Book Sips #7 — ‘Irresistible’ by Adam Alter

Josh Morales
Feb 7 · 2 min read
‘Irresistible’ book by Adam Alter

As (digital) product people, whether managers, designers or researchers, we drive our decisions by business KPIs and usage metrics as this are the obvious numbers that when pushed up make the most revenue and traffic for our products. However, the same mechanisms used to make people check an app more often are also the cause of modern digital addictions and out-of-control screen time — behaviors we all suffer today to an extent.

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked’ by Adam Alter is a must to understand the economy of attention and its consequences, especially when it comes to grasping what’s the role of digital products on it. With bright examples from the gaming world and even a brand new digital detox clinic for screen-addicted patients, after reading this book I felt this topic wasn’t just hype but rather a serious concern for the future and a self-reflective opportunity to the way we take the decision the features and services we do. A sip:

‘Work comes home with you in the form of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, and shopping is always an option. It’s tempting to sleep with your smartphone nearby “just in case” […] These devices are engineered to remain with us at all times (that’s one of their key selling points) so it’s easy to allow them to pierce the boundaries between the tech-on and tech-off components of our lives.’

‘Irresistible’ book on a Kandinsky ‘Black Lines’ replica

Attention is today’s scarcest resource. Decide carefully on where to spend your time!


by Adam Alter

Why read?

To fully understand the implications of extreme (and also mild) digital products usage in the short and long term, how products revenues mechanisms are in conflict with healthy individuals usage and, from a personal perspective, to try to limit the usage of certain apps in your phone for example.

368 pages, Penguin Press 2017

Get this book

PM Library

Over 200 curated books that everyone who builds products should read

Josh Morales

Written by

User-obsessed, readaholic and a sociologist after all — Senior User Researcher @N26, Editor of @thepmlibrary and Educator.

PM Library

Over 200 curated books that everyone who builds products should read

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade