Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Facebook patents recommendations from contact lists

The USPTO awarded Facebook US Patent 9,338,250, titled "Associating received contact information with user profiles stored by a social networking system" (inventors: Michael Hudack, Christopher Turitzin; Edward Baker; Hao Xu). The patent covers the now standard feature in many social networks, both consumer and professional, where the system finds potential connections in your imported contact list and recommends adding a person who is currently not in your network.

From an innovation methodology perspective, the invention solves a typical problem that arises when users need to be migrated from an old technology space into a new one. In the System model, an effective solution improves scalability, by dramatically reducing costs of adding Sources and Tools during the synthesis phase.

tags: facebook, innovation, invention, patent, social, networking, synthesis

Monday, May 09, 2016

Trade-off of the Day: Warmth vs Competence

In Scalable Innovation, we show how breaking, instead of making trade-offs, allows innovators create breakthrough technology and business solutions. It turns out, successful solutions to trade-offs in human psychology can also be beneficial in one's personal or professional life.

For example, here's how people typically perceive others in two psychologically important dimensions - Warmth and Competence*:

Figure 1 Each quadrant represents a unique combination of warmth and competence. The Partner, combining warmth and competence, inspires admiration. Its opposite, the Parasite, inspires contempt or disgust. The Predator and Pet inspire ambivalent feelings: the cold and competent Predator breeds resentment, while the warm and incompetent Pet inspires pity.

As you can see from the diagram, an ideal situations puts one into the upper right corner labeled "Partner", which combines high Warmth with high Competence. But research shows that in real life, people typically judge others in just one dimension and infer the other one through an implicit trade-off:

Theoretically, warmth and competence judgments vary independently, but in practice they are often negatively correlated, so that groups are stereotyped ambivalently as warm but incompetent, or competent but cold — an effect termed social compensation. For example, older people are perceived as warm but incompetent, and regarded with pity, whereas rich people are perceived as competent but cold, and regarded with envy. 
These ambivalent stereotypes are so ingrained that accentuating only one positive dimension about a person actually implies negativity on the omitted dimension — a secret language of stereotypes perpetuated by communicators and listeners. Indeed, the tendency to focus on the positive dimension of an ambivalent stereotype while implying the negative dimension has increased as social norms against expressing prejudice have developed.**

As we can see, even being perceived in a positive light can lead to negative personal and professional consequences. Therefore instead of succumbing to the trade-off, a psychologically-aware problem-solver would have to use one of the separation techniques to break the trade-off and demonstrate both warmth and competence.

I think I'll turn this real-life problem into a quiz for one of Stanford CSP invention/innovation courses.

* source: The Middleman Economy, by Marina Krakovsky
** source: doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2016.01.004. Promote up, ingratiate down: Status comparisons drive warmth-competence tradeoffs in impression management. Swencionis & Fiske, 2016.