The Simon Hackett Law of Productivity

Simon Hackett is the Managing Director of my Internet Service Provider of choice, Internode.  Simon is also a long-time member of, and a (very, very) regular participant on my favourite Internet site, the Australian broadband and technology-related discussion forum Whirlpool.  I think it’s great that a company owner and boss makes himself so open and accessible to his customers.  Simon’s Whirlpool posting is also interesting from a statistical point of view.  Based on a recent observation, a totally hare-brained theory, and the liberal application of gonzo statistics, I’m going to formulate what I’ll dub “The Simon Hackett Law of Productivity”

As Simon Hackett’s Whirlpool posting frequency approaches zero, the probability of Internode launching an amazing product or service approaches one.

Yes, you asked for it.  Here comes the science.

The Poisson distribution, named after its discoverer Siméon-Denis Poisson, is a statistical model.  It is used to describe the probability of a number of random, independent events occurring over a fixed period of time, and is a useful tool in queuing theory (where the “events” are arrivals onto the system).  You could argue that posts made to an online discussion forum follow a Poisson distribution, for example.

So let’s say the probability with which a Whirlpool member posts to the discussion forums is random and independent, and follows the Poisson distribution with a mean of λ=post rate.  Up until the 60 days prior to 9 December 2008 (when I came up with this crazy theory), Simon Hackett’s λ was 9.6 posts per day (ppd).

But then something remarkable happened.

From 10 October Simon’s λ crashed from 9.6 ppd to a meagre 5.7 ppd.  From the Poisson probability mass function, the chances of this happening is just 4.5%. Significant at the α=0.05 level.  Perhaps something other than just random variation was afoot.  Early on in Statistics I they warn you not to confuse correlation with causation, but by sheer “coincidence” at the moment Simon’s Whirlpool posting took a nose dive, Internode’s output of cool stuff its customers love to use sky-rocketed. Here’s a list of the headlines covering the 60 days that Simon dropped his lambda:

  • Major Product Updates for ADSL and NodePhone
  • Yorke Peninsula caravan parks get free WiFi access
  • Powers ahead with 100% green energy
  • Tops customer success poll: Roy Morgan
  • Signs new deal with Telstra Wholesale
  • Opens new Sydney office
  • Elbows aside rivals with new Ultra service
  • Launches Chumby in Australia
  • Offers customers free ADSL setup
  • Extreme, NakedExtreme and SOHO ADSL updates
  • Home ADSL2+ sales resume in Tasmania
  • Royal Navy veteran appointed as first CIO
  • Chumby contest to boost Aussie content
  • Internode sponsors telecoms thinkfest
  • Launches unmetered ABC iView

source: http://www.internode.on.net/news/

When you look at the average news and media releases per month, the period October to December has been an unprecedented Poissonian burst of quite groovy announcements.

So could it just be happenstance?  Well… yes.  But that would not make for a very interesting blog entry!  So consider if I’m right.  When Simon logs off Whirlpool, Internode get to work.  Keep an eye on Simon’s activity on Whirlpool.  If his participation rate drops below 6 ppd for a period of time then something awesome out of the Internode labs is on the way.

Or perhaps he’s just on the loo.

poisson-burst

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One Response

  1. Nice work (again)Stanley 🙂

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