Monday, November 21, 2011

Human Capital: 7 Billion Is Just A Start

Earth now has 7 billion people. Should we prepare for the catastrophic?

In 1968, "The Population Bomb," that warned of famines in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation and advised governments to impose population growth limits. Despite it being a tome of gloom and barbarism, the book became a best-seller.

Predictions of mass human tragedy by end-of-the-worlders have always been wrong and spectacularly so. We have had an uncanny way of using our minds to overcome all of the environmental challenges we've faced.

No one can say what the right number of people is for this planet. Perhaps population growth is not a plague, but an opportunity. Some would say that humans are in fact a resource, an infinite form of capital. More people mean more minds able to solve problems and sustain human progress.

And if not, there's always Soylent Green

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gamification as Important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon

Talk about hype! Thanks Gartner.

Who loves trend report Memeburn besides meme? Good coverage on Gartner's reckoning -- that by 2014, more than 70% of the Forbes’ major companies will have at least one “gamified” application.

The research company says that although the current “success” of gamification is largely driven by novelty and hype, it is positioned to become a “highly significant trend” over the next five years.
Gamification is the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems, motivate people and engage audiences.

Typically gamification applies to non-game sites and applications in order to encourage users to adopt them. Gamification works by making technology more engaging, by encouraging users to engage in desired behaviours, by showing a path to “mastery” and “autonomy”, and by taking advantage of humans’ psychological predisposition to engage in games.

Gamification can encourage people to perform chores that they ordinarily consider boring, such as completing surveys, shopping, filling out tax forms, or reading web sites. “Gamification aims to inspire deeper, more engaged relationships and to change behaviour, but it needs to be implemented thoughtfully,” said Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner. “Most attempts at gamification currently miss the mark, but successful and sustainable gamification can convert customers into fans, turn work into fun, or make learning a joy. The potential is enormous.”

For a gamified application truly to engage its audience, three key ingredients must be present and correctly positioned: motivation, momentum and meaning (collectively known as “M³”).

According to Burke: “The vast majority of gamified applications today lack or misplace at least one of these ingredients, which means gamified applications run the risk of falling into disuse, once their novelty wears off.”

Motivation is inspired by most of today’s gamified applications primarily by offering extrinsic rewards and/or weak intrinsic rewards to direct behavioural changes. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside an individual and is inspired by rewards such as money and grades. Intrinsic motivation exists within an individual and derives from that person’s interest in, or enjoyment of, the task.
“Framing the right motivations is an important consideration when designing gamified applications,” said Burke. “It’s essential to use the right mix of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, combined with appropriate player relationships — competitive or collaborative.”

Momentum depends on sustained engagement. In gaming, momentum is achieved by balancing the difficulty of the challenges presented with the skill levels of the players. If players find challenges too easy, they will soon get bored. On the other hand, if challenges are too difficult, players will become frustrated. Gamified applications need to engage players quickly and maintain their engagement through deft use of game mechanics such as challenges, rules, chance, rewards and levels.

Meaning is about serving a larger purpose. To succeed, gamified applications must provide rewards that are meaningful to the participants. Different people will find different rewards and incentives meaningful, but many will value opportunities to help charities through donations, lose weight, master a specific skill or achieve a significant task.

“Gamification could become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon,” said Burke. “During 2012, 20 per cent of Global 2000 organisations will deploy a gamified application. IT leaders must start exploring opportunities to use gamification to increase engagement with customers and employees, with the aim of deploying a gamified application next year. Understanding how to apply game mechanics to motivate positive behavioural change is critical to success.”

Monday, November 7, 2011

Think Outside the Box, With Games

The next time that your department needs to come up with the innovative solution that will bring prominence to the company, make a bee-line for your local Gamestop and pick up a videogame. In a recent research study conducted at the Michigan State University's Children and Technology Project, about 500 12-year-olds in Michigan were tested to determine the effect of games on creativity. The results? Children who play video games are more creative.

The children were given creative thinking tests – shown a drawing and asked to expand on it or comment on what it means – and then asked about their use of cell phones, computers, the Internet and video games. With video games was there a correlation to creativity, the researchers say, and that was true for boys and girls, and across all races.

"Not only are (video games) not all bad, there's some 'intellectual' good to be found in playing them," says the project's lead investigator Linda Jackson, a professor of psychology at Michigan State.