Posts tagged “outliers”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] You Too Can Be Masterful at Analyzing Data (Go Dirty) [Cheskin Added Value] – [Darrel Rhea on the importance of outliers in analysis] At some point we grow the confidence and skill to look beyond the “tidy patterns” (however useful they might be) and focus on the anomalies. We become fascinated by data that doesn’t fit the patterns, or that doesn’t support our hypothesis. What the beginner discards as noise in the data, the master focuses on. That is where the big “Ah Ha’s” are – and where the big proprietary insights come from that can drive innovation. It’s often in weird, dirty data that we make our best discoveries.
  • [from steve_portigal] Facebook’s ‘Like’ and Conspicuous Consumption [Lone Gunman] – [Agreed, but what are our expectations for outcomes of displaying our identity and values. To connect with others who share our likes? To have our likes acknowledged and even complimented? I think there's a lot more here, no doubt that social psychologists have been studying for decades] I feel that the ‘Like’ functionality is an expense-less method of conspicuous consumption: signalling your likes and brand preferences without having to actually purchase anything (we are saying “I aspire to be the type of person who likes x, y, z” or maybe more accurately “I want you to think I’m the type of person who likes x, y, z”).

I’m not saying the book was entirely my idea or anything…

This review of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (an exploration of what causes people to be successful; get a taste from this recent New Yorker piece) reminded me of a long-ago correspondence I had with Mr. Gladwell.

Date: 6/16/01
From: Steve Portigal (steve.portigal@—–)
To: Malcolm Gladwell (malcolm@—-)

I just thought I’d get the “I’m a fan!” thing out of the way up front…

[rambling enthusiastic feedback, introduction, etc. snipped]

Date: 6/18/01
From: Malcolm Gladwell (malcolm@—-)
To: Steve Portigal (steve.portigal@—–)

hi there. thanks for the sweet email. i’m delighted you find my stories interesting. and i love the auto seat anectode (which i have already shared with my editor). your job sounds very cool. if you ever run across what seems to be a cool case study, do let me know. cheers, mtg

Date: 8/28/01
From: Steve Portigal (steve.portigal@—–)
To: Malcolm Gladwell (malcolm@—-)

I don’t know I’ve got a case study, but a couple of ideas that seem (to me) deserving of your insight.

Dynasties – how the hell in the US can the son of a president grow up to be president? And his brother is the governor of a state? I mean, there’s something very obvious about parents passing opportunities and values onto their children but is it more than that? What about the social structures we’ve erected that suggest that anyone can be anything they want? Is there something about biology here?

Prodigies – the sports issue of the New Yorker had a thing about Tiger Woods (this was months ago) that kind of had me scratching my head – by some random set of circumstances he picked up a club at a young age, and was good at it. His parents noticed this (another perhaps rare condition) and encouraged it (yet another one), and voila.

How many prodigies are there that never encounter a violin or whatever? Are they born, or made?

Date: 8/30/01
From: Malcolm Gladwell (malcolm@—-)
To: Steve Portigal (steve.portigal@—–)

hi there. thanks for the story ideas.


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