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#96 Be happy to appear clueless in extraneous matters.
Lessons from Duolingo, Tinder, ChatGPT and more
In “Get/Want/Have To” Seth Godin helps put a perspective on different kind of tasks we do in our daily life. Here’s how he describes them:
Have to is often up to someone else. The things we’re required to do by the system or the people in it.
Get to is a matter of perspective. Trust and health and leverage and privilege allow us to do certain things that others might not.
And want to is a choice, and is often squandered.
Very interesting articulation, it opened up my mind about how I look at my tasklist or time spent. He goes further to help design life in a way where these merge and create magical outcomes.
The magic trick begins with realizing that the get to tasks are priceless want to moments if we choose. And, if we’re careful and plan ahead, we can get to the point where the have to agenda is something we can eagerly look forward to.
I love the way Seth helps build clarity through his crisp articulation. Simple words, huge impact. His daily mails are always full of great ideas and suggestions.
Today, We will talk about product & growth lessons from Duolingo and Tinder, take an overview of the Curator Economy in India and why ChatGPT offers a paraphrase (unlike a search).
Let’s get to it right away.
1. Growth experiments at Duolingo
Jorge Mazal’s post for Lenny’s newsletter is a great read on the topic of growth & experimentation. He covers critical projects & learning from the journey of reigniting Duolingo’s 4.5x growth.
I loved this post for sharing a mixed view of how growth works. There are proud admissions of mistakes & failures. These became the stepping stones for experiments that finally paved the way to success. Some key highlights from the post:
When you are playing Gardenscapes, each move feels like a strategic decision, because you have to outmaneuver dynamic obstacles to find a path to victory. But strategic decision-making isn’t required to complete a Duolingo lesson—you mostly either know the answer to a question or you don’t. Because there wasn’t any strategy to it, the Duolingo moves counter was simply a boring, tacked-on nuisance. It was the wrong gamification mechanic to adopt into Duolingo.
In both of these situations, we had borrowed successful features from other products, but the wrong way. We had failed to account for how a change in context can impact the success of a feature. I came away from these attempts realizing that I needed a better understanding of how to borrow ideas from other products intelligently. Now when looking to adopt a feature, I ask myself:
Why is this feature working in that product?
Why might this feature succeed or fail in our context, i.e. will it translate well?
What adaptations are necessary to make this feature succeed in our context?
In other words, we needed to use better judgment in adapting when adopting.
(via Lenny’s newsletter)
2. Tinder’s activation journey
Online dating is an interesting category and can provide many insights for other engagement products. I’ve not had a chance to use Tinder (no regrets, I must declare), but I love it when someone does a product or growth deep dive on this.
Rosie Hoggmascall’s post around Tinder’s CRM for activation is a good read on the topic of new user journey. It summarizes not just what happens but a possible explanation from a product design point of view. Here’s a snapshot view for summary.
Credit: Rosie Hoggmascall’s medium post.
(via UX Collective)
3. Curator Economy
Web2 (or the Internet as we know it today) has changed the pace at which the world of content exploded. Content creation & distribution is more democratic than ever. Creator economy & now Curator economy are the key movements that are making it possible. Mint Lounge had a really good read on the topic of Curator Economy and shared some interesting stories from India.
I’ve been curating this newsletter for 96 weeks now and could relate to many observations. This one, however, is the best of them and is a great lesson for any product builder (content or otherwise).
“Consumers don’t want more choice, they want to be more confident in the choices presented.”
(via D2C Pulse newsletter)
4. ChatGPT as a blurry JPEG
Ted Chiang’s essay “ChatGPT is a blurry JPEG of the web” is one of the best commentary I have read in a long time. The blurry JPEG reference is so crazy good. I highly recommend reading this one. Here’s some of the best bits:
OpenAI’s chatbot offers paraphrases, whereas Google offers quotes.
The fact that ChatGPT rephrases material from the Web instead of quoting it word for word makes it seem like a student expressing ideas in her own words, rather than simply regurgitating what she’s read; it creates the illusion that ChatGPT understands the material. In human students, rote memorization isn’t an indicator of genuine learning, so ChatGPT’s inability to produce exact quotes from Web pages is precisely what makes us think that it has learned something. When we’re dealing with sequences of words, lossy compression looks smarter than lossless compression.
Indeed, a useful criterion for gauging a large language model’s quality might be the willingness of a company to use the text that it generates as training material for a new model. If the output of ChatGPT isn’t good enough for GPT-4, we might take that as an indicator that it’s not good enough for us, either.
(via almost the entire curator economy)
5. Long reads
Shortfall by Prakhar Misra: Outside economic circles, the 1966 devaluation is now mostly forgotten. But it was a key moment in Indian economic history, because its failure led India down the path of increased state control and regulation in the 1970s and 1980s. Those decades were marked by stagnant growth, the licence raj, and long waiting lists for telephone connections and the homegrown Ambassador car. Ultimately, it would take India’s third devaluation in 1991 to unsettle the stasis.
20 Modern Heresies by Roger’s Bacon: A heresy is a view that questions something which everyone seems to take for granted, something that we have forgotten can even be questioned in the first place. In the best instance, it is a view that no one has truly expressed before, and not just because it is obviously false or uninteresting. It might be wrong or impractical, in fact it probably is, but it’s also not impossible to imagine a world in which this belief becomes mainstream.
(via Read Something Great)
6. Aware & Intelligent
Over the last few years, I’ve formed a liking for folks who are ‘aware’. This ‘aware’ness could be specific to a particular field (say how SEO works, shiny new thing in social media) or could be generic (their areas of improvement or a sense of how things are). ‘Aware’ness gives a good enough sense to know if someone is not ignorant. Awareness goes hand-in-hand with curiosity. And without these two, learning is a challenge.
Yesterday, I came across a new expression - ‘content intelligence’. It’s used in reference to a particular skillset, but is highly self-explanatory. Below is the original tweet by Rohit Kaul (the mentioned role looks interesting, for those are in the search).
I plan to use this in my interaction going forward. If there is any other similar expression that can help articulate the idea better, please let me know.
7. Everything else
Some random goodness from the internet:
For those in Bangalore, Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) is open to public now. I have not been there yet, but I'm looking forward to exploring it soon. Here’s a brief post on their Brand Identity. (via The Hard Copy)
“Be happy to appear clueless in extraneous matters” and 12 other more predictable tips for managing your time well by Nils Salzgeber. (via One Daily Nugget)
To all the clients I've worked with before by Kaha Mind. A beautiful read to make you appreciate your therapist even more. (via Twitter)
1 dataset. 100 visualizations. (via Sidebar)
Title of today’s post is from Nils Salzgeber’s post on time saving.
Before we sign off, here's a gentle reminder to self (thanks Jessica Hagy)
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
If you enjoyed this post, show your love by commenting and liking it. I write this newsletter to share what I learnt from others. If you learnt something from this today, why not share it with a couple of your friends to continue this chain?