Interesting Week in Research

Several researchers published some interesting findings last week.  Many of these had concrete recommendations for particular situations.  First, if you are a chronic worrier, you can reduce the negative effects of worrying by writing down all your worries (or making a list).  Second, if you are depressed, there is a simple non-pharmaceutical treatment (sleep deprivation) that is effective for almost half of all depressed patients.  Third, if you live in a state where marijuana is legal, you can expect to see more violent outbreaks as researchers learned that marijuana serves as a trigger for individuals at high risk of developing a psychotic disorder.  In other words, if someone has the potential for certain types of mental problems, marijuana is likely to make them paranoid.  So marijuana may trigger paranoid behavior or worse in up to 25% of the population.  Finally, if you are ever the victim of a gunshot or stabbing (perhaps from being attacked by a paranoid junkie), don’t wait for an ambulance, but find a faster way to the ER.  It can make a big difference:  “When adjusting for differences in injury severity, patients with penetrating injuries were 62 percent less likely to die when transported by private vehicle compared to EMS.”

Bring Back Venus Boy

Crowdsourcing is becoming a great way for consumers to directly fund innovators.  I’m trying this myself to republish one of my favorite childhood novels.  I tried to buy one for my own kids and found that collectors wanted over $300 for a copy.  This is such a good book that I want it to be available for others at a reasonable price and I’m trying kickstarter to see if others feel likewise.


I Knew This Day Would Come

Robert Morris University created sixty (yes, 60) scholarships for a team video game, League of Legends.  This was brilliant and I am certain RMU will not be the last university to create scholarships for video games.  Within 48 hours of the news getting out, RMU had over 2,000 inquiries, including one from Gambia, West Africa.

Generations Y and Z care more about video games than many traditional collegiate varsity sports and this is a natural response to changing consumer behavior.  I expect I will see video game contests reach an audience larger than the Super Bowl in my lifetime.

My favorite quote from the story was from one player.

So it’s official, playing videogames can benefit my education now…HAHA MOM.

For more details, see the entire story at the Wall Street Journal.

Startup May Disrupt Makeup Industry

Most brilliant ideas look obvious in hindsight. Grace Choi had such an idea when she realized 3D printing technology could be applied to makeup. She is working on Mink, a product that may greatly disrupt the makeup industry if it can deliver quality makeup. There is no theoretical reason why this will not work, 3D printers can use the same materials used in makeup provided by established companies – both at the high end of the market and ingredients for the cost conscious consumers. So let’s assume Grace releases Mink as a quality product that works as described.

I expect this will do very well with not only the target group (girls 13 to 21 years of age), but many women may also adopt. So long as Mink can provide quality equivalent to that of the established market, I believe Mink’s print-your-own makeup concept will succeed and dramatically disrupt the current makeup market. I expect Grace has already considered these options, but here are several ideas that would help Mink succeed. Product-wise, I’d recommend a software feature that allows Mink’s customers to scan colors (ideally with a smart phone) and then print that color of makeup without the need for a fancy art or photography program.

Market-wise, while some people will love the ability to print their own makeup, others will not want to buy and master yet another device. For these customers, there are two other business models Mink should consider. First, they could market a version of their makeup printer to department stores themselves. These stores could then print custom makeup for their regular customers, delivering better customization while reducing inventory. Second, Mink could also pursue an affiliate model where Mink certified specialists could resell makeup to their friends and acquaintances.

Proudly Borrowed From Others

One of the many benefits of participating in UMW’s Domain of One’s Own project is the interaction generated between an expert from the Division of Teaching and Learning Technology and other colleagues.

I didn’t post on last week’s readings because I was already familiar with that particular subject and didn’t read anything new to me.  Nothing new, no new thoughts.  However, in the discussion Professor Mackintosh mentioned how he was experimenting with using a collaborative wiki to build a set of notes for his class.  He has since described it on his blog.  I’m now giving serious thought to incorporating this technique into some of my more advanced classes.

This exercise highlights one of the values of the program.  Even if I did not learn anything from a particular reading assignment – nothing against the reading list, it just happened that I was familiar with last week’s topic – having a dedicated time for discussing how to improve our teaching with technology is bearing fruit.


A Mother’s Perspective on Marketing Innovation

Good marketers come up with products that meet consumer needs they don’t even realize they have.  Tide Pods are a great example of how innovation can revolutionize and disrupt a mature industry with a simple, but innovative change that adds value to the consumer.  After discussing this in class, one of my students (Thanks Simone!) sent me a great article showing a mother’s perspective on marketing innovation.