November
2013
10

The results of online learning

Julius Yego

To continue talking about education, online learning and new technologies after the post about Isaac Asimov and education, I believe I could not find a better example than Julius Yego.

 

Julius Yego is a Kenyan javelin thrower. However this is not what makes him someone special. But what does makes him special is that he is a self taught javelin thrower from a poor country (HDI index of 0.519, position 145 out of 186) with absolutely no support for javelin throwing.

 

He started from nothing, no coach, no money to pay for his training, no special equipment and that did not stop him. He never gave up and recently was classified this august as 4th on the world championships in Moscow 2013. On 2012, he made history as the first African Javelin thrower to qualify for the Olympics finale in London. This is the result of his determination and online learning.

 

His method was simple: passion and technology. He is his own coach; well he and the videos available on Youtube. He circumvented the lack of proper coaches by spending hours at cyber cafes in Nairobi to improve his technique by watching and learning from his idols.

 

Here is a video of himself explaining his story. Short video (around 2 minutes).

 

 

I truly believe he earned his nickname as Mister YouTube Man.

 

This is a great example of the possibilities people can achieve by online learning nowadays. And this example is from a poor country with limited resources.… Read the rest of “The results of online learning”

October
2013
4

Influence and Marketing (2)

birds and influence

We have seen before on Influence & marketing (1) that influence is more complex than it seems and deserves a much more detailed approach in order to distinguish influence from all of the other influence-like behaviors like for example homophily.

 

Now, let’s apply this to one of my huge passions: Marketing.  After all, marketing and psychology are much alike. Is influence really what is affecting a purchase decision?  We should differentiate between behavioral changes and behavioral tendencies.

 

How much influence is there in a purchase decision? That’s a tough question. For starters, we should know the effect of recommendation above the initial probability of purchasing. In other words, what is the added value of influence on my previous probability of purchase decision? will it have any effect?

 

This problematic can be solved by the use of a person’s social data, but where can we find all the social data about someone, where he indicates all his passions and interests? Would he be willing to share correct information? Well enough rhetoric questioning: You can use social media.

 

By analyzing the data obtained from social media, we can separate (or distinguish a little better) influence from other confounding factors such as homophily and measure what we really want to measure (it may sound obvious saying “measure what we really want to measure” but if you had a slight idea of the amount of statistical validity problems, you would recognize it is not a trivial matter).… Read the rest of “Influence and Marketing (2)”

September
2013
30

Moral behaviour and inequality

moral and unequal pay

We tend to think that the sense of morality and equality are only human traits. However, Psychology has proven that this trait is shared among many different animal species.

 

It is of particular interest the work of Frans de Wall a biologist and primatologist known for his work on the behavior and social intelligence of primates. We can see in his experiments that monkeys among other animals share a sense of morality. 

 

For instance, if two monkeys execute the same task and are rewarded unequally, then the monkey who was rewarded poorly will complain and even protest. It is something better seen than explained so I would like to share one of Frans de Wall‘s conferences in TED that illustrates what I’m talking about here.

 

Here is the short version (for people with less time or who just want a quick peek at the experiment)

 

 

The two monkeys are rewarded with pieces of cucumber (the poor reward) and grapes (the better reward).

 

I think that moral behavior is based upon a sense of fairness / reciprocity and empathy / compassion. What I like about this experiment is that it allows to focus only on the fairness and reciprocity component of moral behaviour because the way they reward the monkeys is not something that they can share.

 

Of course, humans may react differently in case of inequality because we have “deeper and more complex” reactions, or rationalized reactions.… Read the rest of “Moral behaviour and inequality”

September
2013
28

Influence and marketing (1)

Birds of a feather

Human beings are not perfect, and one of the many defects we have is that we confuse correlation and causation. I would like to talk about how it affects Social Influence and then about some of the consequences it can have in marketing.

 

Influence is when one person is affected by others in an emotional, rational or behavioral manner. Let’s take for example someone famous on TV, a Rockstar or a politician. We know that these people’s actions can have a big impact on the rest of the population. A president’s speech for instance can change the course of a whole country, go to war or achieve a peaceful resolution to a conflict.

 

But social influence isn’t caused only by big names. We’ve all got a friend who has persuaded us to go with him to a concert, to an opening, or to buy a product we did not even knew it existed. Social influence is also present in these cases where the average guy can influence someone else. If we add social networks to the equation the power of influence can be even higher than we sometimes think.

 

However, what if the impact of social influence was not that high, or at least not always that high? what if we are overestimating the real impact of social influence? Chances are we do.

 

One of the main reason is that social influence is really hard to measure and separate from all the other psychosocial possible explanations.… Read the rest of “Influence and marketing (1)”