Tag Archives: book

9 things I’m thankful for this month: tech, reading and family

30 Nov

As November comes to a close, here is a wrap-up of good things I discovered this month and told all my friends and family about, especially during Thanksgiving weekend. They’ve heard enough, so now I’m sharing it here. 🙂 

1.The little keyboard I bought for my ipad turned it into a netbook for under $40 – if we don’t factor in the money I spent on the iPad mini a couple of years ago. My accountant friend told me it’s a “sunk cost,” so I’m correct in saying this was a great deal. Not to hype it up too much or anything, but I do think I’m onto a new trend of switching out bulky laptops for lighter tablet/keyboard combos. At least when traveling, anyway.

ipad mini with keyboard

My ipad looks like a netbook with it’s keyboard case

2. I created a Contently profile a couple of weeks ago (https://daniellebrody.contently.com/). It presents all my clips visually, plus it tabulated all these numbers of shares each article got which I didn’t even know happened. Not only did it make me feel more popular, but their Freelancer articles make me feel less alone. Like in one, someone mentioned how they write stories at home in their PJs. Not that I do that or anything…

3. Evernote. This goes along with my iPad happiness. I type my notes on Evernote and start writing my blog post right there on the train. At home I go on to my laptop, sign on to Evernote, and I pick up where I left off. Thank you cloud.

4. Wearables! Ok, I don’t actually own any techie wearables yet, but I keep reading about them, hearing talk about them and have seen plenty of startups getting in on the space. There’s just so much potential! Especially for health and prevention.

Of course I see potential for getting obsessed with tracking our body data, but we all learn our boundaries with new technology. (RIP crackberries) And information breaches. The fact that technology keeps getting closer and closer to our bodies does make me a little wary. Once we all start wearing these watches, the only barrier is our skin, which leads me to believe in 50 years we’ll actually be comfortable putting tech into our bodies.

(Cicret may be the first real transition to that, have you seen it?! http://www.cicret.com/wordpress/)

I think I’ll be ready to purchase a wearable in a few months. I’m less of an early adopter and more of a researcher (like I’ve looked at this: http://readwrite.com/2014/11/27/wearable-smartwatch-holiday-gift-guide-2014) when it comes to buying new technology.

Any recommendations on great wearables?

5. IBM Watson. I went to two events in the past few weeks where Watson, known to many as IBM’s Jeopardy king, has come up with recipes that I got to eat. I bet you didn’t know Watson creates recipes based on the science of what combinations taste good. Being that he’s an information-packed computer, it’s not a surprise. At Uncubed on Nov. 14, IBM served Watson-created trail mix and truffle oil rosemary infused popcorn. Watson is all brains though, meaning he doesn’t actually cook. So I kind of want my own Watson, but I think I could survive with a low-tech version (below), or the Internet until he goes mainstream.


6. Finding the book What Should I Do With My Life. This book stood out to me at a library book sale because I’m ruminating over that question. I know what you’re thinking – recent grad book bait. That may be true of the book I Just Graduated…Now What, which, side note, I started reading and was disappointed. How can I relate to Katherine Schwarzenegger, who nonchalantly writes about interning at CNN, co-hosting with Anderson Cooper and her mom giving the commencement speech?! Anyway…the book I’m reading now is for the commoner and written by one too. I happen to be about 12 years late on this best-seller since it was published in 2002. I’m glad it has a second life with me. I don’t quite have an answer to the question yet, but I’m loving reading about other people’s stories of how they found their calling.

7. If you haven’t heard about it by now, Serial, is awesome. It’s a podcast that digs deep into one 1999 murder case. Listening to a story, not watching, strips away distractions and allows me to focus on the narration and hear nuances in all of the characters’ voices, which is how real detectives investigate a crime. The medium of the story is kind of raw, but has also been well-produced, making it totally captivating.

8. Thanksgiving! I had a wonderful day cooking with my family and then eating, of course. I had to include a few pictures.

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9. In the same vein, I’m thankful for friends, family and followers! When I was in high school, I started the school’s first blog, Edgeonline. This was 2009. Blogging had been a bit taboo and it was extremely difficult to get people on board. A lot has changed in the past five years. Now having a blog is normal, but still, the support means a lot.

If you’re into any of these things or want to talk about them more, reach out or leave a comment! I love to chat.



Recaps: Two days of talks with Hooked author Nir Eyal

18 Nov

Nir Eyal, an entrepreneur, designer and author, has been on the event circuit since the release of his new book Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products. I recently heard him speak two days in a row at Alley Boost and StartupGrind events. Below is a post that combining what he said at both events. I guess the next step should be reading his book…it’s on my list!


Nir speaks at Alley Boost event at Mercy College.

Did you know that 1 out of 3 Americans would rather give up sex than their smart phone? Technology has quickly become a pervasive – and intimate – part of our lives. If you’re a designer or an entrepreneur, then you probably are dying to know how technology becomes habit-forming. And if you’re just a consumer, knowing why we get hooked is the first step in breaking unhealthy attachments to tech.

Cue Nir Eyal, entrepreneur, designer and author of Hooked, which was recently released as a physical book that explores what entrepreneurs should build and why. Eyal has a background in gaming and advertising, which both involve some form of mind control. He had his own startup and he has consulted plenty of others.

“A lot of companies were using these [habit-forming] tactics and yet they didn’t really understand why these tactics work,” said Eyal. “They do it without understanding the deeper psychology on how and why these things change users’ behavior.”

Companies want to create products that customers won’t just love, but won’t be able to put down. These types of addictive technologies like our phones, email and apps have a hook so compelling, that we keep using them without anyone prompting us to come back. They become habit, which is a behavior done with little or no conscious thought. This accounts for what we do for about half our day.

There are four parts to the hook, Eyal said.

1. The trigger is something that tells the user what to do and cues the next action. It can be external or internal. Most of these internal triggers are negative – our pain points that we look to solve. We form habits with technologies that lift us out of these negative states, like loneliness or boredom.

When we are lonely we use Facebook. When we’re unsure we go to Google. When we’re bored there’s YouTube, Pinterest, ESPN, etc. Studies show that people suffering from depression check email more often.

2. The action is the simple behavior done in anticipation of a reward. Examples are scrolling, searching or hitting the play button. The formula, created by B.J. Fogg, for predicting the likelihood of these singular actions is behavior = motivation + ability + trigger.

6 factors that can increase motivation are seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, seeking hope, avoiding fear, seeking acceptance and avoiding rejection.  Every ad uses one or more of those levels of motivation.

6 factors that affect ability are  time, money, physical effort, brain cycles (how hard it is to understand correlates with likeliness of doing it), social deviance (see other people doing it), non-routine (you’re more likely to do it if you’ve done it before).

3. The reward: We like variability; the uncertainty makes returning to the technology exciting. An example is the newsfeed, it’s always different.

4. The investment: The product should have a return on the investment because users put something into it in anticipation of a future benefit. Investments increase the likelihood of passing through the hook. Example – if you send a message on WhatsApp, you’ll get one back. Habit-forming technology should improve or appreciate rather than depreciate over time. Another type of investment is building a reputation or a following, like on Task Rabbit, Ebay or AirBnB. It’s hard to leave that platform once you have value on it.

While all this information has value for designers, changing someone’s behavior to meet our own ends, is a form of manipulation, said Eyal. He believes companies should practice social responsibility and use the psychology of the hook to make products that are good for us.

At Startupgrind, Eyal answered my Twitter question and I had 5 seconds of fame…within the event:

He handled the cynicism well, and said the emotions we want to manage don’t change, the technology and interface do. He predicts n a few years wearable technology, like Google Glass and smart watches will be the next big thing.

At the same time he’s teaching the hook, Eyal calls himself an advocate for breaking hooks. You can use the information to break habits and build good ones, he said. In the future, being able to control our habits will be a competitive advantage, said Eyal.

Maybe he’s saying we swap the juice cleanses and do the digital detox to prep for 2015? Maybe I’ll wait til 2016…Eyal’s “future” has no deadline. 🙂