Pulse: The new book

My next book – Pulse: The New Science of Harnessing Internet Buzz to Track Threats and Opportunities – is on track to come out in April.  We are just going the edit process for the manuscript.

This book is an expansion on a concept I mentioned in How to Measure Anything. I write about how sources of massive amounts of data on the internet can be used to track and forecast major trends.  Recent research shows how an analysis of millions of Tweets or Twitter can be used to forecast movie box office receipts or political opinions.  Google Trends data about the frequency of search terms can be used to track unemployment levels and flu outbreaks.  It is a vast new measurement instrument that is mostly untapped.

My publisher and the experts I asked to review the manuscript are excited about this book.  I’ll keep you posted.

Doug Hubbard

Metric Junkie: A Useful Insight

Do Amazon book ranks tell us anything?  Sure, they convey something about the popularity of a given book, but looking a the current rank of a book on Amazon is just a snapshot of a fairly volatile number.  It would be much more useful if we could see how the ranks of books have changed over time.  Fortunately, that is fairly easy to do.

 The site www.metricjunkie.com allows anyone to track Amazon sales ranks of up to ten books.  I track my books on Metric Junkie and I see how the ranks change when my publisher does a promotion, when an ad comes out in a magazine, when I’m interviewed by a radio host, when I speak at a conference, and so on.  Since I also track some other books in similar categories, I can even see that their are seasonal and weekly cycles that affect all business books.

This site made me wonder if this could tell us even more.  Can the ranks of books about a topic like buying homes or how to interview for a job tell use something about bigger trends than the sales of a single book?  I think it is possible and that is part of the topic of my next book.

Stay posted,


Second Edition HTMA #1 in Statistics

Who really knows what drives Amazon’s decisions about how books should be categorized?  Not me.  The first edition of How to Measure Anything was categorized on Amazon as “math for business” and it was virtually always able to hold the #1 rank in that category for the three years since its publication.

Now the second edition has been categorized, instead, as “statistics”.   I was concerned that the new category might exclude more readers; however, it does not seem to have had that effect.  Statistics is also a more competitive category.  But my concerns seemed to be misplaced.  It has held the #1 rank in statistics almost every day since its release and the overall Amazon rank has also been consistently better.  Perhaps the new category will help it reach more people after all.  What was I thinking questioning Amazon’s judgment, anyway?

Doug Hubbard

Buzz on the 2nd Edition of HTMA causes Wiley to accelerate release

Wiley has decided to accelerate the release of the second edition of How to Measure Anything.  Instead of being released in May, it will be shipped to warehouses this month and ready for sale in early April.  Apparently, the book is a source of a lot of positive buzz in the publisher’s offices and they saw a business opportunity for getting it out faster.  I have definitely noticed a sense of getting “special attention” on every aspect of the development of the second edition.

My readers routinely tell me that they heard about the first edition at the some big conference or, in some cases, was made required reading by their superiors.  It has been the #1 bestseller in Amazon’s math for business category for two years and is in the top 100 of all management books.  I’m told this is unprecedented.  I’m also told that Wiley has received an exceptionally high number of advanced orders for the second edition.

Now all I need is a viral video…

Doug Hubbard

The Measurement Challenge

I’m reintroducing the Measurement Challenge for the blog.  I ran it for a couple of years on the old site and had some very interesting posts. 

Use this thread to post comments about the most difficult – or even apparently “impossible” – measurements you can imagine.  I am looking for truly difficult problems that might take more than a couple of rounds of query/response to resolve.  Give it your best shot!

Doug Hubbard

Can “expert” training increase confidence while making judgments worse?

I came across more interesting research about possible “placebo effects” in decision making.  According to the two studies cited below, receiving formal training in lie detection (e.g. so that law enforcement officers are more likely to detect a untruthful statement by a suspect) has a curious effect.  The training greatly increases confidence of the experts in their own judgments even though it may decrease their performance at detecting lies.  Such placebo effects were a central topic of The Failure of Risk Management.  I’m including this in the second edition of How to Measure Anything as another example of how some methods (like formal training) may seem  to work and increase confidence of the users but, in reality, don’t work at all.

  • DePaulo, B. M., Charlton, K., Cooper, H., Lindsay, J.J., Muhlenbruck, L. “The accuracy-confidence correlation in the detection of deception” Personality and Social Psychology Review, 1(4) pp 346-357, 1997
  • Kassin, S.M., Fong, C.T. “I’m innocent!: Effect of training on judgments of truth and deception in the interrogation room” Law and Human Behavior, 23 pp 499-516, 1999

Thanks to my colleague Michael Gordon-Smith in Australia for sending me these citations.

Doug Hubbard