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George Orwell, best known for his satiric novel about Donald Trump, famously remarked that writing an exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke. Little did he know that, roughly a century later, there would be a universally accepted form of punctuation that allows writers to—quite literally—laugh at their own jokes: the smiley, or emoticon ;-)

I use smileys all the time, even in professional communication. But many things about them bother me. Here's one question, which I'm sure you've struggled with as well: Is a smiley a sentence-ending punctuation mark? That is, does a smiley replace a period, question mark, or exclamation point? And if not, should it come before or after the period, question mark, or exclamation point? In other words, which of the following is correct?

  • How are you :-)
  • How are you? :-)
  • How are you :-) ?

I would go with the first option; the others just look too awful. And "how are you" is not really a question anyway. But reasonable people have been known to disagree on this. It's an important issue though, especially in professional communication, where you want to show that you know how to use smileys properly.

And then there's the thorny issue of smiley inflation, or smilflation: Once you've used a smiley once, you have to keep using them. If not, you're making a point, and a pretty harsh one too. Just look:

  • [Ariane] How are you :-)
  • [Justin] Great :-D Will I see you ...
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The psychology and economics of the European debt crisis

Almost fifty years ago, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky conducted their seminal studies on economic decision making, for which Kahneman later won the Nobel prize in economics. Their main message was simple: When it comes to matters of money, people make irrational choices based on gut feelings and intuitions; and these choices are not always in their own best interests.

We now live in the aftermath of the European debt crisis. The core of the eurocrisis was that several European member states were no longer able to finance their government debt; that is, countries like Greece (for whom the crisis is still far from over) had borrowed so much money, mostly from other European member states, that they could no longer pay the interest on these debts.

The way that the European Union (EU) has responded to the eurocrisis is a great example of the irrational economic decisions that Kahneman and Tversky demonstrated fifty years earlier. But on a massive scale—whereas Kahneman and Tversky studied the behavior of individuals, the eurocrisis showed how even economic decisions that affect an entire continent are based on gut feelings and flawed intuitions.

I'm not an economist. And I won't pretend to understand all the factors that played a role in the eurocrisis. But I do think it's useful to look at the eurocrisis with a few basic principles from psychology and economics in mind1. My goal here is to, by doing so, provide a coherent (though obviously very ...

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Video blog: What should ESCoP's new open-access journal look like?

As I wrote two days ago, the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCOP) will launch a new open-access journal. What exactly this journal will look like—and what it will be called—is still up in the air. Therefore, Candice Morey, the future editor in chief, asked the community what they would like to see in the new journal.

In this video blog, I discuss some of the ideas that were offered, and provide some background to, and explanation of, the complex issues involved.

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ESCoP to launch open-access journal

Earlier today, the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCoP) sent out an important email to its members. In this email, ESCoP announced that they will launch a new open-access journal. They further announced that they will break with Taylor & Francis (T&F), the publisher of their current journal, Journal of Cognitive Psychology (JCP). ESCoP's new open-access journal will not be a continuation of JCP. Instead, it will be an entirely new journal, with a new name, and with a new publisher.

A major academic society is moving toward open access—this doesn't happen everyday, and it's therefore an important and positive move. But it's also a surprisingly radical move. What drove ESCoP to make this decision?

Here's what I know, based on discussions and emails with those that were directly involved (I wasn't).

ESCoP initially wanted to transform JCP, their current journal, into open access, or at least to offer an affordable open-access option, while staying with T&F. But, oddly, ESCoP don't own their own journal: JCP is property of T&F. ESCoP is like the journal's caretaker: They get paid a small amount to select an editorial board, promote the journal, etc. But T&F own everything, from the journal's name to the papers published in it. And T&F decide what happens with the journal—the publisher is pulling the strings.

Subscription fees are T&F's main source of income. Unsurprisingly therefore, T&F weren't very ...

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The Eye Tribe is no more! Why?

The Eye Tribe is a cheap eye tracker. Cheap as in really cheap. As in 100 times cheaper than the competition. As in $99 when other eye trackers cost thousands of euros.

When the Eye Tribe was released in late 2013, its price tag was revolutionary. Competitors quickly followed, and right now there are several cheap eye trackers on the market—thanks, at least in part, to The Eye Tribe.

But it seems that I should say: The Eye Tribe was a cheap eye tracker. Because earlier today, I, and with me many others (see also Edwin Dalmaijer's post), received the following disturbing email from them:

Unfortunately, we’ve decided to go in a different direction with our technology and will stop development of our products.

So what happened? There's no news from the company other than this email, and a similar email sent to people who pre-ordered the now-cancelled Eye Tribe Pro, which was set for release in early 2017. They have removed all products from their website. But no explanation.

I'm sure we'll learn more in the future, but for now I can think of three plausible reasons for this surprising development:

  • Perhaps they simply went bankrupt. The $99 price tag may have been too low, causing them to lose money despite—I assume—selling a large number of eye trackers.
  • Perhaps they have been sued by another eye-tracker manufacturer—murder through litigation. If you search on Google, you'll find several references to ...
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