Thursday, December 31, 2015

Star Trek Fan Fiction

This is a major missed opportunity for Paramount and CBS.  It is such a no-brainer that I am amazed at how foolish and narrow-minded these companies are.  If you don’t want to click through – they are suing a bunch of fans for creating a prequel to the original Star Trek without copyright permission.

This is the same mistake that the music companies made back in the early days of Napster, but exponentially worse.  At least in those cases, the users were copying the music exactly.  At the time, the music labels could logically (although incorrectly) think that it was a one-to-one loss of sales.

But this is fundamentally different.  Fan fiction is clearly a pathway to more purchasing, not less.  More movie tickets sold.  More themed video games sold.  More TV streaming (subscription or ad-based). More action figures sold.  More talk on social media (free publicity).  More engagement with the brand.  More advocacy of the brand.

What the hell are they thinking?  Bunch of idiots !!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

This Week in EID - Episode 86

This is the last week of EID for the year.  On behalf of the team at EID, I want to thank you for your support.  Whether you are the occasional reader, the active commenter, a frequent sharer, or some combination thereof. Without you, we would just be yelling into a canyon to hear our voice echo back at us.

A quick summary of the week.   

Monday had a fun story about end user license agreements and some karmic comeuppance.

Tuesday was a great example that the middle path is almost always better than the absolutist claims some designers, researchers, or policymakers try to force upon us. In this case on the balance of sensory mindfulness, cognitive focus, and mindwandering aimlessness. 

Wednesday shared a great cognitive heuristic that can lead to self-delusion.  When we rely on our smartphones to immediately access whatever information we need at the time, we significantly overestimate our own expertise and knowledge.  We lose track that we didn’t actually know anything, we looked it up.  It was just so fast that the help didn’t get tagged onto the memory.

Then Thursday we had the annual Goal Setting article, hopefully to help you make more effective New Year’s Resolutions as well as setting other kinds of goals throughout the year. 

We will ramp back up again on January 4th and I hope you will join us as we continue this journey into social media discussion and debate about Human Factors, Ergonomics, and all kinds of related topics, sciences, and domains.

Have a safe New Year Eve, a wonderful 2016, and see you on the other side.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Siege Science

I am reading a fascinating book called Captivity by the Hungarian author Yorgy Spiro. I am really enjoying it, but it is certainly not a light read and the translation makes it even harder.  Plus it is 850 pages long.

The book takes place in the 1st century Roman Empire. It centers on the Jewish son of a freed slave who lived in Rome until his 15th birthday and they gets caught up in some adventures. I am not sure how accurate the historical narrative is, but if it is true I probably learned more about history over the past 500 pages (halfway through!!) than I learned in high school.

The book itself is a topic for another time.  What I want to stream of consciousness (is that a verb?) for a few minutes is something that the one of the characters was wondering about – what are the relevant sciences (natural and social) important to develop in anticipation of your walled city being besieged by an invading army.  Remember, we are talking about 1st century warfare here so this was a pretty important subject.  And 1st century technology means a lot of this was not yet developed. 

Here is my list:

  • Food chemistry: How do you dry and preserve enough of the right foods to keep a large urban population nutritionally supplied for an unknown extended time?
  • Toxicology: How do you check the water supply coming in from outside to make sure it has not been poisoned? And if possible, how do you poison the attacking army’s water?
  • Medicine: What medicines need to be stockpiled and in what quantities?
  • Public Health: How do you check for disease outbreaks and treat them quickly and effectively before panic breaks out? Remember, no one can leave the city.
  • Structural Mechanics: How do you keep the city walls from succumbing to the digging under the wall and ballista impacts?
  • Economics: How do you divide resources among the military and civilian populations in the city to be fair and to be safe?
  • Psychology: How do you deal with residents who succumb to panic and prevent fear from becoming widespread?  And depression.  How do you inflict psychological damage on the attackers?
  • Sociology: How do you prevent mass panics and rumors from spreading?
  • Communication: How do you communicate with allies in free cities at a distance?
  • Cryptology: How do you encode messages to be sent out with agents trying to break through the siege line and get to allies outside the city?
  • Urban Planning: If your city is planning ahead, how do you create storage for food, water, military supplies, etc. so that you can stockpile enough product without bankrupting the city in the meanwhile?

Some of these are relevant today.  They might be relevant for space travel and colonization.  They might be relevant for emergency planning in advance of climate change.  They might be relevant for something like Ebola outbreaks.

But really it was just a fun mental exercise.