Wednesday, September 30, 2015

LEAP Nomination

I recommend Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) because they work on the root cause of the most pressing health, security, and civil rights subject in the United States: the war on drugs.

Recent CDC data shows that heroin use now qualifies as an epidemic. The Center attributes the heroin boom to the prescription opioid boom of the last 20 years. The drug war approach disables the most vulnerable from finding help.

Prohibition's emphasis on arrest yields an exceptional imbalance: the US has 5% of the world's people, but 25% of its prisoners. Incarceration does not rehabilitate offenders. Quite the opposite. Data clearly shows that the incarcerated are at higher risk for re-admission - and that their families, especially their children, experience higher risk for incarceration.

That dynamic is a clear and present national security risk, including to California. Just this last weekend, in Chicago, more than 50 people were shot. For the second straight weekend. That city appears in eBay merchandise as "Chi-raq" and in the lyrics of popular music, "I feel the pain in my city wherever I go/314 soldiers died in Iraq, 509 died in Chicago".

Lastly, law enforcement suffers in militarized and combative "war footing" relationship to the communities that they police. In our politics, we experience a trade-off between prison guards - who mostly guard drug offenders - and, eg, public school educators.

Lastly, I want to recognize LEAP's core values as consistent with eBay's: people are basically good. Trust, transparency, and connected commerce matter. They have a unique capability to reach an influential constituency - police. And they enjoy professional respect as exemplified by appearance in the recent VicexHBO production "Fixing the System" alongside the President of the United States.

The prohibition against certain drugs enforced by war is not working. I nominate Law Enforcement Against Prohibition for their brave leap to improve public health and public safety.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


In recognition of Memorial Day, I am working on the peace to conclude a long North/South American war. To that end, I joined the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition team raising money on CrowdRise. My goal is to raise $1,000,000.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Year of the Watch

Hello world -

I look forward to talking shop at the Imagine Conference April 19 and 20 in Las Vegas. Many of the companies attending inspire me. Thanks!

My name is Eric Anderson. I will be talking there, at Imagine, about two things:
  1. watch ebay retail forecasts and histories
    1. inside the DSS shop; 
    2. show tools that we are working on from the deep lab; 
    3. click throughs; 
    4. Q&A Zoher Karu, Wilson Pang, and Zach Wasserman (TBD?)
  2. The Year of the Watch - tools for business growth. 3 stories about my favorite tool for business growth: the eBay Watch List, billions of dollars. As an employee - and as a customer - and I want a good tool - like a hammer - to hammer out my goals.
Below is the WIP on the my talk, "The Year of the Watch".

Mary asked me to come and rap about my favorite tool. The eBay Watch List. Let's stop right there. What is the eBay Watch List?:

<graphically show equivalence between Watch List, generic cart, container, basket in the real world, shopping list, photo of pins (voice over = "obligatory"))

It's how I've buttered my bread professionally - which is great. It's also changed how I imagine the world. I want to explain both parts.

I think she asked me to talk about because she sees how I use it like a hammer to hammer my business goals. I told her the story of how I was lost looking at  I have business goals at eBay. My responsibility is to deliver  give you a hammer to help you hammer out your goals.

Over the next 30 minutes, I want to tell you about one that I am using. As an ebay customer and as a business user in the ebay ecosystem carrying global growth goals. ask a few questions about tools - what makes a good one? Where to pick one up at low cost? That's a big one. Where to pick it up at low cost?

My plan is to talk about my hammer. My team's hammer. That hammer is the eBay Watch List. I am going to talk about my favorite tool - as a tool user at eBay. And as a tool user of eBay. The eBay Watch List is a shopping tool - or "feature" - on many, many different ebay pages and apps that enable me to add items to my personal list that I myself customize as a customer.

Asked not to talk specific numbers, I will indicate that they are worthy of "eBay scale". We are talking about a long-standing pattern of wins - not one - a pattern across my own personal experience:
  1. personally - 
    1. as a customer, and
    2. and as a marketer trying to make a bonus
  2. customer segments (all)
  3. statistically rigorous, 90%+ CL, statistically "stable"results (n=25 in email alone that I have direct and intimate experience with (CONFIRM THIS))
  4. time (3 years, 2 months)
  5. geos (us, uk, de, uk, au, )
  6. channels (email, site, )
  7. goals, success methodologies (see #2)
  8. types of people 
    1. Customers 
    2. Bosses
    3. Subordinates
    4. Partners, etc
The Year of the Watch is composed of three acts or stories about the eBay Watch List. I am going to be candid that it's really four - but I blur some lines, taking artist license with a tool from the narrative structure toolkit.  
  1. Golden Watch, 
  2. Hot Watch, 
  3. Top Watch
  4. <graphic = the simple tool that link me to Mary to above pilots - each pilot should get a super cool logo>
You can probably see a pattern. (Patterns are also good tools.) The Year of the Watch. Mary - who booked this thing for me - did not even bother to ask me the name of this talk. She knew. Which I found to be a great experience - Which lowered decision making and coordination costs for both of us. We have a simple tool that we both know about - let's use it. No big deal. That says much more about.

than it says about me or Mary.
My goal today is to help you, your team, and your customers become 10x more productive. I want to persuade you to re-discover your best tools. They are in your shop right now. I promise. They were in mine - there are others in there that I just haven't found yet. It's basically  Just need to rediscover them, get stuff done, and imagine new stuff.

<visual = digging in the crates>

No big deal.


I'd been at eBay about a year. I was lost and kind of cruising. I had reporting obligations for some misguided . I could  Supporting an antiquated metric (clicks) - and unable to really get a handle on our business. I   I was using the tool and "oh - look at that".

How was I allowed to do this? How did we keep control? Couple of key ways:
The costs are relatieve
Take something that already exists.
Use your hammer.holdout groups
  1. exists already, cheap, 
  2. battle-tested, 
  3. indestructible, robust, old->
  4. old, ubiquity/scale/exposure/popular/diverse
Even this methods are not bullet proofs. Not against error from your millenial workforce. Nor from the bias that even experimentation can lead to. That's a story I will explain in a second.

while on personal level, let's just visualize for a second the different personal experiences we encounter when we express intent -  GRIFF - it's a question. "How can I help you??" THat's our challenge in the digital world - how do we get customers to share their goals with us?


 Good tools stimulate the imagination and novel uses.

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: imagination-> new tool
REALITY: imagination<-> new tool
We want to understand what our 


Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes.

Even if you are testing, you are at risk for bias - and bias is how you miss opportunties for, effectively, free money. I am not kidding. Free money that you do not understand.

We were looking for the wrong thing. Our minds were closed to who are customers were and what they were trying to accomplish. Our awareness was low. Our understanding was low. Even in success - the most striking lesson at the time AND in hindsight: how little we know about the things we overlook. We actually didn't have accounting and goals and org stuff set up to handle It was as if we assumed it was impossible. That the results of our tests 

Withstood the test of time across lots of different kinds of tests – UX research, data analytics,
Millennial workforce. Important to get validation from many different groups and methodologies. That indicates a strong, robust tool. Like the hammer.


People click more frequently on the results that provide more meaningful answers, and with simple bookkeeping, meaning, and the map between questions and answers, begins to accumulate over time. Are we searching the search engines, or are the search engines searching us?

"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."

While you don't see it in a literal reading of the text, popular use of this phrase often implies that this temptation is seductive, dangerous, risky business, and negative. The popular usage is slanderous.

The conventional moral is that having a hammer biases/prejudices you, the user, to uses for which some tool was not expressly designed. Like that's a always a bad thing?

That's true. That's absolutely true. And that's a good thing.



<top watch email example here> 

Shout out to our Accenture team for running that one. We are in the midst of a

Instead of learning from one mind at a time, the search engine learns from the collective human mind, all at once. Every time an individual searches for something, and finds an answer, this leaves a faint, lingering trace as to where (and what) some fragment of meaning is. The fragments accumulate and, at a certain point, as Turing put in 1948, "the machine would have 'grown up'".

what are people like me watching @ebay

@imagine2015: what happens when everyone with imagination has a hammer?

Also – the child like questions for an intelligent agent: where do you go to get the questions, and how do you find where the meaning is? If, as Turing imagined, you have the mind of a child, you ask people, you guess, and you learn from your mistakes. You invite people to submit questions - keeping track of all their submissions - and starting with simple template-matching, suggest possible answers from your indexed list.



Why do powerful tools stay camouflaged? Partly through ubiquity. Also - a lot of fear about being wrong I think. Or thought stupid. I remember being personally fearful and anxious to suggest that we offer you I had to fight for it. Far from counterproductive,
  • philosophical debate, 
  • skepticism, 
  • still-unanswered questions
were essential tools for us to accomplish our goals.

I want to talk about what makes a good one? How to find one? Where to pick one up at low cost? That's a big one. Where to pick it up at low cost? My goal is to propose some answers to those questions. My thesis: There is a lot value in old tools, especially. My hypothesis is that many are overlooked and undervalued because of bias.

I've been looking for even older tools to examine their origin. I think I'm looking for stories that spark my 

The hammer for instance. The hammer is a tool. An old one. A good one. But slandered in our water cooler conversation and corner offices. Why? Because it biases you to imagining a new role for you - yourself in your company and in the world.

Think about that. Great tools overdetermine imagination. 

You can and your customers can  combine simple but ever more powerful tools capable of expressing things that you might not necessarily be able to predict in advance:
  1. Galagher
  2. Michaelangelo
  3. Berlin  
NO: inspiration -> new toolYES: new tool <-> inspiration 
 But it's actually not about your tool or my tool or the tool. It's not about the tool. It's about what our customers imagine - and what goals they can accomplish with your tool:
  1. Galagher wants to watch <LAUGHTER>
  2. Michaelangelo wants to watch <david>
  3. Berlin - The Wall is gone

Pick up the right tool. And watch your imagination chase you "like an Olympic speed walker just nibbling at your heels".


Thank you for reading this post.


"First we shape our tools, thereafter they shape us." That's Marshall McLuhan on how we converse with technology. We invent a computer, it alters our minds and emotions, and then we - the computer and us - head off in an entirely new direction. To where? That's the question we recently asked some of the brightest people we know. It's a question with more relevance than ever: We're entering a new era, when digital technology must answer first and foremost to the consumer. As soon as we hit the Send key, we knew we'd hit a nerve. The responses that flooded in were exuberant, disgruntled, sentimental, demanding - sometimes all at once. From cinematographer to gourmet chef to gearhead, each of the contributors to "The Wired Diaries" reveals that the line between our technological creations and ourselves is fundamentally fuzzy. We may differ in what tools we use, but the portrait of humans at the turn of the millennium is clear: We are beings entangled in our inventions. Like all relationships, this intimacy is full of passionate contradictions and unending surprises. And the conversation has only just begun ...