Apparently, I’m poachable

Surprise, surprise…this morning I found myself on an estimable list: Betabeat’s Spring 2012 Most Poachable Players in Tech

Well, I’ll admit, I’m flattered and excited. Not specifically because it’s nice to be desired or considered such, but because I’m on a list with some frakking awesome people (BSG fan here). Like this guy, Justin Isaf. I work with him every day. In fact, I recruited the guy and persuaded him that we would be building the next generation of community platforms for media sites. I think we’re doing that right now.

If you want to work with two of the most poachable people in tech this Spring, we’ve got an opening for a Community Developer. And if you want to see next gen comments, stay up at night pondering what a smarter take on threading conversations might be, and want to work on a kick-ass team….email me: elena [at]

Not nerding out about threaded conversations? Well…you’re boring! For those of you that dream of using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Spotify, etc APIs in your daily coding lives, we have two Social Media Developer positions open as well.

I just thought I would use this little moment in what could be a real ego trip to say, I’m a part of a dream team forming. If you want to be a part of it, let me know.


Reinventing Liveblogging; or Go Team!

Congrats to everyone involved in the latest improvements to Liveblog and especially cool that our #Occupy coverage is being highlighted here.

markcoatney via Tumblr


Pukin’ Punkin.

Anyone know who took this, tell us so that we may credit the genius.

Beyond the Battlefield: great series about veterans on The Huffington Post

Such an important series. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that has paid so much attention to veterans and veterans’ organizations like the IAVA whose founders and members found an early home for their message on our platform. While other media companies have ignored or marginalized veterans’ point of view, HuffPost has given them a voice.

I think we’re able to do this because we are not tied to old media news cycles. I also think our focus on bloggers has given a lot of people like Paul Rieckhoff, founder of IAVA (who met Arianna at an airport, carried her bags, and got into a conversation that lead to an invite to blog on HuffPost) a way to amplify their voice and message.

New Catalyst report debunks some myths about women's career paths

From Joan Williams on the Huffington Post

The Catalyst report takes aim at the claim — now almost taken for a truism in business literature - thatwomen don’t ask for promotions and salary increases at the same level as men. According to the Catalyst report, women were actually found to ask more than men for both increased compensation (63% of women to 54% of men) and a higher job position (19% of women and 17% of men) when they moved on from their first job. And yet, despite the popular wisdom that an employee willing to move to a new company has more negotiating power, women who moved around in their career earned an average of $53,472 less than their counterparts who stayed at the same company.

From a report entitled Penalities of Success: Reactions to Women Who Succeed at Male Gender-Typed Tasks

The results, which demonstrated that penalties for

success were exacted when the job was male gender-typed but not

when it was female gender-typed or neutral in gender type, made

clear that success is not in and of itself anathema for women. It is

only when the success implies that gender-stereotypic norms have

been violated that it induces social penalties.

What starts as a toy...

1) get rejected more
2) climb the right hill
3) create an amazing toy
4) grow that toy into something big that transforms an important industry

DE:NATURED: Jonathan Stark's Social Experiment With Collaborative Consumption


Sure, I majored in the sciences during college but you didn’t have to be a scientist to participate in the social experiment, Jonathan’s Card. What started as a local project amongst friends quickly blew up to become a national barometer of generosity and collective sharing.

The man behind…

Life-spanning the app

Most consumer-facing apps are not built with longevity in mind. Instead, they are built to engage enough people for the few months or years it takes to either lose the audience and flame out as a startup, or to succeed by selling it and its community to a larger company.

However, there is another form of app emerging—a life-spanning, or long-form app if you will—that is less focused on short-term high growth and inherently more demanding of the user’s engagement over longer periods of time.

These apps aim to change behavior over longer periods of time, and/or to capitalize upon habitual behaviors. Some, but not all, employ social pressure through a combination of social features like sharing status and progress on Facebook and Twitter; and overt or subtle forms of gamification such as passive stats, challenges, points, incentives, and user ranking.

The primary area in which these apps are beginning to emerge is in health. The reasons are obvious. Our health and wellness are things we are concerned about and therefore engaged with long-term.

The growing interest in personal tracking and self quantification has produced a whole list of ‘lifespan’ apps, some of which focus on niche audiences like runners (MapMyRun), dieters (LiveStrong) or recovering addicts (AAAStepsAway for iPhone and Android).

Another significant area in long-form apps is undoubtedly in response to the ongoing recession and people’s sense of ignorance and powerlessness in the face of the financial meltdown. Mint, Learnvest, and a few others combine financial management advice with pragmatic tools that enable you to track your financials, set goals, and prompt better decisions about your money.

Essentially, the surge in apps for health, quantified self, and financial management tells us that there is a need for longer-term thinking in product design. Apps that capitalize upon what is already habitual behavior on the part of the user are more likely to succeed, even if the app itself seems fairly unsophisticated.

The tricky part of creating apps like these has got to be the process of altering behavior and keeping people engaged long term. I mean, we’re all pretty entrenched in our habits. I know I am. :)

For example, I am by no means an athlete but it’s fairly easy for me to whip myself into shape if I’m feeling slovenly enough. My tendency is go every day and work my ass off (literally) for a month, modify my diet in some extreme way, and slim down a couple sizes fast. Once I stop feeling like a bloated waste of space, I stop going again. It’s sad how many gym memberships I’ve gone through in this way.

I have tried LiveStrong, various diet tracking tools like’s Calorie Counter (surprisingly good), and in RL, trainers.

In my own self-analysis, I find that pairing up with someone who triggers my competitive streak and my guilt simultaneously is the single best motivator for me to change my lazy ways. My use of self-tracking tools tends to be supplementary to that actual relationship.

This is not unusual, and that’s why some dieting and exercise apps incorporate gamification and your personal networks to tap into those social motivators.

For me, self-efficacy effects the goals I set for myself. I attribute my low goal-setting behavior (in diet and fitness) to my upbringing which did not encourage engagement in sports or physical activity (but rather focused on intellectual and artistic development). The goals I set are in turn impacted by social environment. If I pair myself with someone with more self-efficacy and bigger goals, my goal-threshold is raised. This combination determines my success in behavioral change.

Self-efficacy influences the effort one puts forth to change risk behavior and the persistence to continue striving despite barriers and setbacks that may undermine motivation. Self-efficacy is directly related to health behavior, but it also affects health behaviors indirectly through its impact on goals. Self-efficacy influences the challenges that people take on as well as how high they set their goals (e.g., “I intend to reduce my smoking,” or “I intend to quit smoking altogether”). A number of studies on the adoption of health practices have measured self-efficacy to assess its potential influences in initiating behavior change (Luszczynska, & Schwarzer, 2005).

I would hazard a guess that self-efficacy and social factors are the primary motivators of people under 30, while people 30 and above may require additional motivators (such as a severe illness and/or decline in health) as a result of habitual behaviors.

This is problematic when you consider that mobile apps—which are arguably more effective in monitoring behavior (because they potentially require less input)— are consumed more widely by young people. Young people’s motivators are different and their behaviors are less established. Older people, by contrast, are more likely to require behavioral change, but less likely to download and in turn use mobile apps. In fact:

while 43% of adult cell phone users have apps on their phone, significantly fewer (29%) have actually downloaded an app.  The remaining 14% only have preloaded apps on their phone.

It’s worth looking at this breakdown from the Pew Internet report:

To me this suggests that an initiative towards pre-loading health apps on mobile phones might be worth pursuing. Perhaps corporations that pay for their employees’ cell phones might consider it a worthwhile addition to their agreements with cell phone service providers to offer pre-loaded health apps or incentives to their employees to download them.

The other challenge to long-term tracking and behavioral change apps is the data on repeat usage. According to Localytics 26% of mobile apps downloaded in 2010 were used just once: 

This in turn suggests that long-term behavioral change apps targeted towards adults should be tied to RL motivators. Doctors prescribe medicine. Why don’t they prescribe or at least suggest apps? By the same token, financial advisers should recommend apps like Mint—and perhaps app companies like Mint should create ‘financial coach’ accounts and/or family accounts to increase social motivators.

Adult behavioral change is harder. Incorporating financial, professional, and health-related incentives may differentiate a successful app from an unsuccessful one. Coming up with ways of partnering with corporations, cell-phone providers, health providers, and insurance companies to provide pre-loaded apps, prescribe them, or offer incentives for their use might be the way to alter adult app usage behavior and in turn, their lifestyle.

All you refugees out there

Dude. I don’t know what’s wrong with my name (because I think it’s awesome!) but you have great insights into the design community and obviously understand the antispec perspec. So thanks for engaging in ye old diablogue. I hereby link out to you in good faith.

And for those of you without principles…you know where I am. ;)