About Me

My photo
I recently graduated with an MBA and an M.S. Information Systems from Boston University, concentrating in Marketing and Business Analytics. I also live on a boat and have a Boston Terrier named Maracas.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Facebook, and everything out there.

By now, you probably all know that I'm a big data geek.  I like to look at numbers, analyze behavior, and try to derive insights from data.  Recently, I made a discovery that made my jaw drop. Literally.  For reals.  I discovered my Facebook data.

If you go to WolframAlpha and type "facebook data" you can get immediate access to everything you have done on Facebook in recent history.  It's really fascinating! Let me share some of my more interesting facts.

First of all, I learned something about myself.  I learned I was born on a Tuesday.  I also learned that I'm about 31.5 years old.

Then I learned some interesting things about my friends, like how big is the age range and how much they lie.  I'm on to you Ana Wandolo Mountain-Dew Ferrer!!! Also not her real name!!! And Derrick, why that date? You could have lied about your age, but why that date specifically? Is it because you want to commemorate the opening of the Trans-Andean Tunnel?

Then I learned a little more about myself and my behavior.  It seems like I don't like to use Facebook for iPhone as much as I like the real thing.  I only check Facebook on my iPhone about 25% of the time, and mostly it's at 4 PM on Wednesday's.  I wonder why? Maybe it's because it's hump-day and the work ADD has kicked in.

 It looks like most of my friends are from the USA, followed by Mexico, and that I have friends in 22 countries and 115 cities.  And by the looks of the map, I'm pretty much covered on half of the world.  I even have a friend who lives in Hawaii! Aloha!

Now, this was my favorite piece of data.  This is how my network is arranged.  There are three main clusters: Green is my direct MBA friends, Yellow is my indirect MBA friends or MBA friends from another class, and Red is my network of friends before going back to school.  And that big circle in the middle is my wife (r/awww)!  She's Special! There are a few outliers who are people I have met at some point and have become dear friends, but are not connected to the rest of my networks.  I wish they could meet the rest of my friends...

Lastly, I learned about the marital status of my network.  I mostly hang out with married people.  I guess it makes sense.  Anyway, I have more male single friends than female single friends.  Maybe they should meet!

Anyway, it's really worth it to go in and analyze your data.  I'm sure you'll learn something new and interesting.  And if you think that this post was a waste of time, well maybe this will cheer you up: Battlestar Galactica is now on Amazon Prime... for Free!!! And if you still think I robbed you of some free time, here's my favorite picture of Maracas.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Gamification! or... Engagement Platforms!

Today, I was given the opportunity to be a guest speaker for an MBA level class.  I chose to talk about gamification and the real opportunities that exist by leveraging gaming mechanics to make otherwise mundane tasks fun.

Something that was neat about this class was the fact that the topic was initially regarded with skepticism.  Gamification always is.  That's why it's probably better to call it an "Engagement Platform."

In any case, I was half expecting this, so I decided to run an experiment.  The experiment consisted of placing small challenges in some of the slides.  These challenges would lead to some level of engagement with social media platforms.  Even if my presentation was terrible, the audience would be somewhat excited to deliver on my challenges and I would generate new leads.

In a way, I was hoping that this would happen because then I could make a really great point on how gamification principles apply to even the greatest skeptics.  Lo and behold, people were surprisingly engaged in my presentation but also by my challenges.  I had a great response from the audience.

I gave a presentation to a room with 20+ students, and came out with six new followers on tweeter, three new contacts on LinkedIn, and 12 new visitors to my website.  This was a great conclusion to my presentation because I just talked about a concept that fascinates me and I was able to drive a behavioral change where people volunteered certain information that they would not normally volunteer.

Gamification is real, but it is not easy to apply.  You really need to understand what you want to get out of gamifying something, what motivates your audience, and how you are going to keep them engaged.

Here are my slides.  Please contact me with any questions as I am really passionate about the subject and I would love to get any feedback, opinions, leads, etc.  I would also love to ENGAGE with other people who feel strongly about the subject.  Get it.  Engage?!

Anyway, here is a picture of Maracas playing hard to get.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Horrible Death by Powerpoint

It is truly incredible that even though we are surrounded by so much technology, we still have so many issues communicating.  Not that technology would make us better at communicating but at least it should have helped.  Instead, people think that they need to give presentations while writing everything they are saying on a powerpoint slide and then adding stock photography (with watermarks) to the slide.  Kill me now!

My current job requires me to communicate very technical stuff to non-technical people.  While training  on the subject I have had to go though so many powerpoint presentations that have more that a hundred slides in some cases.  This training has had me thinking on ways to present information so that anyone can understand it.

There's a theory in design that says you should design for children and the elderly.  If you can accomplish this, you have just designed for almost everyone in between.  I'd like to think that this approach can also be applied to designing presentations.  Especially when you are talking about very technical stuff that could potentially be very boring.

When doing some research into the best ways to give presentations, I ran into the famous 10/20/30 rule that has been evangelized by Guy Kawasaki.  It essentially says that no powerpoint presentation should have more than 10 slides, last more than 20 minutes, and contain font smaller than 30 points.   While this rule should normally be used in the venture capital world, I like the idea of using it for everything.

Since presentations are there to help you visually present an idea, then nobody should have a problem sticking to the 10/20/30 rule. In a way, I would like to propose that no presentation should transmit an idea by itself.  Presentations require a presenter.  Presenters should be able to communicate without a presentation.  Presentations should only be there for support.  

OK, so now you want to make a presentation.  Well, there are many tools you can use to make such presentations.  The most popular one is PowerPoint.  It is also the most deadly since everyone over uses it.  The next most popular is Keynote, which makes beautiful presentations if you have the right eye for design.  Next in the arsenal is Prezi.  While beautiful it can also be a train wreck.  Please use carefully and not so often.  A less known tool is SlideRocket.  This one is cloud enabled and can show a live twitter feed.  Lastly, there is Knovio.  I am quickly becoming a fan of this one because it requires you to record yourself.  If you bore yourself to tears, then you know you need to keep working at it!

Giving presentations can be daunting.  But if you have to give them, first work on your communication skills.  Once you master this, you can work on your stage performance.  This can really make or break a presentation and the only way to master this is by trial and error.  I suggest taking some Improv Comedy classes to really get good at it.

Well, off you go.  Make presentations, communicate ideas, and entertain.  But please, oh please, don't write paragraph upon paragraph of text on a slide.  Stick to words or non-sentences.  And remember, it's not the presentation that sucks.  It's you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New Blog

Hello Friends,

This post has been deleted.

Here is a picture of Maracas:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Xcode Tutorial and Other Research

Hello Friends,

As requested, here is my latest version of the Xcode Tutorial for Business Students.  It exists to give people an idea of the power of Xcode and to make you comfortable with the software.  It is also intended for non-techie people.  I would very much appreciate any feedback that you can provide so that I can start writing the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) portion of the document.  Also, I would like to thank Prof. Wyner for helping me out with this document and for letting me do this crazy project.

Xcode 4.2 for Business Students 

I also wanted to share a lot of the research I made regarding gamification and how it can be used in many settings to extract value from users and also to change behavior.  Very interesting stuff:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My thoughts on Reddit and Innovation

Reddit[i] is a community where registered users, known as redditors, submit content in the form of text or links that connect to images, videos, news, etc.  This content can be up-voted or down-voted by other redditors and the best voted content will float to the top of the page.  Within the content, redittors can also comment and these are down-voted or up-voted as well.  If your content or comments get up-voted you get “karma” which is used to tell other users how active you are.  There are also subreddits that are communities created around specific areas of interest.

The name reddit is rumored to come from the fact that the readers are also the editors. The alternate theory is that it is a play on words “I read it on reddit.”[ii] Redditors are mainly nerds.  They can be history, computer, science, or just plain nerd-nerds.  This provides for very interesting interaction that eventually may lead to innovation.  While this is not specifically an innovation community, much innovation has come from it and much more will come out of it in the future due to the interest of the people, the community feeling, and the ranking system.
At first, it is very difficult for new members to participate as they have little karma and credibility.  These users are down-voted with almost anything they post.  The way they can get initiated is by up or down-voting others to get karma.  The rules for participation are few: users may never post personal information and they may not spam.

Reddit is a flat governance, open participation[iii] type of collaboration.  Anyone can solicit and offer ideas, and no single participant has the authority to decide what is or isn’t a valid innovation.  Users may ask anything, and replies will be policed by the community in the form of up-voting. Innovation occurs when you get people from very different backgrounds to discuss a point.  Take for example the idea for the movie Rome Sweet Rome[iv] that came from a thread where historians, veterans, and other nerds were discussing the possibility of bringing down the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus.  Users argued that this may be possible with the help of a modern U.S. marine infantry battalion[v], and is now an idea for a movie.  Another innovation that came out of Reddit is the University of Reddit[vi] where users with a particular set of skills teach other redditors.  One example of such classes is the Game Concept Art[vii] class. Other innovations have been the wide introduction of Memes[viii], Generosity Campaigns[ix], the many game improvements on Minecraft[x], and the inception of the “Restoring Truthiness[xi]” campaign by Stephen Colbert.

This community fosters innovation because it allows anyone to interact, it’s free, and it has millions of registered users from all over the world.  Users volunteer their time in order to validate facts, contribute, and curate the content.  There are large numbers of solutions and much variability, but the users themselves up-vote the best solutions to the top of the page.  The biggest challenge is that users may vote for the best solution while not the most profitable. Everyone benefits from this community because of the knowledge that is exchanged and the people that redditors meet from all over the world and all walks of life.  This has been so important, that redditors now hold meet-ups[xii] and secret santa[xiii] exchanges to meet their fellow contributors all over the world. 

As of now, there is nothing that I would change about this community.  People are happy and they work for free just to feel part of a community.  Ideas may be crazy sometimes, but that doesn’t mean that they are bad.  I would totally see Rome Sweet Rome even if time travel doesn’t currently exist. But, maybe the redditors already have a plan for that!

[i] “Reddit: The Front Page of the Internet” <http://www.reddit.com>
[ii] "Frequently Asked Questions." Reddit.com: Help. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.reddit.com/help/faq>
[iii] Pisano, Gary P., and Roberto Verganti. "Which Kind of Collaboration Is Right for You?" Harvard Business Review (2008). Print.
[iv] Zakarin, Jordan. "'Rome Sweet Rome': Reddit Thread Gets A Movie Deal." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 14 Oct. 2011. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/14/rome-sweet-rome-reddit-thread-movie_n_1010758.html>.
[v] "Could I Destroy the Entire Roman Empire during the Reign of Augustus If I Traveled Back in Time with a Modern U.S. Marine Infantry Battalion or MEU?" Reddit. Web. <http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/k067x/could_i_destroy_the_entire_roman_empire_during/c2giwm4>.
[vi] "University of Reddit." University of Reddit. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://universityofreddit.com/>.
[vii] "Game Concept Art." University of Reddit. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.reddit.com/r/gameconceptart/comments/cyyjq/referencesandresources/>.
[viii] "Internet Meme." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Mar. 2012. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_meme>.
[ix] Alcorn, Angela. "5 Cool Things You Should Know About Reddit." Cool Websites, Software and Internet Tips. Makeuseof, 17 Mar. 2011. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-cool-reddit/>.
[x] "Minecraft." Reddit. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://www.reddit.com/r/minecraft>.
[xi] "Rally to Restore Sanity And/or Fear." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rally_to_Restore_Sanity_and/or_Fear>.
[xii] "Global Reddit Meetup Date." Reddit. Web. <http://blog.reddit.com/2011/06/global-reddit-meetup-day-will-be-this.html>.
[xiii] "Secret Santa 2011." The World's Biggest Gift Exchange Platform. Web. 01 Apr. 2012. <http://redditgifts.com/exchanges/secret-santa-2011/>.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Google Play

Mondays are my worst day.  I know I sound like Garfield, but they are.  I have to be in school from 8 AM to 9 PM.  My day is composed of school, work, meetings, extra curricular activities, more meetings, and a three-hour class to finish the day.  So when I go home, I just want to relax. Well, I was trying to relax, minding my own business when BAAM! There it was.  Something new on Google.  But what?!  What is "Play"?

I was really intrigued, but was careful not to click on it.  This one click could mean so many things during a time where I just want to relax.  It could get me going down the rabbit hole, or get me all worked up.  I'm not sure what reaction it will cause, but I know that it will not be relaxing.  So, at this point, I'm clearly all worked up, so I go ahead and click on it.  Oh man! Did I just make a poor decision!!! Well, there goes my peaceful evening.

Google Play is almost a direct hit on a company that I admire very much: Amazon.  For the longest time, I thought Amazon had the best strategy for sustainability.  While Google owns search, mail, and Calendars, Amazon had the store, the cloud, and prime.  While Apple had consumer electronics, Amazon was creating their own and distributing Apple's.  While Facebook had the social network and all of our personal information, Amazon had our purchasing habits, credit cards, and our hearts.  Well, maybe not our hearts, but they are a company you can trust and is well diversified.  They are able to compete in most of the fronts.

So, now comes mean ol' Google trying to anger everyone.  First with Android to compete with Apple.  Then with Plus to compete with Facebook.  And now with Play to compete with Amazon!? Well, this just plain stinks.  First of all, it got me worked up and writing this stupid blog post.  Second of all, I'm afraid it will be a half-hearted attempt like Plus, and that their reason for doing this is only to learn more about us and not give us a good product.  Lastly, it is challenging Amazon, a company that I truly like and respect.

Anyway, I am sure that this is their first day in a new school and they don't want to hear people complain about them.  I just hope that they're here for a little while and move on.

I really don't know what to expect and not sure how this fits their overall strategy.  I can understand why Google may want to get into the driverless car industry, but not why they would open up a digital store.  Unless, of course, that they want to plague all of our media with advertising.  And if that's the case, well they just plain suck! I guess we will have to see how this pans out.  For now, I hope Amazon wins.  And Google: please don't cancel any of my accounts.  I offer a picture of Maracas as tribute!