A few weeks ago, we led with details of a study demonstrating that sending random SMS messages to cardiac patients could substantatively improve adherence to medication regimen (which is a really big deal).

This week, the Behavioral Insights team at the UK’s Cabinet Office released a study demonstrating that they could substantively improve upon the 10% missed appointment rate for the NHS by sending patients a text reminding them of their appointments (4 min). As significant was the realization that messaging surrounding the cost of missed appointments drove missed appointment rates even lower.

Again, this sort of data has profound implications for those of us designing systems for people — particularly those designed to drive some form of meaningful outcome.

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This is superb: Times Square, with AdBlock enabled

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Paul Mason has penned a must-read piece for The Guardian on smart cities and the technologies that do (or will) underpin them (4 min). Madrid’s approach to the challenge, in particular, caught our eye:

Instead of seeing the city as a “system”, to be automated and controlled, the vision being mulled in the Spanish capital conceives of the city as an “ecosystem” of diverse, competing and uncontrolled human networks. Instead of asking: which of the city’s grids and networks do we want to automate and connect, Podemos-backed major Manuela Carmena asked advisers: what are the social problems we want technology to solve?

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The piece most-cited by your author this week: a Farnam Street post onorganizational change from the outside (4 min) in which senator Elizabeth Warren recounts an early conversation with former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers:

Larry’s tone was in the friendly advice-category. He teed it up this way: I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.

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It’s quite worth reading Jason Fried on the ways in which Basecamp 3 was designed to be ‘adoptional‘ (3 min). Such smart thinking.

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IKEA’s 2015 Play report (+/- 2 hours) — a follow-up to a similar study released six years ago — is out, and makes for fascinating reading. As the study promises, the ways in which we play (and make time for play) lend tremendous insight into our relationships with family, children, institutions and ourselves. Absolutely worth bookmarking.

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You should absolutely read Venkatesh Rao’s brilliant piece on those who make (meaningful) distinctions as culture’s only true insiders (8min). To excerpt liberally:

Posers devalue a language (and therefore a culture) by BS-ing in it.

Mercenaries actively destroy a language by exploiting distinctions others care about.

Philistines deflate a language (in the sense of economics) by eroding its currency base of words through disuse.

To counter these effects, cultures have to grow at the other end by turning more distinctions into linguistically codified differences.

 

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It appears that you can train a deep neural network to evaluate the objective qualities of a great #selfie (12 min). The code is all up on GitHub, so feel free to take it and use it polish up your brand’s Instagram account.

Speaking of #selfies: taking one puts your PIN code in jeopardy (4 min). Sleep tight.

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This year’s top ‘sexy’ Halloween costumes (1 min), as selected by the editors of The Society Pages. Sexy Pizza Rat is particularly inspired.

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Until next week.