Have you ever said you are going to watch one 5-minute video on YouTube and end up spending hours there instead? Ever checked Facebook before bed and end up way past your bedtime? Then this book is for you. Hooked is written for the entrepreneur, app developer, and technology company but I found it just as valuable as a tool to understand how these new platforms invading our lives are being built.
It’s important to remember that our college’s top students are no longer going to Wall Street. They are going to Silicon Valley and they are figuring out ways to get you to stay on their platform for longer periods of time. Hooked, released in 2014, gives a pithy (just over 200 short pages) guide to building habit-forming products. Nir Eyal, the author, does a good job of differentiating between helpful and harmful habits as well as the moral responsibility for the creator’s products. He also presents a model for thinking through the creation of a habit-forming product.
I did have a few criticisms of the book. The examples used were predictable. For example, a section would start out about a tactic used in building habit-forming products and I would immediately think of a company who was doing that. A few paragraphs later, that company was used as the example. Maybe I’ve heard this book referenced in podcast episodes over the past few years, but I like when business books use the not-so-obvious examples. Also, this is petty, but I didn’t like the recaps at the end of each chapter. I like writing in my books and doing my own recaps. It helps me recall the chapter and go back and easily review books. Since this was done for me, I didn’t feel the need to take my usual notes. However, those notes really help me in understanding the book. Petty, I know, but it had the effect on me of dumbing down the book.
In all, this is a helpful book for technology companies but even more helpful if you are trying to tone down your technology addictions. It took me around 3-4 hours to read through completely (and I read relatively slowly). For that investment in time, this is a helpful book that I know will help me in my meetings with clients regarding their web presence.