Designing Habits From Big Data to Small Changes

Notes from the SXSW session moderated by Michael Copeland, Wired Sr Editor. Panel included Steph Habif, Stanford Healthcare Prof, Trae Vassallo, KPCB Systems Partner and Jeff Holove, Basis Science CEO.

Synopsis: We all know there are vast amounts of data about our lives – our spending, our browsing, our activity – being collected daily. With the recent explosion in inexpensive sensors and self-tracking apps, we can capture new insights in personal health and activity data. However, the data is only truly valuable if it can be turned into positive behavior change. The panel discussed the key enablers to tackling this challenge: the use of visualization to make volumes of data easily understandable to the average consumer, leveraging gamification and social mechanics to keep users engaged, and the science of habit design to actually create behavior change.

Health behavior campaigns of the recent past included the Nancy Reagan “Just say no” campaign and Michelle Obama’s new nutrition plate. Very low touch, engagement campaigns.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, an example of a high touch campaign would be working with a health coach. A real story from Steph who created a custom behavior change program for a woman named Lucy. Lucy was 5’4″, 224 lbs. Steph came in as a health coach and designed lots of tiny habits. Over 7 months, Lucy dropped to 178 lbs. Her metabolism increased 50%. She finished the NY marathon.

What is between Nancy Reagan and Steph? Can technology/wearables fill the gap with the masses?

1. For success, you need to engage with the data not just look at the data.
2. Social pressure works. Like OPower comparison of energy usage.
3. Extroverts need more tasks and dopamine than Introverts.
4. Gender differences. Read coaching books about the difference between coaching men and women.
5. When a man can’t figure out a new technology, they assume it’s the technologies fault. When a woman can’t figure technology out, they assume they are not smart enough.
6. Need a diversity of real-time information and triggers to get user action – although not studied well.
7. Identify a behavior that already exists and build on it.
8. Wearable tech give us a comfortable, always on “iPhone.”

Basic Approach:
Step 1: Follow the Dr BJ Fogg There are several tools on this site.
Step 2: Apply “The hook” from Nir Eyal ( to help operationalize. @nireyal


Moving from Story to Narrative

Summary of SXSW session presented by John Hagel, Chairman of Deloitte @jhagel

Synopsis: In an attention economy where more and more options compete for scarce attention, the ability to attract and retain attention will increasingly determine who creates and captures value. Stories are a powerful way to engage audiences, but have limitations that make it difficult to retain attention, build relationships and mobilize action. Narratives offer a more powerful vehicle to amplify impact, but are much less well understood.

Storytelling is overrated and ripe for challenge. Look at the SXSW conference session list. There are 112 storytelling sessions at SXSW.

Exploring the narrative is what’s next.

Storytelling v Narrative:
Storytelling has a beginning, middle and end. It’s about me or people over there, not you. Stories are powerful in creating emotion.

Narratives are open ended. The end has yet to be determined. There is participation. Narratives have caused people to give their lives such as the Narrative of Christianity or The American narrative – the land of opportunity.

Institutional example of narrative is Apple’s Think different campaign. This is more than just a slogan. It’s not about Apple, it’s about us!

Narratives lead to the development of Florence and Silicon Valley. “We can change the world by working together.”

Any powerful narrative answers 3 questions:
1. Why are we here?
2. What can we accomplish?
3. How should we connect with each other?

Two types of narratives:
1. Opportunity based. Emphasis reward. Will take some time but it’s worth it.
2. Threat based. US politics examples. Republicans use threat of terrorist attacks and traditional way of life while democrats use the threat of environmental collapse or wall street greed. Mounting pressure is a tactic with this type.

Narratives help develop trust and takes you to the edge where the excitement is. You don’t have to have all the answers, just questions. That’s the interesting and exciting part.

Why are narratives so important?
Participants are more likely to act boldly and take risk. More long term. More collaborative.
Provides stability. Like a compass. Helps with focus during periods of attention overload.

Narrative approach:
Narrative of True Believer: Like religion. There is a specific destination and path. You have to believe.
Narrative of the Explorer: An opportunity with undefined path. Highlights collaboration. Encourages passion. Am I increasing my impact over time?

Narrative orientation: What is your reaction when faced with an unexpected hurdle?
Do you have a connecting disposition? Connect with others to help. They have experience or passion. Passionate workers are twice as connected.

If narratives are so powerful, what do we do?
Make existing narratives explicit. We all have narratives. They are manifested through our actions.

There are narratives for personal, institution and societal and the power of narrative increase when you align them all.

Is your narrative causing stress or opportunity? What are some alternative narratives that can amplify your existing narrative?

Narratives can’t be handed to a PR firm. One person can’t sit down and write a narrative. They evolve over cumulative actions over time. Be reflective about your daily practice. You have to live it.

Celebrate the accomplishments of others. Find and curate those who are helping the narrative.

Tech can amplify narrative and stimulate action.

Transmedia platforms. Christians have The Bible, sermons, music, theater, video. Look at top evangelical preachers today and you will see a sophisticated transmedia strategy. But the real power is the small group meetings outside of transmedia.

Social media so far has been great for conversation but how can it bring us together to help us take action?

The “Power of Pull” is John’s book

Watch for 2014 SXSW session from John and myself on “Developing your Narrative by Analyzing Your Actions on Social Media.”

Global News After the Twitter Revolutions

Notes from SXSW session by Time Magazine Intl,Editor, Jim Frederick, NPR Sr Strategist, Andy Carvin, CNN Managing Editor, Meredith Artley, and NBC News Correspondent, Ayman Mohyeldin.

I was present at SXSW 2011 during the Arab Spring where I inadvertently ended up is a session with Andy Carvin who was tweeting madly with peers about the happenings. During this session, he broke the news to the room that an Al-Jazeera journalist had become the first journalist to be killed covering the uprisings. Many others in the room personally knew this reporter. It was a life changing event for me.

This 2013 session is much more formal than 2011. In 2011, there were just a handful of chairs in a circle in a back room where most of us sat on the floor. I sat next to Clay Shirkey and then Al Jazeera reporter, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin.

Unlike 2011 where Carvin stole the show, today, Mohyeldin commanded the room with his on the ground experience.

The discussion today is about how these leaders use social network tools to do their job better.

1. Hamas and Israel forces actually tweet back and forth to each other.
2. “CNN iReport” seems a bit old today” CNN Managing Editor, Meredith Artley
3. It is still possible to direct message (twitter) high profile people just like the early days of email.
4. During the east coast earthquake, Andy searched twitter for “what the fuck was that?” because people tweet what they think or how they feel.
5. They worry about geo location broadcasting for personal safety.

CNN – Artley
1. Day parting news. Meredith is looking at web analytics! During lunch break, they push out non breaking news – something lighter. Looking at devices too. iPad usage peaks in the evening.
2. Social media is setting the news agenda. Head of social feeds trending topics. It’s one of the 3 methods to set the agenda.

NPR – Carvin
1. Social media tools have limits and you need to work within those constraints for success.
2. We will see more sophistication of using tools like Twitters with new countries goofing through conflict.

NBC – Mohyeldin
1. Governments are much more savvy with social network. Facebook is where official statements start in Egypt
2. The anti prophet video and Egypt’s banning of YouTube for a month had the opposite intended effect for the Egyptian government.
3. Less concerned where/what platform news is consumed as long as it is NBC content.
5. Facebook used in Arab world as a serious political community tool which seems a sharp contrast to the US where it is more entertainment and commerce.
6. It has changed Arab conversations from top down to horizontal.
7. Information is ubiquitous. I can’t compete to breaking the story. My job is to put the story in context.

Tina Roth Eisenberg “Swissmiss” 11 Rules to Live By

1. Invest your life in what you love. No sharp distinction between work and play. Leave others to guessing wether you are working or playing.
2. Embrace enthusiasm. Don’t be afraid to show it.
3. Don’t complain. Make things better. Do something about it or let it go. LCD Soundsystem “the best way to complain is to do something.”
4. Trust and empower your team
5. Value experiences over money. A labor of love always pays off.
6. Surround yourself with like minded people. “Change the outcome by changing your circle.” Seth Godin
7. Step away from ego and collaborate whenever you can.
8. Ignore haters
9. Make time to think and breathe. Wonderful things can happen when your brain is empty.
10. If an opportunity scares you, take it.
11. Be someone’s eccentric aunt

Resources: design blog.
@swissmiss temporary tattoos. Monthly design breakfast series.
TeuxDeux app. Neux update coming early April. Moving to paid model.

How Self-Tracking Geeks are Shaping our Future

Notes from the SXSW session featuring GE CMO, Lisa Kennedy.

Synopsis: Imagine a world in which everything you say and do, and how your body responds, is tracked and analyzed. This panel featured speakers who have imagined that world and worked to create it as entrepreneurs, executives, investors, organizers and fanatics.

Set-up from Peter Zandan @zzandan
Self-tracking is mainstream. Apple store has 20 self-tracking products
14.5% of US population is self tracking. Way more than who is on Twitter.
Les than half of US society trusts science. However 80% of us believe in miracles!

Lisa Kennedy @gehealthy
1. Health 3.0 is self diagnosing hardware. smaller, cheaper devices.
2. The rise of ambient intelligence that can map your “Behavioral Genome.”
3. Clothing being made with sensors. Comfortable technology is changing our perception of technology.
4. In the future, women can wear continuous breast cancer screening monitors. First Warning Systems has this for $1000.
5. DIY individual Telomere testing is a predictor of DNA instability or damage and loss of cell and tissues function.
6. We are 30-50 years behind in the study of the brain organ vs other organs. NeuroVigil’s iBrain device is a new monitor. Stephan Hawking is testing. Essentially this is fundamental mind reading.
7. First shooter games are actually good for you! Helps with focus.
8. Lisa believes Data = the currency of health.

Sonny Vu, CEO of Misfit Wearables @sonnyvu
Self tracking technology will be truly mainstream when it stops making you look like Tron.
Tech must be fashion agnostic.

Gary Wolf, Quantified Self Founder @agaricus
Quantified Self is self knowledge through numbers.
See for local meet-ups.
QS users should share their experiences which can help craft where this world goes.
The Zombi meme idea.
Seems like QS members are not narcissists.

Hacking Cities for a Better, Sustainable Future

Notes from SXSW session moderated by Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine Sr Editor. Panel included Rachel Haot, Chief Digital Officer for NYC, Erika Diamond, Recyclebank VP and Abhi Nemani of Code for America.

Mayor Bloomberg wants to work with the NYC public to help realize NYC’s full digital potential. Step 1 was to assess the situation and create a digital roadmap. Rachel Haot heading up new Digital office.

Rachel’s stakeholder questions during her assessment:
1. What is your goal as an agency? Not what is your goal online. Sometimes she researched their agencies audiences online consumption habits to see if digital was a channel option.
2. What are you trying to achieve in tech and what have you done that you are proud of that you wish more people knew?
3. What’s getting in your way so I can help?

The NYC Digital Roadmap has projects that fall into five areas: access to internet, technology education, open government, engagement, and industry

Recent project examples:
1. Encouraging tech startups through program
2. During Hurricane Sandy, the office applied what they learned during Hurricane Irene and was able to incorporate social media into their strategy for dispersing information. They now also have an emergency protocol for social media in situations like Sandy and Winter Storm Nemo to help streamline the process for sending out content from different city agencies. This content is now kept up to date.
3. Redesigning Pay Phones for the Digital Age
4. Use hackethons to crack large problems. This can provide small successes that stimulate further efforts.

Hackethon (codethon) approach:
1. Look at for example of a good Dev community.
2. Get the data out there and then provide clear outcomes and guidelines.
3. The relationships you develop in a hackethon is the best value.
4. To sell hackethon, give success examples.

Other ideas:
1. Use engagement and rewards programs like Recyclebank to help citizens change behaviors.
2. Adopt a tree/adopt a hydrant where citizens sign up to care for a city tree or hydrant is one example of how apps can take a basic “we the people” philosophy and create positive action.

Social Media in North Korea: Tweets from the DMZ

Notes form SXSW 2013 session by Jean Lee, Associated Press, Seoul Bureau Chief.
Twitter: @newsjean Instagram:

In response to my question about how NK is different to other closed countries like China, Jean responded; To understand NK, you need to understand Korean (north & south) culture. They are very conformist. NK specifically takes pride in knowing they are different from the world. They know they are isolated, and for the most part, like it.
1. North Korea is one of the most closed Internet countries in the world and juxtapositioned against South Korea which has one of the worlds highest penetration in online and digital devices.
2. There are two internet networks in NK; One for foreigners which is fairly open and the other for some citizens which is very limited and controlled. The citizen network has no access to outside content or networks like Facebook or Google.
3. The network for Foreigners has a new 3G system. Jean thinks this could be one, very small step toward internet openness. Jean could search for something on the Internet and show it to a citizen.
4. @newsjean was the first foreigner to tweet and Instagram on the new 3G network. Jean told Dennis Rodman (@dennisrodman) about the system and to tweet on his trip. Jean also travelled with Eric Schmidt in NK who was advocating Internet openness.
5. Although phones are very expensive, North Korea has 1 million cell phone users now who now text, read books, etc. They talk on their phones in movies! Texts used more than email. Not a lot of desktop/home computers. Some have Chinese made tablets for reading books. They call them iPads.
6. The NK citizen network has some fledging social networks sort of like bulletin boards. Used for students to wish their teachers happy birthday. (see associated image) What is being viewed on the citizen network? Propaganda of course like the Peaceful Reunification of Korea org run by the gov. But also, the popular NK girl band, Moranbong. “Which girl is your favorite?”
7. Jean sees no sign of underground internet usage. Fear is very strong and is the first obstacle to break down before this advancement. Some have said NK is 30-40 years behind China.