invest and support companies working to improve the weak points that better encourage creativity
Improve core technologies: China improve 13.7% of all integrated circuit, costing the country US$230 billion in 2015; 90% of the computer and smartphone CPU are controlled by foreign companies.
Looking at data from World Top Electronics Importer 2015, the number is staggering: China imports a total of US$431.6 billion (and if add Hong Kong $US701.2 billion), which equal to the sum of United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Japan and South Korea. It is US$98.7 billion more than United States which is the second largest importer globally.
These numbers reflect the fact that technologies in China cannot meet the global standards, and thus it needs import to support manufacturing and consumption.
Boost creativity conversion: incremental innovation (take existing technology and make further improvement) has been the main innovation on China market. Industry innovation conversion rate is only 15%, much lower than developed countries (30%).  
Train and support creative personnel: out of the 7 million college graduates, 40% of them cannot find a job due to the un-matching skills;  
Inforce IT protection: only 10% of all IP infringement cases are discovered and trailed

All in all, it looks like a real mess: we kill creativities at when we do, we make it so rigid that it gets to the media, in a very negative way, the more the government try to explain, the worse the society feels. And the people that suffers live in the society, it is much easier for them to convince their neighbors, families and friends than some government officials that sits in front of the microphones to give a prepared speech. But we keep doing that.

When our creativities sometime produce results, we don’t utilize them well, so creators are not compensated in the way they expect (the society does not benefit from the creativity; neither do they make money from it). Worse still, their results may be stolen, but there is little support they get to protect themselves.

While two key reasons we don’t utilize them are that we do not have the material and human resources cheap and abundant enough for us to do it. 

Funny enough this is not the first time last week I saw this pattern, Sunday I was working with my Uncle on a project he has on exoskeleton, and we were talking about how to create a community of stroke patents that bring together physical therapists, patients, hospital, service providers and match the needs and resources in a more efficient way so the limited resources can be used to provide more benefits. 

And we observe that the society faces similar challenges, bad services and outdated equipments arouse negative attitude from the society towards doctors and hospitals; media picks up purely on the tragedies and use the most expressive words to make it look it is large scale event (I still can remember the strong feeling of sadness when I read sentences like “… such event is just one of a million out there in the industry of …”, this generalization is nothing but the trick journalists use to make their story meaningful but it hurt so many that have done nothing wrong; they cannot even give you 5 cases without engaging in days of research).

Talented physical therapists are handicapped due to lack of equipments and facilities; not enough physical therapists are there on the market which is prevailed by un-trained nursing assistants.

I would say that in both cases, let’s pick the low hanging fruit and stay low-profile for as long as we can. For stroke cases start from a small community and just give support; as the platform gets bigger involve other companies while myself remain a neutral position. The society is deeply routed into the mindset of ourselves as victims of suffering and unfairness, as business, we can’t bare to openly advocate for the goodness and still make money because we all make mistakes.
From time to time I am doing presentations to demonstrate market research, competitor benchmarking results, and user test results. I’m always interested to understand how to use graphics to better tell my story.

Yes, tell my story. A diagram exists to tell a story, if the information is not aligned with the storyline, remove it from the article. Any statistics means absolutely nothing without a story, you think big data is over-whelming, well it is simply using data to allow us to verify our story and put the right story to serve the market. More data provides content to tell a new story, or fill in some gaps, or give a new perspective to existing stories, or it raise the question on how findings can be applied to other sectors.

So this article about the key principles on data visualization is particular inspiring because it prompt me to ask the question about how it can be applied to user interface design.

To summarize, there are some Do’s and Don’ts:
  • Do use graphics as the post summary
  • Do use double titles (Main title conveys key message; sub-title introduces background)
  • Do use bar chart if you have many similar data together
  • Do use horizontal charts to save space
  • Do use annotation and mark numbers
  • Do use your watermark on the graphics
  • Don’t suffocate the readers with graphics
  • Don’t use fancy colors and animations, keep simple
  • Don’t use map if the data is complex
  • Don’t use color to show distance when the distance between numbers are not categorical
The Do’s can be further summarized to:  give just enough information to enable action and use consistent design to “brand” a solution. The Don’ts can be further summarized to:  minimum visual distraction and apply the most straight forward instead of very subtle clues.

The takeaway from this article will be I will take my current design on the Chatbot I am working on and remove all unnecessary parts. I know the concept of enough information is tricky, but we can always start with the barebones and then add up when we find missing certain information would hinder the action.   

In the past week, I completed 3 chapters on the book called “Herd: How to Change Mass Behavior By Harnessing Our True Nature" by Mark Earls, it talked about the fact that individuals act before think; many activities are taken based on physical or muscle memories; and our memories are not reliable. It also went on to discuss that gathering culture (China; Ubuntu etc) are drastically different from hunting culture (UK, Italy etc) in the sense that the first value group and system while the second emphasize on individual and results. 

Hypnotic Effect: hypnotic refers to “induce sleep”; here, it is used to describe that individuals in a crowd become subject to a sort of collective suggest ability which makes them prone to the influence of madmen, characteristic leaders and other members of the crowd.

Esther Inglis-Arkell stated that a person in a hypnotic state will appear tuned-out, and one of the marks of true hypnosis is a decrease in involuntary eye movement to the point where deeply hypnotized people will have to be reminded to blink. This gives an observer the impression that the hypnotized aren't paying attention. In fact, they're playing hyper-attention. Compared to a resting brain, many areas come online when a person is put into a hypnotic trance. All the areas that flare to life during hypnosis are also engaged when a person is concentrating on mental imagery — except one. Like many areas of the brain, the precuneus lights up during many different tasks, all of them having to do with a consciousness of self. It also deals with visuospatial aspects of the brain, letting us know where we are in space.

The use of hypnotic effect in marketing works in similar ways as it is in psychology; using trigger words to erect people to do certain things. Bnonn Kissmetrics talked about 3 magical words that help create the magic:
  • Imagine: this word brings down people’s guidance, because imagining is not a “real” task, I am not trying to ask you to buy something I am just asking you to imagine. And since the brain literally cannot tell the difference between imagining reality, and actually experiencing reality, the act of imagining implants the needs into the consumer’s brain, getting them to feel a sense of ownership in them. And thus, as if you have already given it to them. And the natural thing to do then is to keep it…which means making the purchase
  • You: it is not the word you but what it represents, your name; nevertheless, directly quoting the real name of the consumer in e-Newsletters and promotional material does not work and sometimes can even looks creepy; while using the word “You” is just right 
  • Because: this word is the key to open others mind, as human being, we all crave for cause and effect, and we turn to agree when we spot the word “because”. For small requests, “because” helps short-circuit the process and trick the mind as if a real reason has been given; for big requests (and make a purchase among them), it gives you the stage to convince the consumers and if you are able to give a good reason, you’re in.

Libet Experiment: it comes from a sequence of experiments performed by neurologist Benjamin Libet to show that human free will does not exist. Libet measured the time between when the subject becomes consciously aware of the decision to move the finger. He found although conscious awareness of the decision preceded the subject’s finger motion by only 200 milliseconds, the rise in the Type II readiness potential was clearly visible at about 550 milliseconds before the flex of the wrist. The subject showed unconscious activity to flex about 350 milliseconds before reporting conscious awareness of the decision to flex (the red arrow above). Indeed an earlier slow and very slight rise in the readiness potential can be seen as early as 1.5 seconds before the action.

Main critiques of the experiement argue that the kinds of deliberative and evaluative processes that are important for free will involve longer time periods than those studied by Benjamin Libet; and that flex the finger is just one type of activity which cannot represent all situations.

Another interesting article came on Friday that talked about where machine learning is at the moment and what it can assist humans with its current capabilities. Moravec's paradox: the unique high intelligence such as critical thinking and reasoning only requires little computing power while un-conscious skills and instinct requires much more effort. Machine learning, although using the word learn, is not learning in the same way humans learn. Currently, most machine learning is based on connection while most human learning is symbolists. Also, machine learning needs end-to-end sample data which is hard to obtain in some cases. 

It went on to talk about a very important concept, marking decision is not the responsibility of a shopping assistant, giving options and information that can help users make the decision is. And executing the activities after the decision is made is as well. This idea reminds me of what apostle Paul contrasted as the “outward man” (who is decaying) and the “inward man” (who is “being renewed day by day”) (2 Corinthians 4:167–10).  And that “without the soul (or spirit) the body becomes a corpse. In the words of the apostle James: “. . . the body without the spirit is dead . . .” (James 2:26). While our body may be replaceable with machines, it looks like we still hold the soul.

Smart assistant is the enabler, the extension of us as flesh and blood and logics, but it is not, at least for the moment, and maybe forever, the means for human to follow and consult. Again it brought me to think how it can be used in building the stroke community, to inquire information and to provide options etc. But not to suggest what recovery plan to utilize or training equipment to use. 

Amazingly, at the end of the week, these articles are all connected and can be summarized into one sentence: we live on stories, the storytelling techniques that we use to perceive the world, make decisions and rationalize ourselves are generalizable in some cases but in many other cases individual. Nevertheless, we don’t need all the techniques for the purpose we want to achieve, in other words, we just need to practices several tricks (some to encourage a behavior and some to discourage) and stay away from the rest.

央行紧急暂停二维码支付 多家O2O公司被波及
Top Electronics Importers 2015

研究上千张数据图表后 我学到12条可视化的秘密准则

Google’s UX HEART framework: how to collect user-centered metrics with prototypes



The Emotion Machine: Common Thinking, Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Human Mind

What Makes Us Human and why It is Not the Brain: Soul

Popular posts from this blog

4 Techniques to Make Your UX Review Meetings Successful

As a product manager, I often need to sit down with the executive management team to get their feedback on the new designs. It can be a frustrating process and many times I found that I cannot get things down in the time I am allowed to have.
Nevertheless, not having the sign-off from management is terrible for the team, we face high risk of having to re-work (yes, we always need to re-work, but it feels better if it is an improvement), schedule get delayed etc.
Over my 200+ review meetings, i've came to understand the reasons and learnt skills on how to stir the meeting towards an efficient completion, and I want to share them with you.
There are 4 key reasons of an unsuccessful product review meeting: 
1. Audience Lack the Background Knowledge: especially when introducing a new function, executives don’t know what they are looking at, or how the end users will be using such function, you may have sent the presentation before and again in the meeting invite, it doesn’t matter;

2. T…

What Changes will Machines Bring to us - As Employees

Machine learning to the employment has been a topic in debate. Darrell West, in his paper titled "What happens if robots take the jobs? The impact of emerging technologies on employment and public policy” suggested a list of actions government should take to ensure people whose job has been replaced by machines can live a decent live. The general sentiment seems to suggest a turbulent era as work force transform.

Growing up in China during the time of State owned enterprise reform, I had real experience living through the time of large group of people being laid off because the jobs were suddenly gone. My parent’s generation had to learn new skills for a completely new industry at their 40s and 50s. Few of them made it and even became millionaire, many of them didn’t and the family suffered a lot. I followed the news of Detroit Car manufacturing industry lapse and it shows familiar traits. The fact is, jobs come and go all the time, employee as a group will constantly adapt while …

21 Tops on How to Write a Successful Blog

Hubspot and General Assembly came together to offer a 10 week planner for successful blog. The type of blog discussed in this plan are corporate blogs used to bring people to the site and explore what the company is doing, potentially generate a lead.

Identify Your Target Persona: talk to sales team and research contract dataStart Building Evergreen Content: start with evergreen contents that stay relevant though time; do keyword search to see what people are searchingChoose the Right Content Management Tool: a good tool is easy to use and allow users to track metrics such as conversion rate, page view, and where traffic come fromDesign Your Blog: consistent layout; Focus on Your Content Strategy: basically it is depending on what you wantSet Subscriber Path: there needs to be a workflow for emailing the subscriber, a subscription form and an unsubscribe form. Hubspot is towards the "don’t email your subscribers too often” group while I also heard UI Breakfast Jane Portman talked …