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The Buzzword Facebook Effect

August 18, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s amazing how the right buzzword can galvanise interest even in the dullest of topics. Think seamy tabloid headline meets uber-cool geek speak, and you’ll get the picture. This post is about a particular buzzword, and the effect its having on your life right now (even as you read this post), and that word is Facebook!

Given there’s already a couple of books and a recent movie, plus a brand new Location Based Service for Facebook, (ps. “location-based-anything” is itself a major buzz-phrase), it can be taken as read that the Facebook buzzword is having an effect like there is no tomorrow.

recently reviewed an eponymously titled “The Facebook Effect”, a book that chronicles the creation of this huge social networking phenomenon which probably plays too much of a role in your life, and that of half a billion other users worldwide. One thing that stuck in my mind was the vivid description of Facebook’s early growth across US university campuses. The strategy involved waiting until there was near hysterical demand for Facebook in each university, which invariably led to a geometric uptake once it was launched in that institution, and in turn, this created even more demand from other schools that were not yet on Facebook. This pattern of pent-up demand leading to rapid and explosive take-up of a new service or product, (also seen in the aftermath of Apple’s product launches), is something I like to think of as the “popcorn effect” for obvious reasons.

Other buzzwords that have an associated effect include the well known Network effect (as exemplified by Metcalfe’s law, i.e. the value of a network increases exponentially with each new user); also the equally potent Oprah effect, with her multi-billion dollar impact on businesses (mainly based on her core audience of women with a spending power of several trillion dollars per annum), it’s no wonder why companies and individuals will do almost anything to be a guest on Oprah’s show.

In light of these, it seems you can forget about the usual trappings of wealth like: mansions, private planes or even your own Island, because you’ve only truly arrived when you have an “effect” appended to your name, your product or to your company!

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What’s Your Personality Type?

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

According to a few personality tests like: Coloured Thinking, Belbin and Myers Briggs, I am a Green, Plant, INFP type respectively. Or if you prefer the Hippocratic old school, I may be described as a Melancholic, Phlegmatic, with twists of Sanguine and a dash of Choleric (for good measure)! I guess I’m like some exotic cocktail that’s probably best left well alone, never mind shaken or stirred, but what’s the real value in all this anyway?

Last week, I attended a BCS London event, “IT’s About You”, featuring two excellent speakers on the topics of personality types and lateral thinking, and which left me wondering just who and what I was really all about. On the surface, psychometric tests and personality profiles are great for team building, executive head hunting, and for putting people in neat little boxes, but if you do enough of them, you’ll probably find yourself in far too many boxes and no enough sense of who you really are. So what is the best way to identify the real you, among all those boxes and pieces of you?

Well some key indicators are that: people are different from each other; each person is dynamic, and depending on situational context, they may show a totally different character than their typical profile might suggest; also people are guaranteed to change over time as they develop and experience life. As a result of these factors, no one test can truly pinpoint a person’s personality without a certain degree of fuzziness, and this is a key differentiator between people and machines, at least for now.

The fact is that we human beings are complex creatures, and any simplifying formula that can help predict how a person will respond to a certain situation is often a great help in selecting partners, team mates, soldiers and leaders, (and perhaps even insurance salespeople). In addition, such personality profiling techniques may prove invaluable for customer interaction and crisis management, especially between humans and computer based interactive systems. The toughest challenge however remains how to map each person’s personality and their immediate situational context, in order to make the best decisions based on accurate predictive profiling. These techniques really only scratch the surface of what must be understood about our human nature before we can hope to see truly dynamic and user friendly systems. So next time someone asks you about your personality type, just tell them you are human, and still evolving.