Happiness is not contagious after all :)

An article on the Freakonomics blog repudiates the notion that happiness is contagious. While an increase in your friend’s happiness statistically significantly increases your happiness level, Justin Wolfers contends that the cause is the shared emotional experiences and environments that friends share.

There is no good way to differentiate in the data whether an individual’s increase in happiness is due to his friend’s increase in happiness or to some shared external event that increased both your happiness levels (e.g.; your favorite baseball team just won the World Series).

However, now that I think about it, Justin Wolfer’s explanation seems more probable. Amusingly in the same British Medical Journal where the James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis released their happiness is contagious article, Ethan Cohen-Cole and Jason Fletcher setup an experiment which “proved” that height, headaches and acne are contagious in order to prove that silly experimental setups lead to silly conclusions 🙂

Read the article at:

How We Got Here is a must read for everyone with an interest in technology

Andy Kessler‘s book is a fascinating and witty retelling of the story of technology of capital markets. It effectively walks you through the all the innovations that led to the technologies we now use and the capital markets and bubbles that funded them.

Along the way we become familiar with the men who shaped this history: Pascal, Faraday, Watt, Edison, Tesla, Moore, Metcalfe and many others!

It’s a quick, fascinating read I highly recommend for all!

You can buy it on Amazon or download it for free on Andy’s blog.

The incredible rise and fall of IGE

As a gamer and fan of marketplaces, I have followed with amazement the rise and fall of IGE. It started as a marketplace for Everquest virtual goods and rapidly expanded to others, especially World of Warcraft.

When I looked at the company a few years ago, it was generating tens of millions in revenues. I was shocked that a virtual goods marketplace could be so big. They were actually much more than a marketplace as they actually employed “gold farmers” to play the game and generate items for sale. This position put them at odds with the gaming companies and gamers who were the ultimate source of their revenues. This eventually led to their downfall.

Wired tells the fantastic tale in all its glory – sex scandals, back stabbings and all!

Netflix and the Xbox 360: a match made in Heaven!

As both a movie buff and an avid gamer, I have both an Xbox 360 and a Netflix account. The November 19 revamp of Xbox Live brought Netflix “Watch Now” to the Xbox 360 and I love it!

There is no beating the instant gratification of watching TV show episodes one after the other. I took advantage of the opportunity to watch most of Season 1 of Jericho and Heroes in 2 days!

I had fears the video quality would be low, but it’s actually very good, even on a 58” screen.

Now they just need to expand the library to include all their movies and the service would be fantastic. To truly satisfy the road warrior in me, they should also allow me to watch movies from anywhere in the world on my laptop (after all, I have a US billing address). I would be willing to pay more for those two features – say $19.99 / month.

In fact if they did that, they would no longer need to ship DVDs, I would be satisfied by the Video on Demand (VOD) service.