>_ Streaks

Streaks are a powerful technique for developers to increase user retention and engagement. For example, Snapchat shows you the number of consecutive days you’ve been exchanging messages with a friend and rewards you with special emojis the longer you manage to keep the streak alive.

The user’s urge to continue the streak doesn’t really come from the positive rewards though, but is mainly based on negative reinforcement, namely the fear of losing the streak. This behaviour can be attributed to the “Sunk Cost Effect”, which describes our reluctance to pull out of something we have put effort into.

There has been a lot of criticism lately about negative reinforcement loops and gamification techniques that make apps more addictive – especially when used by services or games which are primarily used by kids/teens.

But streaks can also be extremely helpful when used in the context of self-improvement because they help to build habits.

I currently use three tools that use streaks which help me to build (and maintain) habits and be more productive:

β€’ Headspace
Headspace will show you the number of consecutive days you’ve been meditating. Making meditation a daily habit has been super difficult for me and the streaks have definitely helped. I wish they were more public though to add some social pressure.

β€’ Swarm
This one might be a little suprising to some of you, because most people just use Swarm as a life logging tool to remember which places the have visited. Swarm introduced streaks a while ago, but I’m not sure how many people use it build habits. I use to make sure I go for a swim at least once per week. I am currently at week 73 and counting πŸ’ͺ.

β€’ WIP Chat
WIP is a community of makers and a public to-do list at the same time. Apart from the negative reinforcement (losing the streak), it also adds a lot of positive reinforcement in form of the encouragement from other makers in the community. WIP is one of the best products I’ve started using recently and has definitely helped me to be more productive. Great job, Marc! πŸ‘

>_ Emojis as a Platform Moat

There have been a few reports recently about Apple rejecting apps which make use of Apple’s emoji set outside of the keyboard.

I find this very surprising. Emojis are a completely underrated platform moat, in my opinion.

Android and iOS have become more and more similar and there are hardly any switching costs left for consumers:

β€’ Both operating systems offer pretty much the same features
β€’ You have high-end devices for both platforms (most importantly equal camera quality)
β€’ All major apps are available for both iOS and Android
β€’ Switching from iOS to Android literally doesn’t take more than a few minutes

This leaves Apple with only handful advantages over Android:

β€’ New apps are usually released on iOS first (temporary exclusivity)
β€’ Apps which are only available on iOS, most importantly iMessage
β€’ And: Emojis

Android has several emoji-problems:

β€’ Some emojis look vastly different than their iOS counterpart leading to miscommunication
β€’ Due to Android’s openness some OEMs use custom emoji sets
β€’ The emoji redesign that comes with Oreo looks horrible
β€’ Fragmentation means that lots of emojis aren’t available at all

I don’t have data to back this up, but I’m pretty sure there are psychological switching costs because you feel partly excluded from the conversations you are having with your iOS-friends (especially in group chats).

So Apple should embrace the use of its emoji set as much as possible, but prohibit developers from using them in their Android apps (which I assume has happened in the case of WhatsApp and Slack).

It’d be great if someone would come up with an open-source set of great looking emoji that become the standard across all platforms.

>_ Media Consumption (January ’18)


Read (parts of) 2 books (130 min, -68%) and 26 long-form articles (-21%).
Listened to 814 songs (+26%), 2 audiobooks (1115 min, +104%) and 4 podcasts (268 min, +36%).
Watched 5 movies (+/- 0%), 2 soccer matches (-33%) and 21 TV episodes (+ ∞).


Akira, Vol. 1 (Katsuhiro Otomo)
β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘ Progress: 30-50%

Utopia for Realists (Rutger Bregman)
β–‘β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“ Progress: 3-100%

The Three-Body Problem (Liu Cixin)
β–‘β–‘β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“ Progress: 11-100%

Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)
β–‘β–‘β–“β–“β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘ Progress: 8-18%

Recommended Articles:

My Family’s Slave (The Atlantic)

Everyone Is Getting Hilariously Rich and You’re Not (The New York Times)

In Search of the Elusive Bitcoin Billionaire (Reason)

Tyler Cowen’s 12 rules for life (Marginal Revolution)

Amazon’s Go and the Future (Stratechery)

Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble (The New York Times)

Recommended Podcasts:

Confronting Your Fears and Taking a Leap with Pieter Levels of Nomad List (Indie Hakcers)

(Movies crossed off the IMDB Top 250 list: 4)

Star Wars: Episode VIII (Rating: 3/5)

The Pianist (Rating: 4/5)

Good Will Hunting (Rating: 4/5)

To Kill a Mockingbird (Rating: 2/5)

A Beautiful Mind (Rating: 4/5)

Recommended TV-Series:

The End of the F*cking World

The Crown (Season 2)


Top Artists: Nils Frahm, Radiohead, Thom Yorke, Nine Inch Nails, Hans Zimmer
Favorite Song: Thom Yorke – Black Swan

>_ Media Consumption (December ’17)


Read (parts of) 3 books (410 min, +925%) and 33 long-form articles (-20%).
Listened to 646 songs (-6%), 3 audiobooks (547 min, +8%) and 7 podcasts (197 min, -13%).
Watched 5 movies (+67%), 3 soccer matches (-40%) and 0 TV episodes (same).


Leonardo da Vinci (Walter Isaacson)
β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“ Progress: 60-100%

Cryptoassets (Chris Burniske)
β–‘β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘ Progress: 5-40%

Meditations (Marcus Aurelius)
β–“β–“β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘ Progress: 0-12%

Akira, Vol. 1 (Katsuhiro Otomo)
β–“β–“β–“β–“β–“β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘ Progress: 0-30%

Utopia for Realists (Rutger Bregman)
β–“β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘ Progress: 0-3%

The Three-Body Problem (Liu Cixin)
β–“β–“β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘β–‘ Progress: 0-11%

Recommended Articles:

I can tolerate anything except the outgroup (Slate Star Codex)

How to Hire Fake Friends and Family (The Atlantic)

What You Can’t Say (Paul Graham)

Disney and Fox (Stratechery)

The App That Reminds You You’re Going to Die (The Atlantic)

He Stole $100 Million From His Clients. Now He’s Living in Luxury on the CΓ΄te d’Azur. (Bloomberg)

The Danger of President Pence (New Yorker)

Why Cryonics Makes Sense (Wait But Why)

Recommended Podcasts:

Tim Urban, Wait But Why (Kevin Rose Show)

Andy Weir on the Economics of Sci-Fi and Space (Conversations With Tyler)

(Movies from IMDB Top 250 list: 3)

American Beauty (Rating: 3/5)

The Shawshank Redemption (Rating: 5/5)

Old boy (Rating: 5/5)

Gangster Squad (Rating: 2/5)

Swiss Army Man (Rating: 4/5)


Top Artists: Portugal. The Man, Philip Glass, Radiohead, The National, Franz Ferdinand
Favorite Song: Moby – Like A Motherless Child

>_ List of Things I Want to Do in 2018

  • Improve my swim skills
  • Go for a swim at least once per week
  • Swim more than in 2017 (101km)
  • Meditate at least 5 times per week
  • Finish and launch prototype of β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ
  • β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ
  • β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ
  • Read at least 15 books
  • Read/watch more Manga/Anime
  • Write 12 long-form blog posts
  • Update design of this blog
  • Move to Berlin
  • Do a total of 10950 push-ups
  • Watch 50 movies from the IMDB Top-250 list
  • Eat less sugar
  • Limit meat consumption to 24 meals
  • Write more lists
  • Visit a country I’ve never been to before