Nov 27, 2012

How to get best books for presents

The best way to get the books you want as Christmas presents is to order those yourself. The problem normally with that approach is that, you don't get to feel the surprise effect when opening your presents.

I've done so, that I order books for myself more than a month early for Christmas. Then I hide all the data about those books from my regularly used viewers as Gmail and GoodReads. When I receive the books I don't open those at all, but wrap those to gift papers.

Voila! I have forgotten what books I did order and I do get the best and most suitable books for me as Christmas presents. Also I get to feel the surprise effect.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Nov 22, 2012

Book Review - Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is an excellent book. It's a perfect view to today's knowledge on people's behavior, decision making, rationality, economics and many more sides of human behavior. Author, Daniel Kahneman  is a Nobel prize winner on his work on economical psychology. He might be the best person in the world to tell about human behavior and it flaws on decision making.

This book is a really comprehensive view to everything around decision making and rationality. It looks the subject via so many points of view that it is bit exhausting. As an admired scientist he explains everything thoroughly and wants readers to understand the science behind each theory. This is both refreshing and laborious. I did appreciate, that backgrounds of each theory was explained to me, but sometimes it required an excellent concentration to really understand all that theory.

This is not an easy book to read. I don't recommend this to people who haven't ever read anything with a psychological view point. It is easier to read this, if you know at least something on human behavior. This book goes so much deeper on many theories that all the background information is useful.

I found the whole book really interesting, but professionally most interesting parts were about estimating, probabilities and flaws on those. Estimating in SW industry has been such a hot potato for a long time. This book gives one brilliant view from psychological view point, why we are so bad at estimating. Maybe there would be something to learn to all SW people in this book also.

As said, book digs deep to so many different areas, that there's no point on opening all of those up in here. If you are interested in human behavior in economic or decision making sense, you shouldn't miss this book. It is important book on that area. The most important I've read so far.

Even though Daniel Kahneman is a scientist, he writes in quite interesting way. Book is not hard to read for its text, but because it's so full of important insights. For a non native English speaker though, as I am, it was sometimes bit hard to follow. Still I got on track with some recaps. Reading this does take time, but it is worth every second.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Nov 20, 2012

Who would pay for the news paywall?

Paywall discussion has really got off in Finland when today our largest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat started a paywall on their site. It's a loose paywall, with offers 5 weekly views if you hit the site directly, if you come there via Facebook or Twitter it is always available. In addition there's already published many different ways to go round the paywall on other ways.

I don't think it matters whether breaking the paywall is easy or hard, it will always be the minority who go round the paywalls anyway. There are many different kind of paywalls out there, but in this blog post, I'm discussing about the free visits per time type of paywalls.

What wonders me the most in paywalls is, that what is the target group for those? It can not be the casual users, since they do get to see the content anyways and prices are much too high to pay for a few articles the don't. Also it can't be the active social media users, since they get their news from free sources or know how to go round the paywalls easily. So it must be the most loyal customers who are already paying for the printed news. That's how you reward your customers.

The first big paywall of NY Times have been recorded as success, but there's dark clouds on top of its success story. NYT stock price dived with 3Q results when it was notified that ad revenues had dropped substantially. Also there's a doubt out there that many of the users of paid service have received huge discounts for the service. The default price is 15$ for month, but according to some stories there has been huge discounts all the time available and the actual prices have been closer to 1$ per month. There's no real evidence on either price. And then, let's be honest, NYT is a special kind of news house in the world. There's only couple of that big and famous who really has the capacity and the brand to produce such a unique stuff that people would be willing to pay for.

The word about our local paywall debate. Helsingin Sanomat offers free access to their content via Facebook and Twitter. That means that basically only the people who actually go to their site for news are the ones who are affected. Not to be rude, but it is only the loyal and stupid user who will end up paying for the service. Maybe I'm a special kind of web wanderer, but I rarely hit for any sites for news. I rely on news feed services and social media to gather the information for me.

In the long run I believe sites with paywalls will lose their customer bases. The main question then is, that can the paying customers fill the gap in lost ad revenue. I don't believe so, but I'm not the one who have estimated the business case for these ones.

People certainly are willing to pay for media. People have learned to pay for sport and movie channels. People pay for music and books still after digitalization. Paying for media content as such is not the problem. The experience is. How an website could be good enough experience to be paid for. Books, magazines and newspapers have the physical experience with them. Music and video will evoke feelings in everyone. So what is the experience daily news could awake? Maybe the tabs will save the news industry?

My bet is that visits per time based paywalls will not be viable solution in the long run for the daily news. It might be for really specific niche areas that any other medias are not reporting at. Default for the web is free, to pay for, there must be really excellent experiences available. For now I haven't seen any with news services.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Nov 14, 2012

Mind wandering and happiness

I watched this nice TED talk about mind wandering and happiness. I actually got bit surprised on it's message. It suggests that people are happier when they are focused and don't let the mind wander.

It is a bit counterintuitive, but then on the other hand books like Flow and Drive tells exactly about those things. And I've noticed the same on myself, I'm lot happier, when I have things to focus on and I keep on doing things. When I start wander, time slows down and I'm bored quite soon.

It's refreshing to watch, so please check it out.

Matt Killingsworth's TED talk:

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Nov 1, 2012

Why incompetent people succeed?

Everyone knows at least few of these people. They seem very incompetent on what they do, but still they seem to progress on their career all the time. They might do things totally opposite to your own thinking and it often seems that they don't get lot of things done. So how on earth they then succeed and get promotions and new jobs?

Competence is subjective. The ones who are competent on technical stuff often see that there are incompetent managers flying around in the organizations. That might be absolutely true, they might be quite incompetent on their technical skills. On the other hand they might have some other skill that is such a good one that is tackles the incompetence in tech stuff.

Another aspect of incompetence is priority. I have been always in RnD organizations, so I still the think the world from RnD focus. I sometimes see people, who don't understand products and processes to create products, as incompetent to do almost any job in organizations. Then when I'm surrounded with people from sales background, they don't see RnD to be that important, if important at all. They think that sales is the thing that keeps companies alive, not great products.

Point of view to the organizational success determines persons priority and priority often has a direct effect on quality of doing. Those who don't think marketing material is a key to companies success, often are quite poor to help on doing those. And therefore they might look to be incompetent when you are working with them.

Surely there are differences in skills with all people. Some are not as quick learners than others and some just can't see the big picture or can't understand the details. The main thing there is, that when thinking someone as incompetent, I've started to think about the strengths of the person. There must have been some skills that have brought her there. Then observing the person more closely, there almost always have been some things that she is such a good at that it overrules the other incompetences.

It's always better to try to learn from others than just envying what they have achieved. It is hard. Everyone has the little beast inside trying to say bad things about others to yourself. Just stay strong and fight back.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen