Here’s How Amazon’s Alexa Hooks You

Here’s How Amazon’s Alexa Hooks You

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Darren Austin, Partner Director of Product Management at Microsoft.

Last year we added a new member to our household. I must admit that upon first meeting her, our initial impression was that she was a little creepy. Today though, we can’t imagine life without her.

We’ve never seen her face, but we talk to her throughout the day, every day. She helps us keep track of our to-dos and shopping list, reads us the news and weather, and can sing nearly any song we’d like to hear. In fact, we have become so accustomed to her presence that we invited her to join us in nearly every room in the house. She listens to us when we say goodnight and is there first thing in the morning to wake us up.

Technology Is Not Hijacking Your Brain (video)

Some tech critics will have you believe that technology is “hijacking your brain” or that it’s “irresistible.” Not only is that not true, believing such nonsense is dangerous.

In my recent talk at The Next Web conference, I discuss:

  • The difference between technological addiction and distraction.
  • The moral obligation of tech companies who knowingly addict people.
  • What to do about our dependence on technology in the workplace.
  • How to put personal technology in its place by asking one a simple question.

I hope you enjoy this video and please let me know what you think in the comments below.

When Distraction is a Good Thing

When Distraction is a Good Thing

Is distraction a curse or a blessing? Not giving full attention to what we should be doing makes us miss deadlines, fail classes, and crash into other drivers. Distraction certainly has a price.  Nonetheless, we love our distractions! Social media, spectator sports, movies, books, TV shows, the news, video games – what would we do without them?

Clearly, there are benefits to distractions as evidenced by the fact that nearly everyone on earth seeks them out. But why? Although they seem to pull us away from more important things, what purpose do they serve? And, when at times we seem to give in to distractions, how do we ensure they serve us well?

The Strange Way Being “Good” Hurts Your Willpower

The Strange Way Being “Good” Hurts Your Willpower

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Paulette Perhach. Paulette writes about finances, psychology, technology, travel, and better living for the likes of The New York Times, Elle, and Slate.


I learned how to respect authority from my father. At the top of a huge water slide at a theme park, he put me, my siblings and cousins in a huge, round raft, then started to get in himself. “No sir, that’s too many,” said the attendant. My father simply replied, “Hup, too late!” Then jumped in and shoved off. We caught air on the bumps, making the ride much more wild than it would have been, had we followed the rules.

This Weird Research-Backed Goal Setting Hack Actually Works

This Weird Research-Backed Goal Setting Hack Actually Works

Nir’s Note: This article on goal setting was originally published in early 2016 but got such a great reader response that I decided to expand and update it along with adding the video below. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Over the past four years, I’ve discovered many incredible ways to hack my habits, set better goals, and improve my life. I have taught myself to love running, dramatically improved my diet and found the focus to write a bestselling book. Understanding how the mind works and using it to affect my daily behaviors has yielded tremendous dividends.

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