American Airline: Chapter 11 Restructuring?

Two days ago, I tried to change my American Airline ticket to an earlier day. The agent won't change it for anything less than $650.

I tried to explain to her that the new flight is flying in a few hours, the seat is a perishable good that she is unlikely to find any taker in the meantime, any new money I give her is pure profit for them (free money with almost no incremental cost to AA), and they get to relinquish my original seat with a lot more time to re-sell it to someone else.

She asked me if I see other flights from another airline. I told her that Delta is offering me another flight for $450 and they will have to at least match this price to make any sense for me to switch. I can even overpay a bit because I have a partial refund from the original ticket.

She said - "But we already have your money". I thought I mis-heard her because I feel a bit being held as hostage. But she said it twice!! Basically, she told me to pound sand. Anyhow, I bought from Delta in the end.

Today, I got an email from AA about their Chapter 11 with a nice video from their Chairman.

It's true that AA already has my money, but they could've had my money twice AND re-sell my original seat once more to someone else. I talked to another agent later and turns out that the agents don't get any commissions from making a sale. No wonder why they weren't more aggressive to earn my business and the attitude seems a bit "arrogant".

Extraordinary Individuals from Business Schools: INSEAD, Harvard, and Stanford

I had dinner with the President of INSEAD North America few nights ago and I learned that the North America alumni forum is coming up. The forum list reads like a group of really accomplished and well known people.

This got me wondering. How many alumni from business schools will actually make it big? Who will be truly world famous?

Unlike many business school ranking on career satisfaction survey or international metrics, this has a bit of raw, cut to the core, kind of feeling to it. Fashionable MBA ranking metric changes every year (to sell more papers???). This metric tends to be more stable overtime. Having said that, this doesn't measure the ROI of a particular MBA program or the responsiveness of the alumni network. If you're interested in which school you should apply to, you can read more from my classmate here.

Rather, my goal here is very simple - which business school is graduating extraordinary individuals - ignoring whether the school is really nurturing them or just simply good at picking them among the applicants.

To find graduates who have made it I ran a search on how many executives with profiles on Forbes and Businessweek with mentions of each institution. I only ran this for INSEAD, Harvard, and Stanford. I was going to do Wharton, Kellogg, and IMD too, but these schools have names that are a bit harder to filter out (e.g. Wharton has a huge undergraduate program). Feel free to add these in the comment section.

This is the raw data:

You can use this method to do it for your favorite school with these keyword combinations - e.g INSEADHarvard, or Stanford with their many strange name combinations (is this an intentional branding strategy...?)

Note that this method includes everyone with references to the school (e.g. who worked for the school or graduates with EMBA, PhDs, etc...). I also included the # of alumni and the size of the class in case you want to figure out the "efficiency" of a school at churning out extraordinary people. MBA/year is taken as of 2010. For INSEAD, this has increased gradually over time from ~50 MBAs/year five decades ago to 980 MBAs/year today. What I really want is number of living alumni who are between 40-65 years old, but I don't know how to get that.

If anyone knows a cleaner data source, a more global data source, or a more comprehensive data source (e.g. includes politics) feel free to leave me a comment :-)

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson - Using Machine Learning to extract topics from a 650 page book.

[This post is continuously updated since I just bought it last night from feedbooks...]

The goal is to allow me to get a quick overview of this 650 page book and figure out where to read (since I know the Steve Jobs story pretty well and I'm more interested in some of the key short stories that I didn't know already).

This is the first try. Haven't used any external data. Didn't model the correlation among topics and changes over time. Software ran for about 1M iterations.

Me: @kinwong
Design Advisor: @inasee
Technical Advisor: @seannyg

0  pixar disney katzenberg
1  baez young egan
2  gass share unix
3  raskin project jef
4  lasseter smith software
5  blue box dylan
6  brother levy hawaii
7  ipod fadell music
8  intensity drop vegetarian
9  perspective objects emotionally
10  einstein heroes ceo
11  music itunes ipod
12  board ceo financial
13  apple company product
14  phone touch glass
15  devices cloud hub
16  sculley macintosh division
17  paul education electronic
18  gates microsoft windows
19  disk frogdesign susan
20  atari alcorn bushnell
21  dylan bono ipod
22  truth campbell levitt
23  markkula ii mike
24  flew release rights
25  costs struck casual
26  macintosh ibm ad
27  coleman players stand
28  macintosh hertzfeld mac
29  reed father erin
30  options stock price
31  kottke friedland zen
32  hewlett book packard
33  sculley pepsi marketing
34  express interfaces intensity
35  suit perfection leaving
36  powell cancer health
37  iger eisner deal
38  intel sec grant
39  wozniak woz personal
40  father school electronics
41  college lsd campus
42  romantic attention condition
43  laser mr ideas
44  ipad digital apps
45  ad commercial ads
46  imac drive tray
47  computer computers show
48  google iphone android
49  murdoch books dinner
50  parents joanne paul
51  amelio woolard ellison
52  lawsuit smartphones steel
53  filter trait maintain
54  eason information hormone
55  powell laurene smith
56  mountain boy pot
57  lisa father simpson
58  jobs steve time
59  raise childhood assistant
60  wayne hp keyboard
61  perot rand lewin
62  stores store johnson
63  rounded fonts bauhaus
64  hurt carrot fasts
65  cancer cook rubinstein
66  people make made
67  debi paris france
68  house found family
69  software products system
70  crowd feet thrown
71  reality distortion field
72  design products simplicity
73  lisa sony drive
74  palo alto wife
75  metal semiconductor feet
76  cook airplane players
77  xerox atkinson parc
78  ive product jony
79  brennan relationship calhoun
80  clow crazy licensing
81  public ipo shares
82  audience onstage appeared

Digital Media 101 for Writers - What you can do in the next 60 minutes

(I wrote this post for my author friends)

Why you should care?
  • Your online presence is a long-term asset that stays with you even when you move across jobs, projects, companies, and books. It accumulates over time.
  • Building a passionate community allows you guarantee sales of your book, build up future pre-orders, and have the opportunity to mobilize your community for meaningful purpose. (I'm also writing a post with examples of authors who are leveraging their community for the greater good)
What you can do in the next 60 minutes:
  • Sign up for a blogging service - Tumblr (recommended) or WordPress (advanced)
    • This becomes your permanent space online. Make sure that people can subscribe to your blog via RSS and comment on it.
    • (Optional) Get a domain name with your name (e.g.
    • (Optional) Integrate it with disqus commenting system. See the posts on my blog as an example.
  • Signup for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
    • (Optional) Use Tweetdeck or Seesmic to follow your friends.
    • Post interesting short content on twitter/facebook/linkedin “updates”. Occasionally post updates to link back to your blog to buildup your “space”.
  • Subscribe to popular blogs/sites in your topic with a rss news reader.
  • Write posts that are designed to be shared and link generously to other bloggers so hopefully that they would link you back.

Seth Godin's Domino Project

What is the future of books? It's a big question with big and bigger conferences and I plan to talk more about it in future posts. But this one is about Seth Godin's Domino ProjectSeth Godin said that he has given up on publishing, but looks like he is becoming a publisher himself with the Domino?

My understanding is that he is trying to get folks who already have a small audience, help them self-publish books that are shorter, and then allow small scale, personal gifting to tap into word of mouth to grow it into a big audience.

Would it work? Can we find the right balance for a book that is short enough that a lot of people would read it and long enough that people would want to pay for it? This could all be speculative because I've never met Seth Godin and don't have any private information about the Domino Project.

It isn't the first time folks try to create shorter content (the Economist sells a bunch and TED is trying to do the same with TEDBooks). What's new here is that in the ebooks world, the incremental cost of "printing" a book is essentially zero and we can let readers gift additional copies cheaply, as long as the "gifter" doesn't gift it to people who would've bought the book in the first place (i.e. you don't want to eat into your own sales). I suppose that's where the concept of tribes comes in. We need a way to differentiate the original book from the one you get as a gift. e.g. a special, collectible edition of the book for true fan and basic electronic version that you can give out for free or at a discount. It's not a leap of faith. Musicians have experience doing this already. The Grateful Death lets tapers share personal (i.e. low quality) concert recordings and so does Lady Gaga.

My minor disagreement is that I think the future is bright for traditional publishers too. If Seth's venture does well, traditional publishers can figure out which "short" book takes off and help the author expand those into a full book.

MobNotate - Very Early Alpha Version

The last two weeks I had some time to push out an early alpha of mobnotate. You can find it at Basically, you email us any html webpage at and we will reply you with a link to your document/ebook hosted for free with added features such as reader annotation capability and integration with Facebook (e.g. any contribution by anyone will get broadcast to their wall if they're logged in).

This is a very very small part of what I want to accomplish with ebooks (which is a much bigger vision and involves more with mobile phones and tablets). The goal of this web version is to find out if we can use social media to help authors enrich content and increase the engagement from the readers. My success metric is to help writers (that's you!!) to get 10X more readers or 10X more engagement :-)

Current feature list (suggestions appreciated!!)
  • Email a html webpage attachment to and we will reply with a link. That means you can use any offline editor you want and just export it to html before emailing us.
  • Click in the doc anywhere to contribute content. Paste a link to an image or youtube video in the comment box to automatically embed multimedia.
  • If a user is connected to Facebook, any comment he/she makes will show up in their Facebook wall so that your book/document would get some viral marketing benefit. This also makes your content more social and personal.
  • A "Top contributors" ranking on the right to encourage participation from your readers.
Some sample documents,
  1. Art of War - Sun Tzu
  2. Alice in the Wonderland
  3. FCIC Report (fresh off the press!!):
If you're a reader, try reading some of the ebooks above and help enrich the content. Or if you have original content yourself (either you wrote or is in the public domain), email it to as an attachment and share the reply link with your readers to jumpstart the community. Feel free to email me anytime if you have any suggestions and ideas. By the way, if you have content that you expect to get a lot of readers let me know so I could try to prepare for it first :-)
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