July 14, 2007

VISP Visualization 0.4

Filed under: Portfolio,Projects,VISP — admin @ 6:30 pm

VISP Visualization 0.4

I had to make some changes. First, the agent-based model for packing fact circles was computationally intensive. In other words, as networks with larger sets of nodes were loaded the visualization become slow or just simply stalled. Lada pointed me to this circle packing algorithm. Hat tip to Weixin Wang, Hui Wang, Guozhong Dai, and Hongan Wang for a very useful solution. Here are some other additions:

  • added url text pop-up
  • automatically scales network to fit screen
  • user can change the default size of the base node
  • changed the variation of node sizes to be based on area

You can see it here

VISP Visualization 0.4

copy and paste “data/test.xml” into the get dataset text field.

Colormixer Web Application

Filed under: Portfolio — admin @ 5:26 pm

Colormixer Web Application

It’s common for designers to create color standards in Marketing. You may write those standards in documents and distribute them to everyone you think needs to know. You may create a webpage and say check back often for changes. As you might expect, everyone ends up having different documents in different places (i.e. electronic vs. a print-out tacked to a cubicle wall). It’s awkward when you consider that web colors are not easy to work with (i.e. they look random — #FF0066). It seems completely unmanageable if you want to say that tints and shades are okay.

In graduate school, I recall a brief mention about how software is progressively being viewed as artifacts. If you wanted to reconstruct how did, say, accounting make decisions, insight could be derived from examining the software they used. Simply put, applications do not necessarily have to be tools to use, but they can also be codified knowledge.

It occurred to me that all of the color standards knowledge should simply be codified into a web application. Users can simply “copy and paste” the color they need, users are always up-to-date on recent changes (e.g. given that they adopt the application), and there is no need to keep track of who needs to know when changes occur.

Try out the application for yourself.

Also, I discovered that different applications (e.g. Photoshop and Fireworks) have different algorithms for determining tints, shades, and PMS to Web conversion. That made the need for a tool like this more salient.

Alternate Text Bookmarklet

Filed under: Portfolio — admin @ 2:57 pm

Alternative Text Bookmarklet

Bookmarklets are a fascinating little innovation. Essentially, they are snippets of javascript that a user can store as a bookmark. Rather than go to a website when selected, the bookmarklet will a simple routine task. For instance, Google Reader offers a “Subscribe to Google Reader” bookmarklet. When I stumble upon a website I like and it has an RSS feed, I can simple click the bookmark, and it’s added to my reader. Simply elegant.

Here’s the revelation. This can be used a productivity tool for groups working together. For instance, one issue that arises when creating web pages or emailers is that there is a lot of invisible content inside. This is problematic for writers that are proofing content. They can’t see it, it’s an arduous task for them to remember that there is hidden content, and it’s difficult to mark-up and say make these changes.

I put together this little bookmarklet to help. While it is “proudly found elsewhere”, I did make some modifications to make it work specifically for the aforementioned context.

Executive Briefing Invite

Filed under: Portfolio,Signaling — admin @ 1:17 pm

Executive Briefing Invite

This is an invite that I designed. It was sent out by sales people to executives of companies that we believed would be interested in purchasing our products. Executives that responded would be invited to spend a day at our Detroit headquarters discussing challenges and concerns that we potentially could solve. While the invite is aesthetically pleasing and has a unique package, it was designed with some economic principles in mind.

First, the Executive Briefing Program is quite costly, and we only allotted and printed 1000 invites. It was important that our sales force did not send invites to just any contact. If you’ll notice there is stationary that is placed in a pocket on the inside of the invite. This is for a sales person to write (actually by hand) a personal invitation. Without this note the invite is awkward (i.e. there’s nothing in the pocket). In addition, the size of the pocket is too small to print on 8.5×11 paper, fold it, and place it inside. This may seem superfluous, but the added cost to sales people induces them to select prospective customers that are worth the cost of the program.

Secondly, the hand-written note has a dual purpose in that it serves as a signal. Making a nice invite is relatively cheap and easy to mass-produce and send to any company. A hand-written note signals that we could not simply mass-produce the invite and send it to just anyone. To recoup the costs of the program and invite, we have to actually be able to bring value to selected customers. The recipient can see this correlation via the signaling.

Both of these principle worked together to create a very effective program.

Graduate Research Papers

Filed under: Research — admin @ 1:15 pm

Here are several research papers I’ve written while in graduate school. Hopefully, you can see that they are becoming progressively more scientific and interesting.

Web application for customized clothing

Filed under: Portfolio — admin @ 1:13 pm

Web application for customized clothing

This is a web application I designed for a company that does customized printing on clothing. This is by far one of the more challenging and exciting projects I ever worked. Here are some of the details.

  • There were a variety of types of apparel (i.e. hats, pants, shirts, hoodies, etc…)
  • Each of them had a variety of colors and sizes
  • There were a variety logos, fonts, and printing regions
  • Every combination of apparel, colors, sizes, logos, and printing regions was feasible and could change at any given moment (i.e. “we ran out of medium shirts” or “we now have yellow ink”)

What was challenging was the infinite range of combinations that could have occurred. To solve this, I developed a (beautiful) XML schema that was adaptable to all of these attributes and could be generated from a database. All of this means that just about everything in the interface was editable outside of the Flash application.

In addition, the client partners with other companies (usually radio stations). These other companies can create a customized version of this application (via XML documents) and only display logos and apparel they wish to sell.

Lastly, I developed a novel technique of layering transparent graphics that allowed for realistic presentation of the apparel. This meant that the apparel only had to be photographed once and all color combinations could be created from that one photograph.

See the application in action

June 17, 2007


Filed under: Books,Incentives,Observations — admin @ 5:50 pm

Cass Sunstein writes

Participants in the blogosphere usually lack an economic incentive. They are not involved in any kind of trade, and most of the time they have little to gain or to lose. If they spread falsehoods, or simply offer their opinion, they do not sacrifice a thing.

I’m not certain I totally agree. Bloggers sacrifice time or attention. They have an opportunity cost and, thus, choose to forgo other opportunities to blog. Most importantly, they forgo making money. I suspect as information increases in accessibility opportunity cost will increase. In other words, individuals will be more selective in what they contribute because there so many other things they could have been doing.

June 11, 2007

The Economics of Gift Cards and Irrationality

Filed under: Books,Market,Observations,Public Choice — admin @ 6:56 pm

This is Josh Hendrickson commenting on Jennifer Pate Offenberg’s article about gift cards in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Essentially, this welfare loss arises from the stigma of giving cash. I have always been fascinated with the fact that giving cash is viewed as inappropriate, yet gift cards are somehow more acceptable. The gift card, as Offenberg points out, is simply a cash gift with a restriction on where the gift can be spent.

An explanation of the aforementioned observation occurred to me while currently reading “The Myth of the Rational Voter” by Bryan Caplan. Caplan explains that voters are more willing to make irrational decisions as the cost incurred from the decision decrease. Because voters face practically no cost for believing whatever makes them feel good (rational or not) they are more likely to pick bad policies.

Possibly gift cards are way of gifting the the psychological benefit of irrationality to recipients. Here, enjoy some extra coffee or a book from Borders that you would not normally buy because you act rationally in the market. In addition, the restrictions ensure that the gift card cannot be spent on something more useful (e.g. gas for the car).

Read more:
The Economics of Gift Cards « The Everyday Economist

June 6, 2007

Incentives Matter: The Role of User-Generated Content in Advertising

Filed under: Incentives,Observations — admin @ 6:04 pm

I found this quote to be well… not surprising.

Recently, MasterCard ran a fairly structured, fill-in-the-blank consumer-created “Priceless” campaign. And even within the structure of the program “we were hard-pressed to find a lot of good ads,” she said.

What incentives do consumers have to create advertising that is effective in generating clicks, leads, sales, or whatever. A payment scheme linked to something measurable (e.g. clicks) would be more effective in inducing a consumer to create something of value.

The article:
Advertising Age – Digital – Video Report:The Role of User-Generated Content in Advertising

June 4, 2007

VISP Visualization 0.2

Filed under: Portfolio,Projects,VISP — admin @ 4:16 pm

Website Fact Visualization

This is the first draft of a visualization for the VISP project being conducted by Lada Adamic, Suresh Bhavnani, and Dale Hunscher. Each larger circle represents a webpage, the circles inside represent facts, and arrows represent hyperlinks. The intensity of the outer circle indicates the amount of traffic it receives from a search engine (i.e. darker is more traffic). The size of the inner circle represents the amount of space a page dedicates to a given fact.

There are two noteworthy things. First, while it only calls one data set currently, it is designed to be read in any properly formatted XML data set. That means that it could be extended to include any webpage and search queries. Second, you may notice that the circles seem to jiggle around. It’s not purely for aesthetic reasons, honest. Because any data set could have n number of facts at any given size, it is difficult to write an algorithm for all scenarios. It is much easier (as in this case) to simply treat facts as autonomous agents with a strategy, get as close to the center as possible. What we see are the fact circles trying to find more compressed configurations.

The visualization can be seen here. Be sure to copy and paste this path “data/melanoma_com.xml” to the data set in the text field and simply press the “get dataset” button.

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