A Great Simian or just a Monkey

Month: January 2016

machine learning spotify pocket

Machine learning will save you from the flawed Follow friends

On oh so many services you do find the “Find My Friends” button that will help you get better content in service you use. You find those Facebook and Twitter logins everywhere that want access to your friends to bring you a better “experience”.

I find it mainly a flawed system. This due to the simple fact that the people I follow on Twitter and the friends I have on Facebook etc, might not be the ones I share interest with on the new service. I’ll just give two examples:

  1. Spotify. Spotify launched it’s social discovery feature a long time ago and did it together with Facebook. The thing is that my Facebook friends do not listen to the music I want to discover, they are mainly my friends on Facebook for other reasons.
  2. Pocket. Pocket is my favorite “read-later”-app. It just launched a follow friends feature, I tried it out the only result was that I found the same links that I had already seen on Twitter, from the same people that I follow on Twitter and now in Pocket as well.

There are many many more examples. There are occasions when this do work though. I love both the Newsle and Nuzzle services as examples. Newsle finds article and posts about my connections on LinkedIn, but also from my mail-contacts. Nuzzle simply digests the most intereseting posts from my network from a specific time based on shares etc within my friend / follower network, I do have Nuzzle deliver a daily digest every morning with the last 24 hours hot news in it.

Is there a solution to this flawed “Find my friends” thing?

Naturally there is. I actually took both the above examples since they have alternative ways or actually have changed there service since it launched.

The solution is to know the individual better , learn from the user and then from that, use the data at hand to discover top content for the user.


This was for long a disaster and discovery was the Achilles Heel of Spotify (in my opinion). Spotify realized this and did two things. Spotify acquired Echo Nest and they set-up an additional internal machine learning team. The result speaks for itself. Today the Discover Weekly is a huge success and after 10 weeks since launch Spotifys Discover Weekly had streamed 1 billion songs.

Spotify naturally uses its own technology as well as the acquired Echo Nest platform. it uses natural language to understand blogs, titles and meta data. Then there are many other machine learning things as well as Kafka to work with the data in real-time.

Compared to the the list of what my friends on Facebook listened to, this is huge progress and today a big portion of my listening comes from either curated or automated playlists on Spotify. My user behaiviour have completely changed since Spotify started to work dedicated with Discovery.

To read up on the Discovery features in Spotify:


So I am not a fan of Pockets “What friends share” in the Recommended section, but I am a fan of the posts that Pocket itself recommend to me. It is based on my reading and then presents personal recommendations for me. It is a much simpler use case then the above Spotify one. Pocket also uses natural language processing and simply uses the IBM Watson AlchemyLanguage API on its content. They look at my content and let the Watson service digest entities as well as extract conceps from that content and then use those to find other popular content that matches that info. The wast majority of recommendations I get from Pocket in the Recommendation section (not the ones shared by friends I follow) are spot on and I would say that about 50% of my saves in Pocket has originated from that part of the feature.

For me it is not about what others want to read, it is what I want to read. It took the Pocket team only a very short time to implement as well. There is a case study available to read some more (PDF).



cognitive business

Five ways a Cognitive Business will outperform others

Yep, the title is a selling title, but it is just a short post with five bullets that describes what benefits a cognitive business will have towards a traditional one.

  1. A better customer experience
  2. Personalization and knowledge in your area of business
  3. Productivity
  4. Empower employees and find expertice
  5. Never forget, everything is analyzed, always

As a bonus, a cognitive business never misses information, never forgets and never wonder on what fileserver, in what mail or in what news article something was written. All hidden data like information in documents, images, sounds etc are all accessable in this new era of business.

Just think what impact this will have on your business. A co-worker that never forgets what he read and he reads very fast (by 800M pages per second actually). I say:

Lets give him a really nice salary and put him to work.

Photo: Taken from a British Airways flight from London recently.


Let’s skip the 40h work week

This post is mainly a statement and a foundation in how I think work should be measured in a modern company in this century.

The basics of most employee contracts today

  1. Most companies still measure work in amount of hours per week (40h work week etc).
  2. Most companies still “give” employees X amount of days / weeks of vacation.
  3. Deliverables and role descriptions are often fluffy and not measurable

How should work be measured then?

  1. Have very clear expectations and deliverables for each role. Updated and followed up continously. If possible a real-time dashboard for each employee should exist.
  2. As much vacation as the employee want, it is all about what the employee deliver anyway.
  3. No work hours and work wherever you want, but required participation in team and company event naturally.

Many individuals have roles that are not deliverables driven, but there are always KPIs that can be implemented and measured no matter what role you have.

If you can’t measure it, you are just guessing.

And who want to be percieved as a guesser in the office.

I say, lets go surfing and leave you with the ultimate verison of what I describe above, Patagonia. Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia Founder, is a cool dude who created a really fascinating company as well as company culture and mission (here is the Patagoinia Mission statement for the curious). Another example of company that have implemented this is Netflix.

I am confident this is good for business, good for personal devlopment and good for life!

The top photo is from a work-trip to Bali, thought it fit this post pretty well.

The Perfect Coffee Cup

As every single person that knows me know, I love coffee. Even though I was aware of the impact of a great cup, I have to admit I am a novice. Thanks to my coffee loving collegues Peter and Svante I have now entered the world of coffee cups.

The dynamics and design of a coffee cup

Who thought the cup was so important? Well, it is. The below picture is pretty clear on the important stuff. I especially like the “Great Mouth Feel”, that is never to be forgotten. When you think of it, most of the design facts are pretty straight forward, but how many of us, do actually put weight into that when we are about to buy coffee cups? From now on I am.

percect coffee cup

notNeutral – The Perfect Cup

After the coffee cup discussion had surfaced a few time, Svante realized what I needed and brought a notNeutral Cappuccino cup with him to one of our meetings. I was sold, now trying to enforce a complete rewamp of our coffee cup inventory, going all in on notNeutral. notNeutral supplies all cups needed for an addict like me. Actually counted our coffee cups at home to over fourty, only three of those (one being the notNeutral gift from Svante and Peter) fulfill the “The Perfect Cup” criterias. I will succeed in convincing the rest of the family that it is worth it and absolutely necessary.

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