1000 Days of User-Visible Improvements

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
By dreeves
An unfinished / unpolished Beeminder bee, being beeminded.

A version of this article appeared on the Beeminder Blog. This is the rest of the story, about how Beeminder bet $1000 on bettering Beeminder every day, then failed and had to actually cough up the $1000 to a lucky user. But only after making 1000 improvements in 1000 days... »

Popping the Filter Bubble

Saturday, November 30, 2013
By Sharad Goel
Elephants and donkeys in their own bubbles

In his provocative TED talk and bestselling book, the progressive internet activist Eli Pariser tells the story of how one day he noticed that the Facebook posts from his politically conservative friends began disappearing from his newsfeed. Pariser traces this phenomenon back to Facebook’s recommendation algorithms, which looked at the links he clicked, effectively... »

Yootles Postmortem

Thursday, October 31, 2013
By dreeves
Gravestone with 'Yootles RIP May 1, 2006 - August 15, 2009

I introduced the social currency (or scrip) Yootles in 2006 with the (needless to say, quixotic) goal of changing the social norms about money. We had two specific reasons for an alternative currency: We wanted to run prediction markets and needed a way around anti-gambling laws in the US Many people find the idea of using money... »

Forecasting Elections with Dirty Data

Monday, September 30, 2013
By Sharad Goel
Anthropomorphized statistics rebalancing a scale with masses of men on one side and a lone female on the other

During the 1936 U.S. presidential campaign, the popular magazine Literary Digest conducted a mail-in election poll that attracted over two million responses, a huge sample even by today’s standards. Unfortunately for them, size isn’t the only thing that matters. Literary Digest notoriously and erroneously predicted a landslide victory for Republican candidate Alf Landon. In reality,... »

Google Glass(es)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013
By dreeves
Google Glass hovering in the sky

I’ve been wearing Google glasses every day for almost three months now. If you’re excited enough about Google Glass to be reading yet another review of them then I shall proceed to burst your bubble. But I’ll start with the good parts! These things are super light, comfortable, and indestructible. They’ve survived significant rain a couple... »

This is Viral

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
By Sharad Goel
Viral dots

If the nineteenth century French sociologist Gustav Le Bon were alive today, he’d probably be running a wildly successful viral marketing firm. Alas, Le Bon was a hundred years ahead of his time. In his influential work, “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind,” Le Bon argues that, “the opinions and beliefs of... »