Weekly Reading

It’s been a pretty slow week on the reading front. I’m still working my way through Traction, which is quite interesting so far although I can’t help but feel like a lot of the marketing tactics discussed - being so digital in nature - are now outdated and no longer of much use. I think there are still a few nuggets to be teased out of it though. More to come when I finish the book, I guess.

Did you know that all hermit crabs you find in pet shops come from the wild? I sure didn’t. The industry is an unregulated nightmare, but one breeder is working to change that.

Are you a European Citizen? If the answer to that is yes, you might share more than you know with the corrupt family of Cambodia’s long running leader, Hun Sen.

Choeung and Lau were issued with Cypriot passports in February 2017, Reuters reporting showed. Four of their five children also applied for Cypriot passports in the same year.

These prominent Cambodians all sought Cypriot citizenship during a turbulent period when Hun Sen’s grip on power seemed to be faltering. His recent troubles trace back to a general election in 2013. His ruling Cambodian People’s Party had long dominated the polls, but in 2013 it won only 68 of the national assembly’s 123 seats and 48% of the votes. It was Hun Sen’s worst showing in 15 years.

Buying your way into the EU via Cyprus is an ongoing issue, which the rich and the wealthy are exploiting to run away from problems back home.

A pub in the UK is trialing facial recognition technology to manage queues at the bar. While the wait can definitely be a bummer, I’m not sure I’m willing to give up that sort of data just for the convenience of knowing my place in a queue.

I stumbled across an interesting article on Spaced Repetition, an evidence based learning technique which aims to repeat information in the form of flashcards to improve your ability to learn. This subsequently lead me to Mochi App, a digital way of applying this technique. I’ve not yet had a chance to put it to the test but I’ll be giving it a try when I get back into working in Python.

How expensive can a UX mistake really be? In the US Navy’s case, it can lead to deaths and a financial cost North of $100,000,000. At the heart of this disaster is poor design, specifically how a single checkbox ended in tragedy.

Understandably, Stripe articles often do the rounds of Design Twitter - this one in particular caught my eye this week as it talks about something that seems to all too frequently be ignored, accessible colour systems.

Garrett Dimon writes on quitting Analytics. If you’re privacy conscious you may have already noticed that I run no tracking on this site so this article was right up my alley. INSPIRED talked a lot about the value of gathering qualitative feedback alongside quantitative data - as I work on a digital product (and I promise I will talk about it more openly when I have more to say) I find it hugely valuable to see how successful people approach product management.

Garrett also wrote a book called Starting and Sustaining - it’s now very firmly in my to-read pile.

AI can be used for a lot of unethical purposes - case in point, hunting for “whales” in the games industry. A whale in a gaming context refers to a customer that spends significant amounts of money on a game, often in a free game. In this case, a customer who spent $150,000 in Transformers: Earth Wars.

The role game companies play in enabling compulsive behaviour is one of the primary concerns fuelling political and legal pressures of the kind embodied by this year’s DCMS enquiry in the UK — in which the participating game companies were described as “wilfully obtuse” around the key issues, and accused of only paying “lip service” to avoiding problematic monetisation methods.

What the DCMS would make of Yodo1’s AI — with its 87% success rate, rising to 95% — is anyone’s guess. But removing the last scintilla of human oversight from the gap between a player and $150,000 of their money is a very bad look for the games industry.

Like a lot of my peers, I spent a significant amount of my teenage years playing online games like Runescape (in my case it was a lot of Diablo 2). Quartz writes about how that affected our view of the world, and how our behaviour was an insight into what was to come as the world became always online.

Computer games fostered sedentary and physically isolated play, and may have foreshadowed the environment we occupy today, where scores of people live with their noses in their phones, communing with friends and family at a distance rather than interacting with their immediate surroundings. Daily life becomes an interlude to online life, and there’s an ever-present risk that we’ll miss something in the “real world” because we’re preoccupied with our digital selves.

Finally - TechCrunch wrote a crap article on email - EmailGeeks cleared up the mess.