This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.
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“Hey Watson, what’s my personality?”
IBM Watson’s Personality Insights
A well-accepted theory of psychology, marketing, and other fields is that human language reflects personality, thinking style, social connections, and emotional states. The frequency with which we use certain categories of words can provide clues to these characteristics. Several researchers found that variations in word usage in writings such as blogs, essays, and tweets can predict aspects of personality.
IBM conducted a set of studies to understand whether personality characteristics inferred from social media data can predict people’s behavior and preferences.
40 Year Anthem
It was 1977, and we were leaving a photography session on 23rd Street. Jacques Morali saw the big pink YMCA on 23rd and asked, “What is this YMCA, anyway? “And after laughing at his accent, we told him the Y was a place where you could go when you first came to New York when you didn’t have any money — you can stay there for very little. And of course, someone joked, “Yeah, but don’t bend over in the showers. “And Jacques, bless his heart, said, “I will write a song about this!”
The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food
Frito-Lay had a formidable research complex near Dallas, where nearly 500 chemists, psychologists and technicians conducted research that cost up to $30 million a year, and the science corps focused intense amounts of resources on questions of crunch, mouth feel and aroma for each of these items. Their tools included a $40,000 device that simulated a chewing mouth to test and perfect the chips, discovering things like the perfect break point: people like a chip that snaps with about four pounds of pressure per square inch.
To get a better feel for their work, I called on Steven Witherly, a food scientist who wrote a fascinating guide for industry insiders titled, “Why Humans Like Junk Food.” I brought him two shopping bags filled with a variety of chips to taste. He zeroed right in on the Cheetos. “This,” Witherly said, “is one of the most marvelously constructed foods on the planet, in terms of pure pleasure.” He ticked off a dozen attributes of the Cheetos that make the brain say more. But the one he focused on most was the puff’s uncanny ability to melt in the mouth. “It’s called vanishing caloric density,” Witherly said. “If something melts down quickly, your brain thinks that there’s no calories in it… you can just keep eating it forever.”
- The Various Canine Gaits Animated with Tracked Paw Prints
- Footage of Choreography for Rocky (1976)
- America’s Quietest Routes
- Tour of the Moon in 4K
Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts
We deify willpower and self-control, and mock its absence. People who achieve through remarkable willpower are “strong” and “heroic.” People who need help or structure are “weak.” This is crazy—because few of us can accurately gauge or predict our willpower. We not only overestimate it, we chronically underestimate the power of triggers in our environment to lead us astray. Our environment is a magnificent willpower-reduction machine.
- Marshall Goldsmith
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A bit about me: I can be interested in anything, for better or worse. I love photography, travel, golf, and baseball. My latest pursuit is learning the guitar. I write a rad newsletter that I publish monthly.