Founder, author, speaker

Welcome to this week's brain food. These aim to be short and easy to digest pieces that enrich your work and life with simple ideas and principles.

Doing things the way it's always been done leaves no room for learning and so, improving

2023 year progress: 21% complete

Today in a nutshell

  • Survivorship bias in daily work and life
  • Using Midjourney's latest release to imagine app concepts
  • The potential health benefits of chillis

Survivorship bias in work and life

Survivorship bias is a logical error where we build beliefs based on historic successes without considering historic failures in the same set of information.

For example: we might think that building a social media app in the 2000's was a missed opportunity, but we only look at the success of Facebook. How many social media apps failed? The Globe, described as the first social network, with 1.3 million users, failed. PowWow, an unusual social network by the eccentric John McAfee, with 2 million users, failed. Bebo, an interest-based social network, with 10.7 million users, failed (but seems to have been be rebooted in 2021).

So how can we better understand survivorship bias and look out for it in the world, our work, and our lives?

In the world

In World War II, battle planes returning safely had bullet holes everywhere except for the engine and cockpit, so we must reinforce those areas, correct?
Wrong: The engines and cockpit of the planes that didn't return were likely damaged, so reinforcing those areas should better protect the plane and pilot.

In our work

Say we're working on a banking app and platform. The Pay Now and Buy Data feature are the most used features, but by the smallest percentage of registered users, so we must focus on paying and buying in our marketing campaigns, correct?
Wrong: Paying and buying are ubiquitous concepts in today. This means that users are already active on those features. The question should be "why aren't people using the other features". Perhaps it's an education exercise to better inform people about the features, what the benefits might be, and how they actually work, or the features don't actually solve a problem in the way they need to.

In our lives

Let's imagine that in our own skillset, excellence in coding and data wrangling has afforded us many project successes. So we must focus on those core skills, correct?
Wrong: Skills that have earned success in the past have brought us to where we are now, but to go further, we must refine or learn skills where we are weak, and have value towards our goals. There tends to be a ceiling on how far certain skills can take you. More about expiring and permanent skills in a future brain food edition.

In everything you do, look for the converse factors of success, or even the converse factors of failure. By evaluating the entirety of situations, we can make better decisions and nudge closer to success.

Survivorship bias is an interesting concept to think about and explore with your team. Why not host a casual and fun discussion with Interacts, a tool we've built to enhance hybrid collaboration.

Midjourney 5 app design

Midjourney version 5 has been released recently. It boasts significant improvements in prompt understanding and accuracy, and is more aesthetically feasible for photo-realistic images. With that said, it's much slower that version 4.

Midjourney is a powerful companion to ideate concepts and get the brain warmed up when solving design problems in the software world. One drawback of Midjourney has been the ability to generate human-readable text and coherent user interface designs.

In this experiment, I challenged Midjourney to generate different types of app user interface designs, and evaluated the "reasoning" of the results.  

Some observations based on the results, including images not shown here:

  • Banking and investments: There is almost always an abundance of charts in the app concepts. The AI seems to have related charts as a core visual for banking and investments, and so, floods the interface with these diagrams.
  • Fitness guide and tracker: Almost all images included "inspiring photos" of fit people. Although popular fitness apps don't necessarily focus on this, the AI seems to understand this as being a core aspect of fitness related content.
    * AI still has a little trouble with body proportions, see the abnormal limbs on the runner.
  • Fresh produce delivery: These results includes many mouthwatering vibrant images of fruit and vegetables. Most, almost too perfect to be real fresh produce that you might expect to be delivered. With that said, it could be a good tactic to attract users.
  • Music streaming: Unusually, these concepts included many statistic charts and reports about the music. I can't think of popular music apps that highlight this as a core feature - this category is perplexing.
  • Kids eduction content: These app concepts tend to concentrate on faces of kids, photorealistic, but predominantly animated, and mostly kids with lighter skin tones. This could be attributed to the dataset that the AI was trained on.
  • Sticky notes and todos: The aesthetic of these concepts resembles a "messy" but organised feeling of a whiteboard in an office space. An app like this might be great for brain dumping ideas and organising thoughts.

How to you see AI changing the way we design software and products? Engage with me on LinkedIn.

Spicy benefits

Can chillies help fight cancer? Chillies have been discovered to aid in the prevention of certain lifestyle diseases, like certain types of cancer and stomach ulcers, due to their abundance of vitamin C and antioxidants. Additionally, their ability to generate heat in the body has been associated with weight loss and a decreased likelihood of developing type II diabetes.

Download the full "Ideas everyone should know" eBook here.

I hope you enjoyed and was enriched by this edition! If you missed the previous edition, read about Metric-driven effort.

Try Interacts & FancyGPT

I'm dedicated to building solutions that make people more productive and happy. I'd love it if you tried my projects, and appreciate any feedback you have, email me.

🧩 Interacts:  A remote and hybrid collaboration tool for engaging workshops, retrospectives, team building and more –

🤖 FancyGPT: A Chrome extension to save and share beautiful ChatGPT snippets as images, searchable PDFs, and text files –

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