Reward Psychology

On the human addiction for digital rewards:

Today, technology companies are creating new habits by running users through a series of desire engines—and variable rewards fuel the chain reaction.

Companies like Kiip, Zynga, and American Express drop pellets. Every time we use their services we get something back like points and even discounts.

A like, comment, or a badge on Foursquare create similar gratification. There’s even email games that test your inbox management against friends.

Every app, game, or company incentives us in one of three ways as Eyal points to.

The Tribe. Social networks fuel our emotions with constant positive feedback. We get annoyed when no one likes or comments on posts.

The Hunt. We need to find the next thing whether it’s through search or an article in our RSS feed. Discovery feels good.

The Self. Rewards keep us coming back. Any positive return even if it’s a point increases happiness.

Mash all three together and we’re in a never ending need for appeasement.

This is why I quit video games years ago. There’s not any substance to easy points. And this is why recently I’ve become just as doubtful over likes. They really are a passive way of affirmation and don’t really show commitment.

Many people delete their Instagram photos after getting no likes in the first minute of posting. We’re addicted to positive feedback even if it’s trifling.

Yesterday at the grocery store I saw $15 Facebook Credits. Yes, people actually subsidize their digital points.

I don’t think the rewards system ever stops in the digital world. It’s too easy and costs virtually nothing. The main challenge is really for the the company giving our the rewards. Do these rewards get people to use the product, create a memorable experience, and generate sales? That’s the end goal, anyway.


iCloud Is Still Crappy


I finally took the time this weekend to clean up the photos on my two iPhones, one business one personal.

My plan was to consolidate all photos into albums on my iPad and have those albums synced across devices. But I discovered that you can’t sync albums in one photo stream yet. Apple still has us tethered to the Camera Roll on each device. So I took another route.

For the past 3 months, all my Instagram photos have been automatically saved to my Dropbox folder using a simple Iffft rule. I didn’t adopt this strategy for my photo albums but I did start creating and sending my albums to Dropbox. I sent Dropbox about three different albums from each phone and some miscellaneous videos from my iPad.

Dropbox is once again becoming my dependable external cloud hard drive while iCloud is still in development and wants me to pay for more space. Creating albums in the photo stream seems like such an obvious need. Even my Spotify playlists can be created shared to every device.

If Steve were alive today, I’d email him a complaint that Photo Stream is underachieving and not intuitive enough. I shouldn’t have to trial and error to figure this out.

Dropbox is no sure winner either but just about every data saving app plugs into it. I’d also like to be completely wrong on iCloud albums in Photo Stream. Please tweet me if you know a workaround or I’m so insanely amateur that I just don’t know how to do it. Thanks.

Pinterest Edging Tumblr In Pageviews

gif via Mashable

Cheers to the web prodigy @shl for the tweet.


  • Pinterest focuses on one thing only, images.  Simplicity like Instagram.  Tumblr allows posts on text, quotes, pictures, video, link, chat, and audio.
  • “Repin” conjures quickness.  Publish, boom, we feel like contributors.  “Reblog” sounds lengthy.  Internet denizens have 3 second attention spans.
  • Pinterest is a Facebook Timeline app which means your pins show in the real time ticker.  Log into Facebook, you can’t miss your friends’ pins.  Tumblr awaits.

  • Pinterest is searchable.  Tumblr search is confused by the plethora of mixed media content and too many tags.  Again, simplicity.
  • Pinterest users all have the same looking template.  Like Facebook.  Tumblr has 1000+ designs to choose from including create your own.
  • Pinterest is a girl’s world.  Tumblr is for “Teebowing.”

Compare stats.

MLK’s Tech Revolution


“There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in the world today. In a sense it is a triple revolution: that is, a technological revolution, with the impact of automation and cybernation; then there is a revolution in weaponry, with the emergence of atomic and nuclear weapons of warfare; then there is a human rights revolution, with the freedom explosion that is taking place all over the world. Yes, we do live in a period where changes are taking place”.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Prescient, a man that saw the intersection of freedom and technology.

Imagine the power of his words in 140 characters.

From Sweet Seats To Tweet Seats


I took my wife to see Book of Mormon on Broadway.  I took a few pictures before the sitter told me that photography was prohibited.  I consented but I still didn’t put my phone down.

Next, I wanted to Instagram and tweet out the picture I had just taken.  Surely, my friends and family would like to know that I’m here.  And while I got one 3G bar, my picture still wouldn’t upload.  So then I bypassed Instagram and tried to tweet the picture directly.  No luck.  Simple text tweets wouldn’t go out either.

Frustrated, I checked wifi availability to which none existed.  Real-time bummer.

So while reading an article entitled “Theater for Twitter Users” in The New York Times today, I found some hope the next time I attend a show:

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has tweet seats from which patrons can carry on what organizers call “digital conversations” during concerts.

There were so many tweets I had in mind, a tweet about the fat buy being another version of Cartman or the Jesus character scripted right out of South Park.  I wanted to converse with other Tweeps watching the show with me but I simply didn’t have a connection.

Mark Cuban recently countered live event social networking in blog post:

 I can’t think of a bigger mistake then trying to integrate smartphones just because you can. The last thing I want is someone looking down at their phone to see a replay.

Cuban wants to keep fans so entertained with all sorts of content throughout the game, halftime, and timeouts that fans have no reason to use their phones.

Mark, you can sit me courtside or on the Mavericks bench, bring in Chemical Brothers at halftime, and feature exclusive Will Ferrell/Dirk clips but I’m still checking my phone.  And it’s good for business.

While Broadway isn’t broadcasted on television, the same rules apply, what goes out from inside the show influences gets other interested.

Even more, sit me in a tweet box with a device that only allows Twitter and shows me the names of other Tweeps in the audience.

I’m not kidding.

Social TV


Simon Cowell on television viewers using social networks:

“The only powerful people now on TV are the people on Twitter and Facebook.”

Social networks drive tune-in.  In the case of Twitter, it can even serve as a TV replacement; for example, I follow soccer matches through Twitter feeds.

Social is also a HUGE engagement tool.  The X Factor allows fans to vote through Twitter instead of through SMS.  Free and easy voting creates a whole new market for participation where people want to do more on their phones while watching television than merely checking into shows using Get Glue.

Next up is watching and tweeting directly on the TV, with a side panel pulling in your friends and followers and indicating their votes.  You’d tweet through a TV touch screen.

TV, like music, is an inherently social experience.  This is just the beginning of TV/social integration.