Survey results analysis

Ok, so a few weeks ago, I asked you to help me with a survey. In the spirit of transparency, here are my goals for the survey:

  • Find out more about your interests so I know what excites you, what gets you jumping out of the bed in the morning (ok, maybe not the latter. But hey, it can happen!)
  • Mobile usage, catering to either this blog or my magazine
  • Product ideas (there, commercial interest. Happy?), which the first 2 goals should give me clues to

Specifically, a friend suggested to me about creating an iPhone/iPad app for the magazine. My gut feeling was it’s not really needed. I can’t think of anything I could add to provide more value, where you get something special while reading Singularity on your iPhone/iPad or whatever mobile device you’re using. A PDF file seemed to work just fine. And the general survey results seem to agree with that.

I’ve got a small sample of survey responses, so I’m not going to give specific details, just general answers and trends.

What websites/blogs do you regularly visit?

In my last attempt of a survey, I asked what topics I should write about. That was a dismal failure. The general answer was, “whatever you’re writing about now”. So this time, I had an idea. If I knew what you regularly read about, I could guess at the general topics that interest you. Clever, huh?

The websites/blogs listed have a high technology skew to it. Engadget, Ars Technica, Hacker News and the like. There were other sites listed, on maths, coding and even finance. Of note, The Endeavour (hi John!) and Rands In Repose (by Michael Lopp), because I also read them. My blog was also listed (thanks!). Not too surprising, given my main topics are maths and programming.

I believe I’ve said this before. I don’t write technology stuff because they update too fast and too frequently. And I’m not really that interested in the latest and greatest gadgets, because I’m not much of a consumer.

I’ve got one very amusing answer:

It’s too early in the morning to think about such things.

You made me laugh in this tough period of mine. Thanks!

What magazines (print or online) do you read?

Same reasoning as the first question, but this time with a focus on magazines. I want to know who my *ahem* competitors are…

The Economist was mentioned twice. Remember, I have a small sample size. From what I understand, The Economist is supposed to be hard to understand and digest. You are a very smart person.

I also got confused between 2 other magazines: Scientific American and American Scientist. They’re actually 2 different magazines.

I also discovered a new magazine: 2600. Interesting…

What books do you read? (ebooks count too)

Mostly programming books.

One intriguing response was The Blue and Brown Books (Amazon link) by Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Austrian philosopher.

Other responses include science fiction, fantasy, business, marketing, psychology, self-help, and productivity. This shows the diversity of interests of my readers, which further reinforce the underlying polymath theme of both my blog and magazine. Thank you.

What mobile devices do you use?

iPhone and iPad featured prominently. This suggests that if I were to do a mobile app, the iPhone/iPad platform would give that app the best chance of survival.

What do you use your mobile device(s) for?

The highest uses of mobile devices were browsing the Internet, email and watching videos. Watching videos?!? Really?

Next were work-related activities, listening to podcasts/music and playing games. Followed closely by online shopping and participating in social media sites.

Ok, personally, I prefer to watch videos and listen to podcasts on my desktop at home. This is because I have a slight problem in aural understanding. In simple terms, it means I need my full attention on just listening to words before I can understand them. I can’t put on a podcast and go jogging for example, because I won’t be getting anything from the podcast. And for watching videos on mobile devices, it’s typically done outside/outdoors where it’s noisier. I get irritated if I watch someone’s mouth move but I can’t hear or understand what they just said.

Moving on…

If I can create anything for you to enjoy, what will it be (and what’s the topic if relevant)?

The subtext of the question was

Examples: videos, ebooks, podcasts, webinars, e-course. I can try knitting a sweater for you, but you might find the size a little weird…

Yes, a more direct question on what products I can make money off of help you with.

The answers were all over the place. I’ve got someone who said webinars and e-courses would be nice (but didn’t tell me what topic it would be nice about). But from a few of the responses, it’s about doing what I’m already doing now (I seem to have heard that answer before…).

So my take is, for the disparate subjects, there are blogs and sites and magazines that already cater to those subjects. Maths, programming, entrepreneurship, business, even Singapore culture. I shouldn’t be writing about those subjects just because. I wrote about those subjects because they happen to be interesting at the moment, and that I want you to know about. And I should continue doing so. Perhaps some other interesting subject will come up, and then I’ll write about that.

And that, is what I believe you want me to do. And I will continue to introduce a breadth of interesting material for you as long as you find what I’ve written interesting.

If my blog (Polymath Programmer) and/or my magazine (Singularity) is available on the iPhone/iPad as an app, what do you want to use the app for?

Subtext is

(Or as an app on other mobile devices) (Exclusive interviews, videos, audio? What do you want to see? Let me know!)

The general answer is: don’t make the app. The blog/magazine reads just fine as it is.

Whew. That saves me tons of work with learning Objective-C and setting up the iTunes account and getting it approved and …

Perhaps I’ll do something else, but for now, a PDF file of the magazine works just fine. As technology improves, I think the integration of video/audio into a PDF file will work. You know, like those posters and books in Harry Potter’s world. Moving pictures and sound in a book! Imagine that!

How can I help you?

I need your help. Maybe you’ve been reading this blog for a while. Maybe you just discovered it (hey welcome!). In any case, I really need your help. Because I want to create something that will be valuable to you.

Perhaps I can create supplementary material such as videos and audio. Perhaps there are topics you’re more interested in. I won’t know unless you tell me.

So I’d appreciate it if you could help me with a survey:

UPDATE: Survey closed. Thanks to all who helped!

It will take just a few minutes of your time. No personally identifiable information will be asked of you.

Thanks!

Singapore ranked high in PISA 2009 survey

According to the latest PISA results, Singapore is ranked 5th overall in terms of reading capabilities (see executive summary in PDF). Singapore also scored high in mathematics and science.

“Better educational outcomes are a strong predictor for future economic growth,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel GurrĂ­a. “While national income and educational achievement are still related, PISA shows that two countries with similar levels of prosperity can produce very different results. This shows that an image of a world divided neatly into rich and well-educated countries and poor and badly-educated countries is now out of date.”

Wealth and level of education does not come hand in hand. You still have to work for it.

The best school systems were the most equitable – students do well regardless of their socio-economic background. But schools that select students based on ability early show the greatest differences in performance by socio-economic background.

I’m a bit cautious of this one. Skill honing at an early stage assumes that whatever a student is good at has already manifested itself. It’s a reasonable assumption. It’s only dangerous if the skill specialisation is to the exclusion of all else (or even “many” else). It gets worse if the student don’t like his “special” ability, and also has aptitude in another area that he likes. But the student is already shuffled into Box A for the first skill.

What do you think?

Singularity survey result

Survey

When I first launched my magazine, I also asked you to help with a survey. (Begged you, implored you desperately to do my survey more accurately. Wait, did I just say that out loud?) Anyway, in the interests of transparency, I thought I’d share some of the insights I gained. I can’t tell you the exact results, because it’s only a small sample size. So the results are heavily skewed, but I’m going to be objective about it. There were 5 questions in total.

1. What is your gender? (based on the sum total of you physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically and other -allies)

Quite self-explanatory. You think the addendum is irrelevant? I thought so too, until I read about how complicated it could be to respectfully ask a person’s gender. At least I didn’t ask you if you have a Y chromosome.

I thought I’d simplify the conditions, and let you decide whether you feel you’re a male or female. Hey, you could be a hermaphrodite, but generally feel that you’re masculine. If the criteria gets too complicated, throw them out and go with your gut feeling.

Oh yeah, they were all men.

2. What is your age?

I had 5 ranges:

  • below 20 years old
  • between 20 and 30 years old
  • between 30 and 40 years old
  • between 40 and 50 years old
  • more than 50 years

The survey participants were aged between 20 and 50 years old. Ok, so Pokemon is definitely out of the question…

3. At what price should the Singularity micro magazine be priced at?

The answer was a unanimous “free”. Quite expected. I’m charging for the magazine not because I want to wheedle you out of your hard earned money, but because I gotta eat.

“Free” was the first option. The second option was “$0 to $5”. I was wondering if the $0 would trigger something. Technically, free and $0 are the same. But do people respond more to the word “free”, or to a numeric value “$0”? Oh well, only if I placed them as two separate options, with the third as “$1 to $5” will I find out…

4. In which country are you living in now till 1 year in the foreseeable future?

Due to the small sample size, I will not disclose the answer to protect the innocent. Let’s just say they are all different countries. And none of them is Singapore, so yay I love you international readers! (I still love you readers in Singapore. Don’t mind that last sentence)

The question was phrased that way, to take care of travelling and resettling conditions. The point was to understand if it’s useful to do localised articles specific to a country. If I knew where you lived, I could write articles that include examples, events and activities in your country.

5. What do you want to read about in a magazine in the pursuit and application of knowledge? (write as many subjects as you like)

I wanted to know what you’re interested in. The answer surprised me. The consolidated answer is basically “what you write on your blog”. Ohhkkaayyy…

On further analysis, that is correct. The magazine is geared towards promoting polymathy. I write on diverse topics here on the blog (some of them are even interesting). It makes sense. I should’ve asked some other question…

So your wish is my command. I will go source for various fascinating and exciting topics for your reading pleasure.

[image by ragsac]

A Polymath Programmer survey, because I can’t read minds

The stars have informed me that (closes eyes and places fingers of right hand on forehead), unbeknownst to my inattentive mind, Polymath Programmer had gained quite a few new readers over the past few months. … Alright, fine, the stars had nothing to do with it. I was looking through some of my web stats and analytics information.

So if you’re a new reader, welcome! As a short introduction, you will find articles on math, programming and other (hopefully intellectual) points of interests here. A few articles you might be interested in:

If you’re a long time reader, I’m *sniff* very thankful for your support. *single tear* You’ve been an invisible strength to me during those lonely hours of coding, research and writing.

Now for the main crux. I’m conducting a survey. Even though I can solve programming errors by simply being near them, I can’t read minds. I’m still working on that…

All I ask is your name and email address, and to answer 3 questions. That’s it. All 5 parts are optional, so you don’t have to fill it if you don’t want to (it’ll be nice if you do though).

[UPDATE: Your name and email address is used only for the survey. They are kept confidential, and are not shared with nor sold to anyone. I just want to thank you personally for helping with the survey, that’s all. The survey is intended to let me know more about you, so I can write articles better suited to your interests. Polymathy may encompass many subjects, but it’s easier to start somewhere.]

And here’s the survey link:

[SURVEY CLOSED]

I’m using the service from Survey Monkey. I also notice that their web pages are .aspx. Yay ASP.NET! Ok, that was random…