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In the last six years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about motivation. At one startup, we built a platform for personal behavior change. At another, we used interactive chatbots to help people achieve their goals. As you might guess, the underlying question at both companies was “How can we use technology to motivate people?”

I believe behavior can be designed — we can create pathways in real life or in online products that lead people to take action. …

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I made just one innocent political comment and it practically started a war. The conversation quickly escalated until my conservative aunt Karen was yelling at Chris, a left-leaning friend from high school. Once Karen stopped yelling, Chris responded with a thoughtful, tempered response — except for the thinly-veiled Hitler reference at the end of it.

In truth, Karen and Chris have never met in person, and they live thousands of miles apart; this encounter happened on Facebook (names changed for this essay). …

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When technology comes up in a casual conversation with a friend — whether you’re discussing Snapchat, Samsung, or Salesforce— we often joke about just how bad the addiction has gotten. Lately, I haven’t even been sure if addiction is the right word. Sure, there are people with serious technology addictions, on the level of chemical dependence, but the majority of us have little more than a nagging habit, understated by the fact that we love our technology so much.

Most of us don’t want to give up our phones. Why would we? Our phones right now have about 250,000 times the capacity of the computers that landed astronauts on the moon; the power and convenience of our smartphones is breathtaking. …


Max Ogles

Building a new product. Mostly write about startups and behavioral psychology. Published in TechCrunch, Entrepreneur.com, et al. Oxford MBA. Twitter: @maxogles

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