Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Mark Twain once observed, “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus public-health scares circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideas–business people, teachers, politicians, journalists, and others–struggle to make their ideas “stick.”

Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In Made to Stick, accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath tackle head-on these vexing questions. Inside, the brothers Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the “human scale principle,” using the “Velcro Theory of Memory,” and creating “curiosity gaps.”

In this indispensable guide, we discover that sticky messages of all kinds–from the infamous “kidney theft ring” hoax to a coach’s lessons on sportsmanship to a vision for a new product at Sony–draw their power from the same six traits.

Made to Stick is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures)–the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of “the Mother Teresa Effect”; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.

The Night of Your Life: A Slow Wave Production

Cartoonist Jesse Reklaw turns the dreams of strangers into the most insightful, humorous, and clever four-panel comic strips you have ever read in The Night of Your Life. This hardcover volume captures the sublime pleasure of tumbling through the freewheeling narrative of our sleeping lives. Each strip is an adaptation of the many dreams submitted to Reklaw from all over the world, every one a unique and compelling journey into a landscape to which we all travel. The Night of Your Life is a testament to the ability of comics to illuminate the corridors of the imagination with wit, sincerity, and joy.

It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff

When Peter Walsh, organizational guru of TLC’s hit show Clean Sweep and a regular contributor to The Oprah Winfrey Show, appeared on national television shows and told people how they could reclaim their lives from the suffocating burden of their clutter, the response was overwhelming. People flooded Peter’s website (www.peterwalshdesign.com) with success stories about how his book had changed their lives.

Peter’s unique approach helped people everywhere learn to let go of the emotional and psychological clutter that was literally and figuratively choking the life out of their homes.

With his good humor and reassuring advice, Peter shows you how to face the really big question: What is the vision for the life you want to live? He then offers simple techniques and a step-by-step plan to assess the state of your home, prioritize your possessions, and let go of the clutter you have been holding on to that has kept you from living the life you imagine. The result is freed-up space, less stress, and more energy for living a happier, richer life every day.

Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming

“[A] solid how-to book…For amateur dream researchers, this is a must.”
WHOLE EARTH REVIEW
This book goes far beyond the confines of pop dream psychology, establishing a scientifically researched framework for using lucid dreaming–that is, consciously influencing the outcome of your dreams. Based on Dr. Stephen LaBerge’s extensive laboratory work at Stanford University mapping mind/body relationships during the dream state, as well as the teachings of Tibetan dream yogis and the work of other scientists, including German psycholgist Paul Tholey, this practical workbook will show you how to use your dreams to: Solve problems; Gain greater confidence; improve creativity, and more.

The Art of Dreaming

For once, I haven’t forgot to wear the little armband that comes with my sleep phase tracking alarm clock (I’ll write a review of it soonish) and everything worked perfectly: I was woken up right after a dream (and thus REM phase) was ending, well-rested and alert.

This also made me remember the dream that I was seeing. Believe it or not, all I did in that dream was look at modern art at the Guggenheim museum (the one in New York).

Dreamblog : Deadprogrammer Takes A Picture Of Respected Leader’s Wife

Saw this dream yesterday morning :

I was walking by Kim Jong Il, who looked rather silly. I really wanted to take a candid picture of him, but did not want to be thrown in jail for that. I saw a Japanese reporter photograph him, and decided to ask for permission. Respected Leader did not want to have his picture taken, but said that I could take a picture of his wife. She started walking through the palace. When passing through a dungeon she was overcome by a pain in her leg. I thought that the ghosts of women killed by her husband were causing her that pain. Finally we made it outside. She sat down on a brick parapet. The Sun and the Moon were in the sky at the same time. Also in the background was the spire of the AIG building. I started to take the picture, but the camera lens fell apart in my hands.

Although, to me the AIG building is the Ace Of Swords, not the Tower.

The Glory of Short-Term Memory

I am reading Bob Cringely’s monumental rant, “Accidental Empires“. One thing that he mentions in the very beginning makes a lot of sense to me.

Cringely talks about the importance of short-term memory to programmers. He briefly mentions George Miller’s research and goes on to quote the Hungarian:

“I have to really concentrate, and I might even get a headache just trying to imagine something clearly and distinctly with twenty or thirty components,” Simonyi said. “When I was young, I could easily imagine a castle with twenty rooms with each room having ten different objects in it. I can’t do that anymore.”

Basically, Cringely says that while normal people have a short term memory of Miller’s magic 7 items, really great programmers have short term memory measured in the hundreds.

I always knew that my painfully average short term memory is a horrible handicap. For instance, my inability to hold a large number of items in memory was a big drawback in my fast food career. I did great as working in the Nathan’s Famous clam bar where there were only a few types of items that I had to sell (namely half-dozens of clams, clam chowder and drinks). But when I had to work the seafood counter where orders included frog legs, clam strips, shrimps, fish fillets, crab patties, hot dog nuggets, onion rings, french (freedom) fries, clam chowder , drinks and a bunch of other stuff I don’t remember anymore combined in all kinds of combos and specials — well, that was hard.

When I worked as a doorman, keeping track of hundreds of guests, contractors and delivery people entering and building was also pretty tough for me. This kind of made me realize that I would not be able to become an efficient physician because a) I would not be able to keep track of all of my patients and b) although I could pull a 48 hour shift, I was barely fit to operate the mop after 24 hours. I felt kind of like Apu during his 96 hour shift.


Woods: Hey, you’re Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, aren’t you? I mean, you’re
the — you’re like _the_ guy, you’re a legend around here. Can I
ask you, is it true you once worked 96 hours straight?
Apu: Oh yes, it was horrible I tell you. By the end I thought I was a
hummingbird of some kind.
Woods: Oh yeah, you know, I studied your old security tapes.
[On tape, Apu imitates a hummingbird, flying back and forth
across the screen and emitting a high-pitched humming noise]
Apu: In a few minutes, I tried to drink nectar out of Sanjay’s head.

In any case, my fabulous associative long term memory, you know, the thing that enables me to spout Simpsons references and remember little details from books that I read serves me very well. But I feel that the lack of short term memory is what stands between me and the greatness and glory of being a great hacker. That and some other organizational and focusing issues.

I really wonder if great hackers invariably possess abnormal short term memory. You know, I have no doubt that the greatest hackers of all time, Von Neumann and Tesla had tremendous short term memory which was different from that exhibited by circus performers. Not only could they remember thousands of objects, but they could also make machines or programs out of them, run them and debug them, all in memory.

But what about a programmer of lj user=jwz’s, avva’s or brad’s caliber? I bet an above average hacker must have above average short-term memory.

Anyway, it’s getting rather late and I can’t find any serious online memory tests. Maybe I’ll put one together myself later. Here are two simple ones:
Picture Test
Verbal test from some anti-drug site
[Added this note in the morning] Try not to use any special means of remembering – for instance grouping of objects in any way, making up a story with the items or words, etc. We are looking for an effortless and natural above average short term memory.

If you find a good memory test, let me know.

Beeeep beeeep beeeep beeeep SLAP

Most people I know don’t like their sleep to be interrupted. I, on the other hand, as long as I don’t have to get up right this minute, don’t mind being woke up multiple times.

First of all, the actual process of falling asleep after quieting the harsh beep of the alarm clock is a very pleasant experience. Second, I find that a short series of naps is more refreshing than a long “wow, how long was I out” sleep. I also a series of alarms has a much greater chance of waking me up from an REM state. This is the best way to wake up: the brain is already active and the dreams can be easily recalled.

At some point I wanted to make an alarm clock that would detect either eye movements or the brain waves associated with them and wake me up during REM. Understandably, for the lack of time, skills and gumption I never got further than playing with a basic stamp microcontroller and reading EEG newsgroups. I suck.

Anyhoo, this morning, between the infamous 9 minute alarm clock buzzes, I had 2 dreams.

In the first one, came for a visit to America. We went to explore the power station at Brooklyn College. Tema had a really old looking key that opened the gate. As a side note (not a part of the dream): Brooklyn College has some very interesting infrastructure. There are tunnels connecting all buildings, a power plant, a heat plant and a buncha other interesting things. I’ve heard that there is a linear accelerator somewhere. Right. So we explored the area around the power plant a bit, I pointed out Monk parrots to .

You’d think I went clubbing with in the second dream, but I didn’t. Instead I was still in Brooklyn College. My high school English teacher was giving a lecture standing behind a podium in the middle of the quad. He said: “the time now is [don’t remember] and the temperature is 28 Therms “. I asked him is there is a thermometer on his podium that measures temperature in “Therms” ( I think a Therm is the same thing as BTU). He said that that was the case. For some reason I called him Alex, even though his name is Alan.