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The Book Klub

The past few weeks I took a course on Coursera called Gamification

In simple terms, Gamification is the utilization of Game Design and Game Elements for a non-game context and objective. These objectives can be for Internal Growth (firm trying to motivate its employees), External Growth (firm trying to market a product and make it engaging), and behavior change (a government health institution aiming to improve its communities health). Of course, all to be done in a fun and voluntary fashion.

The following is one of the assignments we had to do, which was quite interesting and relevant to the current age of market needs. In addition to the question, I am submitting the answer I have provided for my assignment.

Now that you know the essential concepts about gamification and game design, it’s time to use them. For this final task, we ask you to bridge this gap as you meld creativity and structure to match peoples’ needs with technical feasibility and business realities.

You are approached by Cheyenne Kendrick, the CEO of Go Digital Press (GDP), a global publisher of electronic books for devices such as the Kindle, Nook, and iPad. She knows you are one of the top experts on gamification, which she has heard can revolutionize publishing. She asks you to present a proposal for a gamified system to take her business to the next level.

GDP concentrates on the trade segment of the book market, i.e. non-fiction publications that would traditionally appear in bookstores, rather than mass-market paperbacks. Approximately 50% of its titles are targeted at business professionals; 25% are educational resources on technical topics such as computer programming; and the remainder address a variety of different subjects.

As a pioneer in e-book publishing, GDP faces the challenge that many users, even in the U.S., do not yet own reader devices. As of April 2012, only 21% of American adults reported that they had read an e-book in the past year, although those numbers are increasing rapidly. Kendrick tells you that another concern is that the device manufacturers and their associated distribution platforms control the sales process, making it difficult for publishers such as GDP to obtain data or develop direct customer relationships. On the positive side, an e-book is a flexible digital asset, which can offer interactive features beyond any physical book. Kendrick asks you to propose a way to gamify the distribution or consumption of e-books, or both.

Provide a detailed description of your proposal, organized according to the design framework described in the lectures in Unit 7:

1. Define business objectives
2. Delineate target behaviors
3. Describe your players
4. Devise activity loops
5. Don’t forget the fun!
6. Deploy the appropriate tools

A summary of each concept is provided on the Gamification Design Framework page.

Go Digital Press (GDP) is a global publisher of ebooks for ebook devices. Cheyenne, CEO of GDP, is seeking a solution via a gamified system that can take her business to the next level. The challenges that are hindering GDP’s growth:

  • Small number of users own reader devices.
  • Sales process is controlled by device manufacturers and distribution platform.
  • Limited accessibility to customers.

Despite the challenges, Cheyenne noted that ebooks are flexible digital assets, which can offer interactive features beyond books.

Based on the information above, the objective of the gamified system is:

  • Increase in the sales and profits generated from ebooks sold.
    Justification: The ultimate goal of the project is to take GDP to the next level of growth in terms of business.

It’s essential to note that gains derived from the objective must benefit both GDP and its user base; otherwise, disregarding the demand of the user base and focusing on benefits for GDP will only lead to short-term progress.

Target Behavior:
The behavior the gamified system must promote within GDPs market segment is the shift to the use of ebook devices rather than hardcopy books. Through the increase of ebook device users, more readers will be motivated to purchase and interact with GDP products and services. In order to reach the greater market of users who have yet to purchase, or use, ebook devices, the system will utilize the power of influencer marketing, integrated with game elements, to bring aboard users more quickly. Influencer marketing is marketing focused on key individuals that have influence over potential buyers, such as friends, family and their social network.

Within the gamified structure, metrics and analytics will be put in place to tweak and improve the gamified system; leading to identifying ways of encouraging the needed behavior. Due to limitation of access to user data through the ebook devices, the data must be acquired through both the GDP ebooks and their website interface.

In order to build trust and respect users data, the privacy of users must be maintained and respected.

The Players:
GDP publishes and sells books that are:

  • 50% targeted at business professionals
  • 25% are educational resources on technical topics
  • 25% address variety of different subjects

The information provides us a good perspective of the players of the gamified system. To narrow it further, the players can be categorized into four groups in the order of significance:

  • The Entrepreneurs: They can be the CEO of a Forbes 500 company, or owner of a Laundromat in a neighborhood. Their demographics vary greatly; however, their psychographics share many common elements: Learning how to improve their business, being up-to-date with the current business practices in the industry, and lack of time to seek proper education in universities/seminars that provide business courses. They’re experienced individuals that can add tremendous value to the gamified system based on their feedback and contribution to the gamified environment.
  • The Explorers: They’re passionate and curious individuals that want to learn about the topic of their interest or discover other realms of knowledge. Their goal is to expand their knowledge and skill. Their passion is the key element to further promote GDP products if it appeals their curiosity and learning. They’re powerful influencer marketers that reach out to their circle of interest; whether it’s friends, family, colleagues or social network.
  • The Educators: Instructors of educational institutions seek titles that are suitable for their curriculum, provides their students with ample amount of information that can help them learn, and simplifies their work as educators (through online homework and quizzes, online forum discussion, etc). They’re very powerful influencer marketers as the books they recommend, or request their student to purchase, will lead to the increase in the purchase of ebooks.
  • The Embarkers: Individuals that embark, on the journey of learning or knowledge for the sake of completing a class/seminar, satisfying their employer’s request, or other factor that lead them to purchase the ebook. They’re only motivated through extrinsic means (salary, grade…etc). However, they have potential influence over their social network if they acquire intrinsic motivation; leading them to becoming loyal customers of GDP products.

Based on the categories above, it’s evident that demographics are highly variable. However, the goal is to target the demands of the users based on their psychographic needs (for example, “I want to learn about the new business practice in the field of gamification”). Through the deployment of the gamified product by GDP that carries extrinsic motivators, combined with the potential intrinsic motivation of learning within the players, GDP can successfully delineate the behavior they seek (purchase of ebooks and ebook reading devices), and satisfy their objectives (growth in sales/profit, gain access to users).

“The Book Klub”


The Book Klub is an online community that is integrated within GDP ebooks and website. Its purpose is to transform concrete non-fiction materials fun, sociable, and valuable. It encompasses elements such as points, badges (no leaderboard), and creativity forums. The elements devise activity loops, ensures fun, and aims in deploying appropriate tools (the three sub-elements are interconnected within the system) whose aims are to satisfy The Book Klub’s purpose and the business objectives of GDP.

The Journey of the Apprentice:

When purchasing a GDP ebook, the user will be prompted to either login or signup. Once they sign-up, an account will be made both online (The Book Klub website) and the front page of their ebook. The user will start as an Apprentice (level 1 user), whose journey is based on the skills they learn from the subjects they’re interested in. Depending on their path and journey, they will elevate to new levels for the title; such as Mentor, Consultant, Specialist, and Craftsman. The user’s profile represents a virtual shelf of the books and badges the user acquired from their journey. On the front of each title, they can see the progress bar of their reading and their total score for each title.

Utilizing progression loops, the end of each chapter of an ebook carries a mini-quiz. The quiz can be repeated infinitely, where the last grade will be taken into account. The purpose is to promote fun and motivation through performance-contingent rewards. If the user completes all quizzes (i.e. complete the book) with an average over a pre-defined score, they receive a special badge depending on the score and retain a special title in the Book Klub community.

Utilizing engagement loops, actions include:

  • Highlighting – When highlighting important point, the highlighted will go to the Book Klub community which will be scored based on community voting (one Like = +1). If the point was highlighted before, the user will receive the total score derived from the originally highlighted information. Such function will utilize “Achievement” methodology which surprises the user that they received a certain number of points just from highlighting a point. In addition, the power of crowd sourcing discourages improper use of highlighting.
  • How much you read today compared to past – Provides feedback to the user on how much more they’ve read compared to before; appearing as a pop-up after they bookmark the last page they read. This encourages the completion of the ebook faster, leading to purchase of other ebooks much more quickly, and encourages the habit of reading and using ebook reader devices. Special badges can be provided for those who read 25%, 50% or all the ebook in one instance.
  • Submission of creative content – Some individuals derive inspiration from the ebook, leading them to either generate notes, artwork, model systems, or create useful powerpoints based on the title they’re reading. If they publish the content to the online community, they receive points based on community voting and GDPs specification; special badges, prizes or awards can be provided depending on number of votes, uniqueness and author-provided badges. This action must be nourished as it’s the true form of fun and outlet of intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, it makes GDPs content human-centered, rich and fruitful; leading to increase of users purchasing GDP products to tap into the knowledgebase of the Book Klub community.

To maintain an exclusive status, the online community is only accessible by individuals that purchase GDP products (similar to Xbox Live). The more titles of GDP purchased, the more access the user will gain to the content shared by the community members of different titles. The exclusivity provides a sense of status and fosters a sense of learning. However, users can invite their social-network to join the community by encouraging them to purchase the titles. Such action can be rewarded through points or badges depending on the number of accepted invites.

GDP can hold online or regional events based on the findings they received from their user base to further increase customer loyalty, expand their customer base and increase customer satisfaction; such as talks by the author, or invitation of active members to discussion panels to improve the title (similar to Ebay’s Top Seller Conference), or a fun conference like Dreamforce. Badges and titles can be awarded for participation at these, making the players more reputable and recognizable among their online peers.

The system will foster a fun collaborative environment where value is derived from a fun social-oriented activity, while maintaining individual uniqueness and progress (both sparking intrinsic motivation). In addition, the system will guarantee the satisfaction of business objectives while ensuring that the users benefit greatly, too.

The first woman to win a Nobel Prize in Economics

It is a sad day for the people in the field of Economics. Today I’ll write about Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in the year 2009. She passed away this morning at Indiana University’s Health Bloomington Hospital. Elinor was a political scientist; however, she had a deep interest in the science of Economics; more specifically, in understanding how people interact with one another and how they utilize common pool resources, such as forests, fisheries, oil fields, grazing lands, and irrigation systems. She was renowned for her work and efforts in “her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”. She was the first, and to date, the only woman to win the prize in this category.
In other words = LIKE A BOSS!

Elinor Ostrom receiving the Nobel Prize


Elinor was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She grew up in a family of mixed religious background (Protestant and Jewish), and pursued the degree of Political Science at UCLA (from Bachelor’s all the way to Ph.D.). According to her colleagues at Indiana University, she often spoke about what it was like to be a child of the Great Depression, helping her family grow food in a large garden and knitting scarves for soldiers during World War II.

At the workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis

In 1973, she co-founded A Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University with her husband, Vincent Ostrom. Examining the use of collective action, trust, and cooperation in the management of common pool resources, her institutional approach to public policy, known as the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework, has been considered sufficiently distinct to be thought of as a separate school of Public Choice Theory. Public Choice Theory models people, institutions and groups as mainly self-interested. In particular, it studies such agents and their interactions in the social system either as such or under alternative constitutional rules. In the realm of political science, for example, Public Choice Theory takes shape in the form of votes, politicians and bureaucrats; where the voter behavior influences the behavior of public officials.

Noble Prize “for her analysis of economic governance”

Ostrom, who won a share of the 2009 prize for her groundbreaking research into how people overcome selfish interests to successfully manage natural resources, and are capable of creating rules and institutions that allow for the sustainable and equitable management of shared resources. In essence, how resouces can be managed successfully by the people who use them, rather than by governments or private companies. She shared the prize with Oliver Williamson, a University of California economist.

The Research

To demonstrate the significance of her work, we can share the following example that was shared by Zoe Chace of NPR’s Planet Money:

One of the knottiest issues in economics is the tragedy of the commons. But Elinor made it not so tragic, after all. In 1968, young Elinor read an article by Garrett Hardin which posed a classic economic problem: A cow pasture open to everyone.

The problem states that everyone would then put their cows on and they would overharvest. That’s the classic tragedy of the commons – everyone uses something, but no one is in charge. So nobody takes it upon themselves to take care of a common good. According to Garret Hardin who posed the problem, he stated that the people who faced this problem are trapped and have no solution. Leading to the conclusion that they require an outside factor to interfere to solve their problem; either the government had to step in and police the pasture or the pasture had to be divided up between the people who used it and privatized.

That was the only way to solve the tragic problem, as Hardin saw it. But Ostrom found tons of examples where this didn’t play out. In fact, in the Swiss Alps, there was this exact situation: A pasture with cows on it in the mountains.

These cows found Garrett Hardin's problem disappointing

In the Alps, it’s patchy. And so it snows well in one location, and another one, not much. Therefore, depending on where you placed your cows, you’ll either be lucky, or unlucky, depending on the climate throughout the whole year. Hence, if you fenced it off into small sections, then most of the farmers would be out of luck every year. But just put a fence around the whole thing and everyone benefits.

This might be common sense, but considering that economics of the past revolved around the fact that people are only motivated by self-interest, Ostrom’s research expresses the reality that people are not purely motivated by self-interest, and that people have the potential to arise to a better conclusion and outcome through cooperation and pertaining a common goal.

Struggle and Success

There isn't much to say here...

After she was awarded the Noble Prize, she gave an interview at NPR regarding the struggles she faced as a young woman pursuing her education:

Ostrom spoke with NPR’s Michele Norris about how as a young woman she wasn’t allowed to study trigonometry because she was going to be “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.”

Michael McGinnis, a friend and colleague who was at her bedside when she died, said that Ostrom donated her share of the $1.4 million Nobel award money to the workshop — the biggest by far of numerous several academic prizes with monetary awards that the Ostroms had given to the group over the years.

Women and the World

In the teachings of the Baha’i Faith, women are considered as important elements in our society that promote education, spiritual and ethical values, and instruments that direct their energies in social growth and prosperity. Unfortunately, there exists many inequalities against women in both the East and the West. For example, in the current global economy, institutions and organizations hold the view that women are not “rational” for decision processes since they believe they are emotionally motivated and that women base their judgement on impulsive motives (University of Louisiana at Lafayette Thesis by Roslin Growe and Paula Montgomery – Women and the Leadership Paradigm: Bridging the Gender Gap). Other stereotypes include that women are not “educated” enough to be leading workers in an organization. Unfortunately, such prejudices lead to women being discouraged from attaining higher goals, or values, in their lives. According to the 2007 Census for the United States, from the 210,019 individuals who participated, woman are 50.1% of the working industry. However, the mean, or average, income of women is 62% of the mean income of working males in the industry.

Even though there are global forces that are working in narrowing the gap between male and females, certain cultural elements in our society and even media pressures them through the negative stereotype that is amplified in our economic system. What’s even more disheartening is that the effect of such stereotypes and mental framework are directly effecting the performance of women, too. In the book Predictably Irrational – The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions, Dan Ariely discusses the influence of our environment in our decision making through series of experiments conducted by scientists, behavioral economists and psychologists. In chapter 9, “The Effect of Expectations – Why the Mind Gets What It Expects,” Ariely describes an experiment testing Asian American and women stereotypes, he states:

“Research on stereotypes shows not only that we react differently when we have a stereotype of a certain group of people, but also that stereotyped people themselves react differently when they are aware of the label that hey are forced to wear (in psychological parlance, they are “primed” with this label). One stereotype of Asian-Americans, for instance, is that they are especially gifted in mathematics and science. A common stereotype of females is that they are weak in mathematics. This means that Asian-American women could be influenced by both notions…Those who had been reminded that they were women performed worse than those who had been reminded that they were Asian-American. These results show that even our own behavior can be influenced by our stereotypes, and that activation of stereotypes can depend on our current state of mind and how we view ourselves a the moment.”

In my opinion, it is a shame that such prejudice holds in our community when in fact women are the first educators of the child.

The question to now ask are:

What is the role of women in the society?

What purpose do their role play?

And how can we eliminate these prejudices from our community?

To help you answer these questions, I have gathered some beautiful quotes from Baha’i Writings, Philosophers and other renowned figures. I believe that these quotes are universal, and are suitable for this current time and age for our society to diagnose this prejudice and heal the wounds and the suffrage that women felt. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did:

Women, Education and Abolition of War:

“…imbued with the same virtues as man, rising through all the degrees of human attainment, women will become the peers of men, and until this equality is established, true progress and attainment for the human race will not be facilitated.

The evident reasons underlying this are as follows: Woman by nature is opposed to war; she is an advocate of peace. Children are reared and brought up by the mothers who give them the first principles of education and labor assiduously in their behalf. Consider, for instance, a mother who has tenderly reared a son for twenty years to the age of maturity. Surely she will not consent to having that son torn asunder and killed in the field of battle. Therefore, as woman advances toward the degree of man in power and privilege, with the right of vote and control in human government, most assuredly war will cease; for woman is naturally the most devoted and staunch advocate of international peace.”

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá During His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, p. 375

First Educators of Mankind:

“The duty of women in being the first educators of mankind is clearly set forth the Writings. It is for every woman, if and when she becomes a mother, determine how best she can discharge on the one hand her chief responsibility a mother and on the other, to the extent possible, to participate in other aspect of the activities of the society of which she forms a part.”

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 619

Women should devote their energies to Sciences:

“Woman must especially devote her energies and abilities toward the industrial and agricultural sciences, seeking to assist mankind in that which is most needful. By this means she will demonstrate capability and ensure recognition of equality in the social and economic equation.”

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá During His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, p. 238

Liberation of Women can be achieved through equality:

“To be liberated, woman must feel free to be herself, not in rivalry to man but in the context of her own capacity and her personality.”

– Indira Gandhi, Selected Speeches and Writings of Indira Gandhi, September 1972 – March 1977

Being a mother and an instrument in the transformation of society:

“In my memoir, I wanted to introduce American women to Iranian women and our lives. I’m not from the highest echelons of society, nor the lowest. I’m a women who is a lawyer, who is a professor at a university, who won the Nobel Peace Prize. At the same time, I cook. And even when I’m about to go to prison, one of the first things I do is to make enough food and put it in the fridge for my family.”

– Shirin Ebadi, from 2006 interview by New America Media editor Brian Shott (translator, Banafsheh Keynoush) about her newly released book, Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope

Education can unleash the potential of women:

“The woman who is forbidden to educate herself save in the duties of the servant, or is limited in her educational pursuits is indeed a slave, because her natural instincts and God-given talents are subordinated in deference to her condition, which is tantamount to moral enslavement.”

– Qasim Amin, Al-Marat Al Jadidah

Education can reveal the treasure of our capacities:

“Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.”

– Baha’u’llah, Tablet of Maqṣúd