The Marshmallow Test is one of the classic experiments in psychology. In 1972, Walter Mischel gave 600 preschoolers a choice of one marshmallow now, or if they could wait, two marshmallows 15 minutes later. When he followed those kids into adulthood, he found that the kids who could wait had much more success in life.
In 2012, researchers at the University of Rochester added a little twist to the famous experiment. They preceded the marshmallow test with a promise about some crayons that was either broken, or kept.
It turns out that almost none of the kids who were given the unreliable offer ended up waiting for the extra marshmallow. Why should they? They already waited for a promised reward that didn’t come. The rational thing to do in an untrustworthy environment is to take any reward that is presented. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
As I wrote in Box 32 of my Forty-two Boxes essay, children are born trusting. They are totally helpless, they have no other choice but to trust. But then through life experiences, they gather data that can change that default setting of trust.
In my last blog entry, I quoted Mister Rogers saying, “One of the first things a child learns in a healthy family is trust.” This modified marshmallow test demonstrates is why trust is so important. Trust allows people to spend energy and resources now for a greater payoff later.
You are told if you do your homework now, in 10 years you’ll get to go to college, and in 15 years, you’ll have a great career. You are told if you work hard at your entry-level job now, and you will eventually get promoted into management later. But if you don’t trust what you are told, if you don’t trust these equations, if the data keeps telling you there’s a glass ceiling you’re unlikely to surpass, you’ll probably go do something else where the data tells you the odds of success are better.
This is why poverty, racism, sexism, and totalitarianism are so destructive. Not only because those things present roadblocks in and of themselves, but because they corrode the trust that a sacrifice now will be worth a payoff later. Both society as a whole and the individuals in it fail to achieve their potential, because people in an untrustworthy environment take fewer long-term risks, and receive correspondingly fewer long-term payoffs. The result is stagnation.
Yet in spite of Mr Cook’s bouncing optimism, Apple seems unlikely
to turn its watch into the next big must-have gadget. Certainly,
the watch will not match the success of previous products, such as
the iPod or iPhone.
It’s ignorant to lump the successes of iPod and iPhone together. iPod was indeed successful — for its time. But iPhone’s success is at least an order of magnitude — maybe several — greater. And oddly enough the “Revenues by Product” chart that The Economist uses to illustrate this very article shows just that. Compared to iPhone, iPod’s peak revenue just wasn’t that great.
If you don’t think Apple Watch can at least match the iPod’s success, I think you’re nuts. I’m going to run out of claim chowder pantry space.
Here’s there explanation for this pessimism:
This is true for two main reasons. First, Apple’s newest creation
replicates many of the functions that the smartphone already makes
so seamless, such as checking e-mail, receiving calendar alerts
and communicating with friends. People are unlikely to want to
shell out a sum between $350 (for the most basic model) and
$17,000 (for the fanciest version) for something with so few extra
functions. Second, the Apple Watch is dependent on a nearby
smartphone, which means that users will just be adding another
device to their growing menageries instead of replacing one. This
is not unlike selling someone a wristwatch that requires a pocket
watch to work.
The Apple Watch’s current reliance upon a tethered iPhone is much like the way early iPhones required wired syncing to a Mac or PC for everything from music to contacts to calendars. Apple Watch will be an independent cloud client device eventually.
Apple Watch may or may not be a compelling device. The fact that it requires an iPhone companion will not determine that.
It's not wrong to observe that the device that Apple will sell in April probably isn't going to break sales records. Whether future versions do will depend on what those future versions have or don't.
Gruber is being disingenuous (but that's what Gruber does) to call it claim chowder when someone looks at what exists today rather than an imagined future version with the full wish list of features that he keeps talking about. It's fair to be skeptical of whether or not Apple (or anyone else) can overcome the battery life limitations to get those features in there.
I think almost everyone agrees that for this to be a big success, it needs to be able to replace a phone at least some of the time, which no current smartwatch can do. Maybe version 5 or 10 will do that, but even if it does, it won't make the doubters of version 1 wrong.
One of my first email addresses (in 1989) was
feeling old today and I’m guessing half my readers have
never seen an email address like that. It was from the long
long ago, in the time that was before the Internet, when UUCP was the main Unix
My unique email address was reed!minar. But
there was no ubiquitous routing infrastructure for mail, no
global addressing. Unix network email was store-and-forward
based on scheduled phone calls and modem transfers via uucico. Each
host only talked to a few other hosts. Reed talked to OGICSE
regularly, so my address suggested mail be forwarded through there. Other
mail hosts might or might not know how to get mail to OGI but
they certainly knew how to get to Tektronix, so that sufficed as
a global route. UUNET was a hub that knew
how to talk to everyone; often addresses began uunet!.
The essential idea is that UUCP email addresses included not
just the address but the route to that address. It's a powerful
idea. But modern Internet
systems don’t do that. Instead we rely on global address lookup
systems like DNS and global routing systems like BGP. (If anyone can
think of a modern system that includes routes in names, please email me via SMTP)
UUCP users did build a routing system; pathalias. It
relied on UUCP maps published to comp.mail.maps.
Those maps were discontinued
in December 2000. I haven’t found a modern view onto this data;
it’d be fascinating to see the history of the growth of UUCPnet. telehack has a usable snapshot of the
data, try uumap reed for instance.
I missed out on the UUCP era but did have a node on Fidonet, which used a simple store-and-forward mechanism to avoid long distance charges and could get a message around the world for free in as little as a day or two(!), and at one point someone added a UUCP gateway in case you wanted to send a message to someone lucky enough to have an account on a Unix system somewhere.
I also had a Fideonet email, though I can't remember what node it was on. I remember the great Opus debate, and the schism. Supposedly, Fidonet is still around in some parts of the world. Store-and-forward is amazingly reliable.
All the babies were between 4 and 11 months old when they were enrolled, and all had either an egg allergy, severe eczema, or both-putting them at high risk of a peanut allergy down the road. Indeed, 98 of them were already heading in that direction: They tested positive for mild peanut sensitivity in a skin-prick test. This meant that these babies were already churning out antibodies to the peanut protein. Eating peanuts in the future could set off an allergic reaction.
The team divided the babies into two groups. Half were to avoid eating peanut products until they were 5 years old. The other half received at least 6 grams of peanut protein a week, spread across at least three meals, until they were 5 years old. Bamba was the preferred offering, though picky eaters who rejected it got smooth peanut butter.
Around the 5th birthdays of the trial subjects came the big test. The children consumed a larger peanut portion than they were used to in one sitting, and the results were clear-cut. Among 530 children who had had a negative skin-prick test when they were babies, 14% who avoided peanuts were allergic to them, compared with 2% of those who'd been eating them. In the even higher risk group, the children who were sensitized, 35% of the peanut-avoiders were allergic versus just over 10% of the peanut eaters.
Even if further studies confirm these results, will American parents start feeding their infants peanuts? I don't know...there are lots of similarities to vaccines in play here.
Survey after survey reveals there is one thing consumers wish
manufacturers would change about their gadgets. And year
after year, gadget makers make only tepid gestures toward
giving it to us.
It’s better battery life. […]
It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s a simple enough solution.
It requires a company brave enough to persuade users that one of
the things we’ve come to expect from phones and other gadgets —
that every year, they become thinner and lighter — is a trend
that has outlived its usefulness.
It’ll happen soon. Consider laptops — for years, battery life on a laptop was somewhere around 4 or 5 hours, at best. It was a struggle to use one throughout a cross-country flight. Today, you could probably fly coast to coast roundtrip with MacBook Air on a single charge.
I agree that phones are thin enough, but I personally hope we see smaller width and height before the battery takes precedence. I know I'm probably a niche, but so monster screens (in my opinion) and with the size of the phone market you can have some very profitable niches.