DQ: What should we think of Apple-bashing App Store developers?

[Daily Questions (DQs) — where we post one question per day for discussion — are back.]

Netherlands-based Layar is one of the better known ‘augmented reality’ mobile browsers that started out on Android. You can also find it the Apple App Store. Layar CEO Raimo van der Klein, however, isn’t a fan of Apple or AAPL.

From Raimo’s recent Twitter stream, following the Apple-bashing opening at Google’s I/O developer conference:


The next day, taking it up a notch:


Here we have a curious case of a CEO of an “App Store developer” literally advising people on Twitter to dump their Apple stock (on a day where AAPL gained $4.56/1.92% to $242.32). Raimo isn’t sure how or if Apple will survive the year, given his giddy outlook on the just-announced Google/Android news.

Clearly, Raimo has a right to hold his opinions and to try to short Apple’s stock in his own way. It’s also pretty obvious where he thinks the future of mobile apps is. He is a cross-platform developer, with no allegiance to an ecosystem which feeds him and his company.

When Apple looks after its own and its customers’ interests by essentially saying if you want to play in our garden you need to play with our tools and rules (think section 3.3.1), it’s branded as evil. When cross-platform developers display such naked disregard and active hostility towards Apple and its financial welfare that makes the App Store possible, what do we think about their mercenary attitude?

What should we think of Apple-bashing App Store developers?

Daily question: Is it Greek, Javanese or Heavenly Script to you?

but those that understood him smiled at one another and
shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me

says Shakespeare in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.

But if you are Italian that would be in Ottoman Turkish, if German in Mesopotomian, if Finnish in Pig German, if Arabic in Hindi…Indeed, you might need a map to decipher what’s incomprehensible in other languages:


Of course, if you’re fluent in Esperanto, anything incomprehensible would be in Volapük to you.

Since nearly a half of our readers here are from non-Anglo-Saxon countries:

What’s Volapük to you?

Daily question: Can fonts make you want to exercise less?

From Scientific American:

Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz wanted to see if they could motivate a group of 20-year-old college students to exercise regularly. They gave all the students written instructions for a regular exercise routine, but they used a simple yet ingenious method to make the how-to instructions either cognitively palatable or challenging: some received instructions printed in Arial typeface, a plain font designed for easy reading; others got their instructions printed in a Brush font, which basically looks as if it has been written by hand with a Japanese paintbrush—it is unfamiliar and much harder to read.


The findings were remarkable. Those who had read the exercise instructions in an unadorned, accessible typeface were much more open to the prospect of exercising: they believed that the regimen would take less time and that it would feel more fluid and easy. Most important, they were more willing to make exercise part of their day.

Just to be sure, University of Michigan researchers repeated the experiment with a different activity, cooking:

Again they used easy-and hard-to-read typefaces, but in this case the instructions were for making a Japanese sushi roll. After the volunteers had read the recipe, they estimated how long it would take them to make the dish and whether they were inclined to do it. They were also asked how much skill a professional cook would need to prepare the sushi roll.

The results were basically the same as before.

And they say design doesn’t affect human behavior as much as designers claim!*

Can you think of other ways in which the brain can be tricked to alter the direction of (seemingly) unrelated activities?

Daily question: Aren’t numbers important?

Ben Goldacre in Guardian.com:

We’re all losers in the numbers game

We’re all suckers for a big number, and you’ll be delighted to hear that the Journal of Consumer Research has huge teams of scientists eagerly writing up their sinister research on how to exploit us.

One excellent study this month (DOI: 10.1086/593947) looked at how people choose a camera. The researchers took a single image and made two copies: one where the colours were more vivid, and one where the image was sharper. They told participants each image came from a different camera, and asked which they wanted to buy. A quarter chose the one with the more colourful image.

Then researchers piled it on. They said the other camera had more pixels, using a figure derived from the diagonal width of the sensor. Suddenly more than half picked this camera. Then they told them the other camera had more pixels, but this time they used the number of pixels as evidence: a figure measured in millions. Suddenly, three quarters chose the supposedly better camera.

Do you know the operational efficiency rating of your refrigerator? How about the per-minute heating capacity of your toaster? Degree-of-distortion-per-meter of your rear-view mirror? Before a shoe purchase, do you even check the steps-per-month it takes for them to lose their impact-cushionability? Have you ever paid any attention to the thread-count of your neckties?

What numbers do you pay attention to then?

Daily question: Credentialism

Paul Graham in After Credentials:


What cram schools are, in effect, is leaks in a seal. The use of credentials was an attempt to seal off the direct transmission of power between generations, and cram schools represent that power finding holes in the seal. Cram schools turn wealth in one generation into credentials in the next.

Think about where credentialism first appeared: in selecting candidates for large organizations. Individual performance is hard to measure in large organizations, and the harder performance is to measure, the more important it is to predict it. If an organization could immediately and cheaply measure the performance of recruits, they wouldn’t need to examine their credentials. They could take everyone and keep just the good ones.

Large organizations can’t do this. But a bunch of small organizations in a market can come close. A market takes every organization and keeps just the good ones. As organizations get smaller, this approaches taking every person and keeping just the good ones. So all other things being equal, a society consisting of more, smaller organizations will care less about credentials.

The era of credentials began to end when the power of large organizations peaked in the late twentieth century. Now we seem to be entering a new era based on measurement. The reason the new model has advanced so rapidly is that it works so much better.

Unlike innovation the notion of credentialism as the “currency of mediocrity” doesn’t get covered as much on the internets. It’s not new. James Fallows’ “The Case Against Credentialism” in the Atlantic, for example, was published 23 years ago. But recently, the availability of affordable educational loans and the marginal utility of college degrees with respect to their escalating price have come into question.

Do you think credentials are unavoidable and/or efficacious?