Working documents, from quick drafts to research articles, to vague ideas. All notes and their links are subject to change.
2021, March 13 · updated 2021, May 09

The doorway effect

The location updating effect1, or the doorway effect, applies to digital products as well.

Problem: When I want to perform an action on the phone, I get distracted due to the rich environment I need to go through to accomplish the action. As a result, I often forget which action I was about to perform.

Use case: Set up an alarm on phone (iOS).

Steps and environment:

ActionViewEnvironment
Unlock deviceLock ScreenNotifications
Locate appHome ScreenNotifications, other apps
Locate AlarmClock appRecent view UI, 3 other tabs

Current solutions:

  • Voice commands for simple cases. Long-press the lock button (iOS), then dictate the command.
  • Written commands. Terminal with autocomplete.
  • Isolated views for rich interfaces. Wizards, modals.
  • Automations. Just don't interact if it can be automated

  1. Lawrence Z, Peterson D. Mentally walking through doorways causes forgetting: The location updating effect and imagination. Memory. 2016
2020, May 28 · updated 2021, May 09

False similar

Todo: Add examples, conclusion

The mechanism for selecting similar units, the recommendation system, is used in web applications as a universal pattern while its use leads to dramatically different results depending on the context.

When referring to finding the recommendation, the user can assume at least two actions:

  1. Find similar objects by characteristics. Or "other similar units".
  2. Find similarities in the characteristics of the context in which the object resides. Or "other markers of the desired unit".

Let's look at the variants in the context of two scenarios: music streaming service and news aggregator.

Find similar objects by characteristics

a) Musical composition: Find songs with similar acoustic characteristics.

Results for the user:

  • Preservation, extension of the state. Listening to similar compositions leads to minimal deviation from the state, or mood, in which the listener currently is.
  • Discovery of new artists.

Results for the product:

  • Increased user satisfaction.
  • Prolonged sessions.
  • Higher retention rate.

b) News article: Find articles with similar characteristics of opinion.

Results for the user:

  • Preservation, reinforcement of opinion. Reading similar articles leads to minimal deviation from the opinion which the reader currently has.
  • Long-term: Creation of informational bubble.
  • Long-term: Resistance to different opinions.

Results for the product:

  • Increased user satisfaction.
  • Prolonged sessions.
  • Higher retention rate.

Find similarities in characteristics of the context

a) Musical composition: Find music by similar context characteristics

Results for the user:

  • Informing. Listening to other compositions from the context helps forming listener's holistic opinion about the context (E.g, "Music of 80's", "Music of Siberia").

b) News article: Find an article with similar context characteristics

Results for the user:

  • Informing, test of opinion. The study of different points of view helps forming reader's holistic opinion about the context (e.g, "Cryptocurrency", "Globalisation").
  • Long-term: Increased tolerance to different opinions.
  • Long-term: Resistance to manipulation.
2020, April 04

Generalist or specialist

Todo: Give context

Copied from conversation:

Firstly, there's a distinction between being a generalist and having a generalist understanding. The first one, as in "laying on a grass", is someone who is going to be either the Founder/CEO of a big company or that guy who closes holes in a big company because there's no budget for specialists.

The latter is the one who is deep enough in something yet knows what's going on in other mines (have a ladder up?). This is what helps you navigate, connect the dots, predict things, be more productive in your own mine, and make a winning switch to a joint mine if needed. Yet there are many examples like javascript front-end developers who don't know a thing about CSS (stuck in a mine?).

Secondly, the grade of knowledge "deep - good - have an idea" is subjective and refers only to your perception. A person with the subjective attitude "good at one thing + several others" can be equal in level of knowledge of that "other" to a person who is an "expert in one discipline". This is just the scale of the resources of a particular person.

2020, March 24 · updated 2021, May 06

Language and transpilers

Todo: Add POV, references

Parallel between the human language and the programming language by the example of terminology.

The process for both languages: reading an instruction → executing a program → rendering information into conscious or on the screen. Both languages ​​have units that are either understood by most or require a compiler. There are several positions regarding the use of terminology in speech.

Positions:

  1. “I don’t like to simplify what I’m talking about because I want to make people think”
  2. "I want to convey an idea to everyone" or "knowledge should be accessible for all and not only to the elite"

Perspectives:

  • The audience
  • Advantages of approaches
  • Degree of interest

Simple language:

  • Understood by a wider audience, it means that information is more accessible.
  • Difficult topics take a long time to develop.
  • Lots of repetitions.

Terminology:

  • Allows you to explain complex topics quickly and accurately. “Once a phenomenon is named, it can be used effectively by building ideas of the next order.
  • Requires a compiler.
2019, November 18

Cognitive changes

Micro-research on cognitive abilities and communication skills while abroad.

In the early period of adaptation to the new environment in which an immigrant begins to communicate primarily using a foreign language, a decline in cognitive abilities appear.

Major factors are (a) the increased workload due to the unusually large use of a foreign language, and (b) the foreign language knowledge level. An immigrant gradually begins to think in two languages, sometimes languages change in turn, other times both are used while building a single thought.

As a result, the brain starts saving resources: the person is using simplified alternatives to native words and phrases during the thought process, which subsequently leads either to a longer logical conclusion or even begins to lead the person on a false conclusion trail. The effect is espesially noticeable if a speaker has low linguistic competence. Language influences how meaning is constructed1.

What another research finds, listeners of non-native speakers also have to adjust "by increasing their reliance on top-down processes"2, hence, they extract less information.


  1. van Nes F, Abma T, Jonsson H, Deeg D. Language differences in qualitative research: is meaning lost in translation?. Eur J Ageing. 2010
  2. Lev-Ari, Shiri. Comprehending non-native speakers: theory and evidence for adjustment in manner of processing. Frontiers in Psychology. 2015