The African Enterprise (08/11/2021)
Writing a news story, What eye-tracking shows about people, and China's Internet Ecosystem
Greetings from Abuja.
Here's what I have to share with you this week:
Our Strong-Features bias: Whether in classifying creatures or assessing people, strong features provide a conceptual framework to ease decision-making. They're a quick way to silo information for processing in a fast-paced and information-dense world. But sometimes, strong features encourage, force us even, to decide based on preconceived biases. why do we have this bias for strong features? and what can be done to recognize it?
Two questions on thought: This essay is an answer to two questions from The Birth of Tragedy:
What influences hold sway over our thought and how long do they maintain sway?
When does the matured mind throw off these fetters?
The first question implies that our thoughts are strongly influenced by context, experiences, other people, the general current of thought at the time, and prejudices. The second question then seeks to know and understand when we're able to sidestep these influences. Read my answers and let me know what you think of these influences and how much sway they hold.
Coolest things I learned this week
Writing a news story
I've spent the last week reading A firing Offense by David Ignatius. A novel about a journalist who became embroiled in espionage as he chased a story. In it, I found a very poignant description of what goes into writing a news story:
Denaturing and Compression.
"We need to squeeze the life out of events to make them lie down flat on the page. We need to chop up the immensity of human experiences that will fit."
When what is a lived experience has to become a news story, it has to be beaten down beyond recognition. Pulled down to scrap. Then reassembled to how it can be conveyed to the readers in the shortest form possible that still contains the life of the experience.
What Eye tracking shows about People
In an eye-tracking heatmap, a heatmap is plotted from data collected by tracking the movement of a person's eyeballs at an element as well as the fixation length on that particular element.
When this heatmap was used on what people look at on the computer screen, it showed that for some, green and yellow light clusters were in the upper left corner where top search results appeared with some red dots for clicks on the top two results. These ones remain on the page for around 10 seconds before moving away.
In other people, the heatmap looked like a mess. The upper left corner had the greatest cluster of glances and clicks, but the rest of the page is blanketed in green and red.
What this map shows is that the first group treated search engines as a tool for simply finding a specific piece of information. While the second group of users treated search engines like a shopping mall, a place to check out a variety of goods, try some on, then pick a few.
The first group is those that just want to see the top of the search and that's it, while the second will scroll to see what more is there.
China's Internet Ecosystem
In A.I Superpowers, Kai-Fu Lee wrote about the development of the Internet and now Artificial Intelligence in China and how it compares to the other A. I Superpower, The United States.
Before doubling down on the trends that will define the next decade and more of global Artificial Intelligence development, he stated the three currents that are the psychological foundations of China's Internet ecosystem. These currents, although somewhat different from those in other parts of the world, have yielded exponential growth in building out the infrastructure of modern living. They are:
A cultural acceptance of copying: I have heard lots of quotes from business leaders about the importance of copying, and have seen Zuck's mastery of the art, but nowhere is this more culturally acceptable than in China. A majority of their earliest internet companies were copycats and then finetuned to the taste of the huge domestic market.
The willingness to dive into any promising industry: This can be seen in the rise of super apps where it's possible to do just about anything on the same platform. Reaching across Industries without leaving an app.
A Scarcity mentality: Deng Xiaoping once said that China needed to let some people get rich first in order to develop. This mindset spurred development which then heightened fears that if you, or your region, don’t move quickly, grab onto any new trend or market, then you'll stay poor while others grow rich.
That’s it for this week.
If you have any thoughts or questions, hit reply and we can have a chat. And if you enjoyed it, share it with friends.
Till next week,