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Author: Maurits Kaptein
Dr. Maurits Kaptein is an assistant professor in Statistics at the University of Tilburg, Researcher at the Aalto School of Economics, and distinguished visiting scholar at Stanford University. Maurits is also the co-founder and Chief Scientist of Science Rockstars, the company behind PersuasionAPI. Maurits his research work focusses on the effect of persuasion at the level of individual customers.
A colleague of mine, Arjan (@arjanharing), is a great table tennis player. And when I say great, I mean great: I have witnessed a table tennis tournament in our offices during a BBQ with over a 100 people, and nobody – repeat nobody – was able to return his service.
Now, I must admit that his service is definitely his main strength in the game. I mean, he is a good player, but the exceptional service makes him a player who is hard to compete with even for the well trained and the profs.
But recently, “they”, the people who run the table tennis rules, decided to change the rules of the game.
The change might seem minor to you and me (assuming here that you are, like me, not a trained table tennis player): they changed the way in which you are allowed to hold your hand when throwing the ball into the air to serve.
When I heard about it—and tried it—I could not really tell the difference. However, to Arjan, a trained expert, the little change of rules made him loose his extraordinary skills. A drop from exceptional to mediocre, by a little change of the rules.
Now, why would you care about changes in the rules of table tennis? Well, that’s because the emotions that overwhelmed Arjan when notified of the change share lots of similarities with the emotions that are overwhelming internet marketers all around the world: “They” are changing the rules of the game.