cia around pissing off the mac community

June 11, 2006

John Dvorak explains how he pisses off Mac fans to get more hits to his columns.


CIA + Hip Hop

May 12, 2006

Let's play a word association game with the CIA Hip Hop project:

  • group think. I think the entire class came to this conclusion early on that filling up the CoHo would be easy. It turned out tonight that it wouldn't. k.flay's draw was underwhelming. Perhaps we overestimated how many people she would bring in, but I think the timing of her performance was bad — she had already performed twice last week, so her own fan base may have been spent. Also, no mention of tonight's concert is on her website.
  • free riders. The class as a whole made a decision to unify to try to send a consistent message out. However, this came with the cost of having to manage everyone and reducing each person's accountability. I wonder what would've happened if each team had tried to do things themselves. I still think we would've had to collaborate to some degree, but maybe we joined up on too many action items.
  • apathy. "Of course there's no one here, this is midterms week" — random undergrad at the CoHo. It's definitely hard to get Stanford students to go to a concert of an artist they've never heard of.
  • saturation. "Way too much chalk, I heard people say that the chalking was lame. I just want to see the pavement!" — acquaintance of mine, 12:30am. Could've told me sooner…
  • fun. Of course, all of my comments are made in hindsight. I still enjoyed trying different ways to spread hip hop, and we were still able to get people to come to the concert. I have fun working with my team and the coaches. In retrospect, I think one thing we can take into the next project is to be more critical of ideas during the evaluation stage. Also, I think we should try to pay more attention to potential signals, e.g. the low attendance at the flash concert should've indicated to us that maybe current marketing campaign wasn't working.

SaveGranny launches

May 2, 2006

We’ve been working hard on the last two weeks, and I’m proud to announce that we’ve officially launched. The site has been mentioned on reddit, and we’re even getting leads from fark and stumbleupon…

Saturday and Sunday definitely marked an upward trend for the # of visits to the site. We got around 1100 uniques on Saturday and then 2900 on Sunday, after averaging around 200 uniques/day from Wednesday-Friday.

If you like the site, please digg it

Spreading Firefox

April 14, 2006

Tasks I’ve done so far:

  • Created an account on
  • Created, which is for all the class to use.
  • Skimmed the Intro, FAQ
  • Started reading the forums
  • Joined the IRC channel (after installing ChatZilla)
  • Made my home page.

Project n^2: Why CIA? Revisited

April 13, 2006

I showed the post below to my roommate Chris, who suggested to make this more personal, and to go deeper. To address those points, I will “rewrite” the post below.

I’ve been fascinated lately with Sudoku. Playing Sudoku has changed my routine enough that I’ll usually visit even before eating breakfast. Last month, I was waiting at the doctor’s office, and I noticed an older woman pull a Sudoku book out of her purse and start playing. That’s when I knew it became a movement. Walk into any bookstore, and you’ll notice all the books dedicated to this simple crossword game. Besides playing, I’ve attempted to become a student of the game, playing only hard puzzles and learning about X-Wing and Swordfish, some of the more advanced Sudoku strategies.

Why is Sudoku so popular? There are probably a ton of factors at play here. Clearly, the game is addictive because like most great games, the rules are simple yet the puzzle is challenging. Solving the game requires only logic and patience, not a great memory of pop culture. When playing the game, there’s definitely a sense that finding the solution requires skill. The game is foreign, originating from Japan, where the Western style of crossword puzzle doesn’t really work.

With most fads, it’s easy to point out some factors that appear to trigger success. Figuring out beforehand whether a trend will take off or not is much harder. Thus, what I would like to get out of CIA is a framework for analyzing current trends. More specifically, at the end of the quarter, I would like to see what appears to be a “trend”, go through some step-by-step analysis and then finally be able to have a sense of whether that trend is sustainable.

Project n^2: Network and Asking for Support

April 12, 2006

The way I've approached analyzing my network is still in progress. I've tried drawing out some of my network:

 My Network
I have however, began asking for support. What I did was create a Facebook group where I'd explain to people that I'm taking this class, and that I'd like their support. All I ask is for them to join the group and if they want, post a message explaining what fads they're currently into.

At first, I personally asked people to join. Here's a copy of an e-mail I sent out to a few friends:

Subj: Help!

Hey everybody,

I'm taking a class titled ME 228: Creating Infectious Action, which is all about studying and executing efforts to spread behavior. My first assignment is to identify my network and ask for some support. So what I've done is create a Facebook group called: "Infectious Action", and all I want is for you to join it. If you could take even a little more of your time and describe what fads you're currently caught up in, that'd be even better. I'll also be sending you Facebook invites, just to make it a little easier.



Another approach I used was to message people on AIM. Typically, a conversation would go as follows:

me: hey _____, may i ask for a super small favor? it's painless i swear

friend: sure, what's up?

me: so i'm in this class called Creating Infectious Action, which is about how trends and fads start

me: and my first assignment is to analyze my network and ask people for support

me: so i created a facebook group, and if you could join it and maybe post a message about what fads you're interested in, i would appreicate it. I'll send the invite now.
friend: sure, no problem

Both approaches worked well, and I got up to about 20 members this way, and quite a few of them posted on the message board. My next technique is to actually just send the invite on Facebook without "asking for a favor" first. This seems to be cheapest way to do this, and hopefully since it's just a Facebook Group invite, it won't piss anybody off.

Edit: As of 1:56PM, my Facebook group has 60 members and 23 comments on the message board.  So far, what I've concluded is that I get a better yield when I personally ask someone to join the group and explain why I'm doing this.  However, this takes more time.  It's cheaper for me to just send Facebook invites and hope that they read the group description and are compelled to join.  However, when sending Facebook invites, I get a lower yield (not sure what %, since Facebook doesn't report any data back to me, and I didn't record how many I sent out), and of those who do join, less are likely to actually post something.   Another drawback of using Facebook is that only people who are within my college network can actually join the group.  I knew this when I created the group, but I figured asking people to join a Facebook group would be an innocent enough request.  Furthermore, my Stanford network consists of the connections I eventually want to leverage the most, so I might as well learn more about this set of people.

Project n^2: Why CIA?

April 11, 2006

I'm currently taking a course at Stanford called Creating Infectious Action, and this is what I want to get out of this course:

  • a perspective on how to start lasting trends, and how to identify which crazes are going to eventually fizzle out and which will actually stay in the collective consciousness
  • learn to use my network more effectively
  • apply design thinking to meaningful projects
  • add some valuable connections and diversity to my network
  • meet and discuss with really interesting people
  • have fun and "free" food every Thursday from 3p-7p