Jan 31, 2011

Book I hope everyone reads: The genius in all of us

The Genius in All of Us was really a mind boggling experience. It challenges long list of believes on learning, personal capabilities and restrictions and impact of your heritage. Author David Shenk has unbelievably well explained these groundbreaking results of recent findings on genetics.

Idea behind the book is that genes don't affect as much as we commonly believe on our capabilities on doing or learning something. Common misconception is that somebody have "better genes" for that or "people have born with skill" to make something. That just isn't true. Environment, parents, childhood, food, the way our parent lived and especially what we do matter more than just pure genetics.

It's a controversial subject, but it comes with more than 150 pages or references and proof. I read things with open mind and heart, but of course when somebody comes and says that everything you've believed in genetics is not exactly true, it raises some doubts. David has prepared his subject really well with lots and lots of scientific and historical proof and there are lot of easily understandable examples.

I really loved this book. As a dad of two small daughter (9m and 3y) I also felt the responsibility to encourage them to learn and use full potential of themselves without anyone, not me or anyone else saying them that they couldn't do something. But it's not only for parents. This is for everyone who want find out why you shouldn't believe anyone saying that it's in their genes or they're born with it.

I know that after reading this book I'm a different person. This is one of the the books I will remember for a long long time.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 27, 2011

Shoes as your social media tools

UPDATE 5.2.2011: Now the video is visible again. It's updated a bit, but it have all the great content still there. Now it says clearly that it's a school project and not done by ad agency. Apologies for that. 

UPDATE 31.1.2011: These guys have decided to make this video locked with password. That's just lame! Why in earth to put it to Vimeo in the first place if people can't share it. So sorry for video not being available anymore. I want to keep the post here still if you want to read it.

I find this idea really interesting. You would have RFID in your shoe and you could easily check in places and connect to any social services using specific spots (or mats as in this one). Check the video out:

RFID in shoes from Hampus Lemhag on Vimeo.
As I understand this isn't really real yet, but it's a concept done by ad agency a school project in Hyper Island.

There's definitely something in the idea. My guess is that this connecting yourself to online world with touching things will become more and more popular in near future. There are many good options what is the "device" you will connect with, it could be phone, it could be some jewel or it could be shoe. It just needs to be dead simple.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 24, 2011

How learning, charity and new technology come together

I run into couple of inspiring services which combines learning and charity type of behavior. They are both taking advantages of Skype. First one is connection native language speakers in Latin America and Africa to people who want to learn French and Spanish and second one is connecting children in India to volunteers who want to help these kids to learn.

The idea behind Glovico is brilliant. Native speakers in countries where hourly wages are smaller than in many western countries can give private language learning lessons. Many in western countries couldn't afford over 40 Eurors (~55 dollars) hourly wages for private language lessons. With this service you can get 5-6 hours with that same amount. Maybe the teaching methods are not the same than in some western countries, but most important thing is that you can talk and chat with native speaking person.

Second service is Solesandsomes. It stands for Self Organizing Learning Environments & Self Organized Mediation Environments. SOLE part is about creating environment where kids can learn anything interesting around the web. SOME part is actually the one I see more inspiring. In that they are connecting volunteers around UK and elsewhere to read stories to children and being mentors for these kids. Original idea was grannies reading fairytales for kids, but it grew to be much more. People are actually helping these kids to learn about life and learning.

There are actually almost countless possibilities for each of us to learn more. There are open universities and lectures you can take for free in the web. For example check Khan Academy for maths learning or Academic Earth for University level education. And I bet there are more.

I think world is really going towards education that is free and available to those who really want to learn.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 22, 2011

Book I read: Evolution of Cooperation from Robert Axelrod

This book is about prisoner's dilemma. It's an older book (from year 1984), but this is a subject that will never go old. It's not an entertaining book, but is full of excellent observations about everyday selections between two living creatures or organisations. Writer of this book is respected professor Robert Axelrod best known from this subject.

Prisoner's dilemma is the situation where to guys have been arrested and if ane of the two would confess, he would get out with lighter sentense, but then the other would suffer. This would definetly have an affect on all later interaction between these two. On the other hand, if neither of the guys would confess, they might both get out without sentence. This situation is called prisoner's dilemma. Here's one more post explaining it quite well.

I wouldn't have believed that book about that problem can last for bit less than 200 pages and still be full of valuable information. Reading the book does require interest towards the subject, it's not trying to popularise the dilemma. It explains in very detailed way how the game works, why different strategies work and other's don't.

What was a pleasent surprise was how good real life examples it had to explain how the theory and strategies are visible in the real life. It has stories from world war one, nature and evolution biology and of course from politics.

If you want to understand better how and why co-operation between two or more evolves and if you want to learn why co-operating and being nice has it's benefits on working with others, read it. I warn you that it's not any of these easy reading books there so often nowadays are, but it's full of great content.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 19, 2011

You learn less when you are reading with E-reader than with real books

I've always been doubtful with E-Readers. I've tried couple and it's never felt as good as real ones. Now I found out one more reason to keep reading real books. Study revealed that reading with e-readers make you remember less than with normal books.

Here's an daily mail article about it and here's the actual study.

Actual study wasn't at all about e-Readers, but actually about fonts. Fonts that are harder to read like Comic Sans (that one is for all you Comic Sans haters!) and others make people to remember better the actual content of the text. Surprisingly it makes people to less confident that they have learned the content, but actually still people learn better.

It's amazing how our brains and mind works. When reading is harder and you are less confident about your learning, you have learned better. That's a good tip for all book creators. If you want people to remember your thoughts better, you might want to use some bit harder to read font.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 16, 2011

Perfect example of how street addresses have been used for identity thefts

I've been wondering that Finnish company gives street addresses of people for everyone in the web for search. Here's my posts (original and followup) about that one. I just read this morning about a guy who hijacked women's email and FB accounts anf blackmailed those with nude photos he found from send folders.

So the problem is that in many social media sites you bypass password login with a security question. And those can be something like "which street did you grew up?" or "street name of childhood home?". Using that information you can get in without password.

Now if you take that, social media services and the service you can get street addresses, it's damn easy to hijack some accounts. First find out for example who are someone's parents, then check parents home address and try to use that one. I bet that works for many.

And there's many smaller harm making possibilities with sharing home address, like someone can order you all the free vacation and shopping catalogs delivered to you post box and other similar things.

I rest my case.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 15, 2011

Giving people's street address in the web seems like acceptable behaviour

Couple weeks ago I blogged about privacy "violation" or at least quite careless usage of personal data. One Finnish company (Fonecta) is giving street addresses of almost all Finnish people in the web for anyone to search. I sent them a mail and asked asked about it and now I got an update from them.

They said, that they are getting the data from our mobile phone service providers and in those terms people are agreeing that it is OK to share this information. So they are not doing anything illegal.

I'm still puzzled about this one. I still think they shouldn't be sharing home addresses of people to anyone. Still I seem to be the only one complaining about this one, so maybe I'm just somehow being extra cautious.

I believe in openness, but I think that also should include transparency. Companies should be very clear that your information will be publicly available to anyone in the internet. Users should be aware on all data what is shared to everyone and there shouldn't be any surprises.

I'd love to hear some comments about this one. Would you be OK, if anyone could find your home address from the web?  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 13, 2011

Elevator speech of the web

As you might know elevator speech or pitch is short marketing speech of your product or service. I just realized that there is often elevator speech for web content also. It's is this part, the first 3-4 sentences where you either get the reader or lose it.

Sure elevator speech has much other meanings in business world than just attract the person to continue with the subject, but I think the basic idea is the same. You try to in short time period convince the other to either stick with it or not.

In the web this stand most when you are using RSS, Twitter or some of news services. I notice that I usually give every article about 10 to 15 seconds. So normally bit over the first chapter. If it doesn't seem interesting I usually jump to next one. So if you were me, now I would be either sold or lost already.

Twitter is a perfect example of how to attract users fast. I think that part of Twitters popularity bases on that it makes people to really shortly introduce what their content (or the content they share) is all about. It makes people to shorten the key message of the link they are sharing to bit over 100 characters. Some are much better than the others in twitter. It would be nice to see if actually some people get more hits for their shared links than others for the same content with different introduction. I bet they do, but I haven't seen any data on that one.

I think this is relevant for this type of services. You only have small amount of time to get someone to read your content. In blogging and many news services, pictures, videos and overall UX of the site also help. These give some more time to attract person to check what the content is all about.

Maybe there's something to learn for all bloggers in elevator speeches.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 11, 2011

Will new micropayment system Flattr work?

I love the idea of micropayments in the web. World has been going towards free, freemium and donate based models on good quality content on the web. There's lot of cartoonist, photographers, bloggers, guys making videos and music, etc who really would deserve a dime on their efforts. For that purpose there has been invented Flattr.

It works in a way that you give monthly fee to Flattr and then using Flattr button (similar to FB like) you donate piece of your monthly fee to anyone who has this button. Then Flattr gathers amounts together and pays to the content provider. Here's a video from them to explain it better.

Even though I would like to easily donate some small amounts to content I like, how Flattr operates raised couple of questions.

First, monthly payment. I would basically pay some amount in advance for the great content that I will see during this month. That's like monthly fee of internet. And what if in some months I only find 3 great contents I want to donate and next month I find 13. The guys in first month got much more from me than guys next month got. That feels strange to me.

Second thing is actually the money. Money changes everything. I believe lot of guys who are creating content for web are motivated due to their desire to create. When you start getting money out of it, it turns for more work like. People might lose their real drive to create and start thinking too much on the monetizing side of creation. With Flattr it has been done so visually, that you can actually see how many have shared their cake to you, it even makes it more to work like.

Third thing, related to previous one is, that when you add this Flattr button to your content, you are actually asking for money. Even though in the very beginning it might sound like an good idea to ask for some money from your doings, I think it will turn out other way around. If you've read Dan Pink's Drive, you know there's scientific prove on this one.

I think these are the challenges that this system will face: monthly fee, spreading your cake, money as motivation and that you must admit that you are actually selling your services.

Still I hope for the best for these guys. Whole system is really innovative and first of it's kind. Would be nice to see it succeed, but I see these couple of challenges in wider adoption than just with the early ones.
Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 10, 2011

You choose to have an awesome life

Really inspiring TED speech about how your own choices decide how your life is. It's all about Attitude, Awareness, Authenticity.

From Neil Pasricha author of the blog 1000 awesome things.

I loved the sentence "being you and being cool with that".  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 8, 2011

My own domain

Just couple day ago I decided to get my own domain. I checked and noticed that henrihamalainen.com was free. Then I just went for it. So this blog can be now found with that url. Old one will work also.

The only reasons basically were that it was free (no one had took it), it cost only ~9€/year and there are many other Henri Hämäläinen's in Finland and one of those would have taken it some point for sure. So I decided to be an early bird.

I thought in the beginnign that it's bit egoistic to have your own url, but so what. At the end no one really cares. If having your own url connects you even to one more inspring individual, it was worth it.

Jan 7, 2011

My thought about book Innovation X

I read this one some months ago already, but for some reason I never actually released this post about Innovation X (why companies toughest problems are its greatest advantage) . It's a book from Adam Richardson from Frog Design.

Book Innovation X is mainly about understanding your business much better. It helps you to understand that in the world we live in, there is competition coming from everywhere. Local stores don't only compete with other locals, but anyone in the web selling the same stuff. And for example movie theaters don't compete only with TV and web showing movies, but they actually compete with other media consumption ways, about the time and space used for any entertainment. Understanding that there is competition coming from everywhere can actually be your greatest advantage, as the book will explain.

Book is full of good thoughts and valuable information, especially via it's examples. Those are fun to read and really add value to the book and reader. Actually I found examples being the best part of the book. In some cases text turned out to be bit longish and could have been written in a more colorful way. Actual content, the idea, on the other hand was inspiring and widened my thinking on competition.

It's not "fun and easy" to read as many business books nowadays, but it's full of good stuff about how competition field for all products have enlarged a lot. It gives good tips on how to be acknowledged about competition and your own product. I think it's definitely worth of reading and I recommend it if you have anything to do with product or service creation of any kind.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 5, 2011

Interesting video of using practical wisdom

How conveniently I ran into this TED video from Barry Schwartz about using practical wisdom. I see this to go actually really closely with thoughts there are about motivation in Dan Pink's Drive I recently read and reviewed.

Both talk about what moves people. This video talks about when the smartest ones out there know when to bend the rules and improvise to make good things happen in world and eventually change the system to serve all of us better.

The connective factor here is the purpose. Having an understanding of the whole and vision how something or some things could be better in the future is driving force (a.k.a the motivation) for behavior.

It's a longish talk, but it is worth of all of it.

If you don't have the time to check the whole video, go to 20:20 where he talks about what makes people happy. There's a lesson for all of us. "Research has shown there are two things that make people happy, love and work..".

The more I check these Ted talks, the more I love those.

Jan 3, 2011

Talking about privacy violations, how rude is this one?

I was using Pipl and accidentally found out that almost all street addresses of Finnish people are searchable openly to everyone. From http://en.fonecta.fi/white-pages/ you can without even signing in to see exact street addresses of most of the people in Finland!. I checked couple of my friends and I found all of their addresses. That's damn scary and miserable failure from Fonecta.

This connected to all social media around there, is a scary combination. This gives everyone possibility to basically stalk you. Anyone can know where you live and can go to your home when you are not there or the other way around when you are there. Perfect for stalkers and thieves.

I would think this would need to be another way around in the world we live in. People would need to have a right to decide their privacy so that they can share their exact address to the world if they want to. Not that it is somehow automatically shared with rest of the world and needs to be asked to taken away.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for openness. But also I'm all for privacy. You have the right to decide what is shared. Your personal information like where you live shouldn't be revealed to everyone by default.

I send them a mail and asked about it and I'm waiting for answer. I will try to raise this up, for everyone's who is living in Finland, sake and safety.

They might not be violating any law, though. Maybe somewhere there is small text in some contract saying that they can do this. I just think this is against overall understanding of fair handling of users private data.
Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Thoughts about book from Daniel Pink - Drive

Finally read Daniel Pink's Drive. I've been waiting to read this book for half a year already, so I had high expectations towards it. After A Whole New Mind, I was expecing actually more entertaining book, but this one surprised of being more serious and even more concentrated to the important subject.

It wasn't easy to read, it really required concentration to understand it, but the content was brilliant. Book guided me through backgrounds of motivation and incentives all the way to current understanding of what drive people forward. What are the things that really motivate people.

I confess, I've never been a school person as such. I've never understood all the hassle with numbers and exams et cetera. I've gone through the whole system and graduated from university, but I've only learned the things that has been interesting to me. The rest I've just passed. This book explains some of my behavior and gives some good insights how school system could change. Also it proposes some ways to encourage this true learning (intrinsic motivation) with kids in schools that don't encourage this motivation type I approach.

If you are looking for light weight reading, maybe this is not for you right now. If you want to understand behavior of yourself and the people around you, this will give you food for thought.

This book got me structure my thoughts that for me happiness, learning and motivation goes hand in hand. Quite an achievement for one book.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 2, 2011

Game theory tricks your mind - monty hall problem

I like these game theory stuff. Here's one dilemma and it's solution.

You are in game show.
1. Host gives you to choose from three doors, which one of those contain main prize, other two something minor.
2. When you have chosen the door, you can't open it yet, but host opens one of two remaining doors to show that main prize isn't there.
3. Then he gives you option to swap. Should you?

Check the dilemma and well explained answer:

I might be bit strange, but I just love these mind tricking dilemmas.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jan 1, 2011

Video visualisations of money spend in U.S and elsewhere

I've enjoyed for longer time visualisations that information is beautiful site has been providing. Now they made theír first video visualisation on amounts of money used for different purposes.

Enjoy. Debtris US.


Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Really cool video - year in 40 seconds

From @eirikso cool and beautifully produced video of year in one location.