Mach Investigates : The Top Ten Obsession

Everyone in CP armies is always eager for the Sunday of each week. Why is that, you may ask? Because Sunday is the day CPAC releases it’s famous weekly Top Ten. And since the dawn of CPAC, top tens have been released. First, top tens came out every month, but an army that got 40 for 3 weeks could die the day before the top ten was released, this being why it was shortened. But what is the psychological concept for the obsession of this Top Ten? Well…

Mach investigates.

Why exactly is everyone obsessed with the top ten? This goes down to the science of anticipation. Let me explain this:

When Wayne Gretzky was six years old, he tried out for a hockey team for 10-year-olds, and made the cut. Playing against kids twice his size, he struggled to keep up. That first year in the Brantford Atom League, he scored just a single goal. But by his fifth season in the league, when he was finally the same age as his peers, he scored 378 times—in 69 games. He would repeat the trick as a teenager, playing in a professional league against grown men; even when he made it to the NHL, his stature and physical tools were dwarfed by his opponents. Years later, the scrawny hockey star who’d become known as the Great One recalled the challenge that had defined his career. “I couldn’t beat people with my strength; I don’t have a hard shot; I’m not the quickest skater in the league. My eyes and my mind have to do most of the work.
“I had to be ahead of everybody else or I wouldn’t have survived.”
Gretzky is most often quoted repeating the advice his father gave him on the backyard rink: skate to where the puck is headed, not to where it’s been. It’s one of the best metaphors ever coined to describe the importance of anticipation. And it’s this mental ability, which let Gretzky stay two seconds ahead of everyone else on the ice, that inspired the new book by Vivek Ranadivé and Kevin Maney.
The Two-Second Advantage: How We Succeed by Anticipating the Future­—Just Enough(Crown Business) is an exploration of the science, present and future, of anticipation. If this sounds like Malcolm Gladwell’s 2005 bestseller Blink, fair enough; it covers a little bit of the same ground. But Maney and Ranadivé extend the concept well beyond the individual, looking at how business and society can build predictive systems, using the science of anticipation to get an edge. And where Gladwell drew criticism for being a dilettante, Ranadivé—the founder and CEO of real-time software company TIBCO—has been working in this field for some time, both in his day job and as an author (it’s his third book on the subject). In fact, Gladwell’s actually written about him.
The neuroscience of how we anticipate things will be at least partly familiar; the notion that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master something, for example, has passed into popular lore. As to what practice and talent actually look like in the brain, Ranadivé and Maney explain that experiences fire neurons, and encode information in them. Repeated firings in response to the same stimulus patterns wire neurons together. As those connections build up, information travels faster around the brain, and further pattern repetitions fuse sets of connected neurons into chunks, “that can access a whole collection of information instantly.”
Through more practice, we push deeper into this “chunking” process. New information gets added to the chunks resulting in, after time, “a complex, sophisticated mental model that assesses a situation in a flash, without having to access all the details stored deep in every memory.” It’s the science behind gut instinct, and it’s why Gretzky, after thousands of hours spent on his backyard rink and playing in competitive leagues with older boys, was able to anticipate where the play was going. He wasn’t able to do this because he outhought his opponents—he was able to do it because, his experience hard-wired into his brain, he was able to think less and just react.
The most interesting chapters of The Two-Second Advantage deal with attempts to take that human predictive ability and to blend it with real-time computing—as the authors have it, to design and build predictive systems that put “Gretzky’s brain in a box.”
In India, with its 550 million cellphone users and a dozen competing providers, “competition among the providers is intense, because any customer can switch at any time. A moment of dissatisfaction, and—boom—the customer is gone.”
The largest provider, Reliance, deals with millions of transactions a day, adds 150,000 customers per day, and loses tens of thousands more to the competition. With an overwhelming amount of data flooding into the organization each second, the company needed to find a way to identify and react to specific patterns—“like a certain number of dropped calls in a certain amount of time for a certain kind of customer”—that suggested a customer was about to bolt. There’s no time for deep analysis about whether a customer should be offered a discount at a certain time; the challenge is to employ new predictive technologies to push Reliance’s systems beyond the point where they’re “still relying on rules that had to be written by programmers,” to address specific situations.
The goal is a system that constantly watches the behaviour of its customers, makes predictions, and learns from its mistakes to refine its own processes. Even if it’s wrong 5% of the time, the speed with which it could react to the potential loss of a customer would compensate. Say the authors, “If a company has just a little bit of the right information a couple of seconds in advance, it’s more valuable than all the information in the world months after the fact.”
Not that the arrival of systems with more human decision-making processes means the obsolescence of the human brain. In fact, efforts underway to build an artificial brain may actually have the effect of advancing our own mental abilities. The latest science has already shown that it’s possible to reverse cognitive decline in the middle-aged brain, and it’s possible to rewire your brain as an adult through practice and “deliberate performance,” and learn new skills on the fly. Ranadivé and Maney are confident that as researchers working with the likes of Reliance push further into efforts to electronically emulate the brain, we’ll learn more about how that most mysterious of organs actually works. That means the ability to learn how better to develop our talents and capacities. Rather than becoming obsolete, “we humans can continue to be like Gretzky, staying two seconds ahead of the competition.”

What all of this means is that you have to wait for things, expect things, and imagine things. It’s all based on the human mental abilities which make us capable to understand and interact with what we perceive as the future. The Top Ten is an outlet. In the other form of anticipation, it generates an excitement throughout the CP army community. I will now be interviewing several army leaders about the “Top Ten Obsession”

Interview with UMA Leader Eyes521

Me : Hello Eyes

Eyes : Hello

Me : I would like to ask you a few questions about the CPAC Top tens. Do you feel people are obsessed with the concept of Top tens and making sure their army is on it?

Eyes : People are tedious over Top 10 spots, it’s like a controversy at it’s prime because nobody is ever happy at what spot their army is at, other than when it’s at 1st place, because every army so desperately hopes that they can get that number one spot.

Me : Would you say you yourself are obsessed with your army being in the Top ten?

Eyes : Not obsessed, that’s a little pretentious, but I do pride in being in the Top 10, even if I don’t get the spot I wanted in the first place I’d downplay it and work harder.

Me : Thank you for your time, any “shout-outs”?

Eyes : Lild’s mom

Interview with AR Leader Burritodaily

Me : Hello Burr

Burr : Hey

Me : I would like to ask you a few questions about the CPAC Top tens. Do you feel people are obsessed with the concept of Top tens and making sure their army is on it?

Burr : People basically use it as a way to judge their own army. They use it as a guideline as to where they are along with the rest of the armies. Some are obsessed, but some know it’s one person’s opinion.

Me : Would you say you yourself are obsessed with your army being in the Top ten?

Burr : I enjoy seeing my army in the top ten, and it’s nice seeing us represented well in the top ten, but I’m not really affected by a low score or anything.

Me : Thank you for your time, any “shout-outs”?


Interview with ACP Leader, Tori

Me : Hello Tori

Tori : Hi

Me : I would like to ask you a few questions about the CPAC Top tens. Do you feel people are obsessed with the concept of Top tens and making sure their army is on it?

Tori : Of course

Me : Would you say you yourself are obsessed with your army being in the Top ten?

Tori : I wouldn’t say that I’m obsessed with it, but I kinda use it in a way to see what we need to improve on, if we do need to.

Me : Thank you for your time, any “shout-outs”?

Tori : Nope & no problem

This concludes an edition of… wait a minute… Since we do this now, how do YOU feel about this?

Bluesockwa, why do you make me do this? Like seriously? Why do we need to capitalize the letters in the word “you”? 

^ Highlight that ^

v Vote on this v

This has been a post in the Mach Investigates series

29 Responses

  1. I call first, second, third, fourth, fifth, 1337th, and Sith Lord comment.


  2. Idgaf if YOU capitalize YOU or not, that’s just the way I do it.


  3. I would like to ask you a few questions about the CPAC Top tens. Do you feel people are obsessed with the concept of Top tens and making sure their army is on it?

    100% Yes, People see the top ten on how their army reflects and for some people being at the top is a priorty.

    Would you say you yourself are obsessed with your army being in the Top ten?

    Eh not really anymore I still am eager to see the new top ten on sundays, I used to be obsessed on making sure my army had a good spot unless I would rage in the comments.

    Thank you for your time, any “shout-outs”?

    This interview went faster than a knife fight in a phonebooth.


  4. Regarding the Top Ten, people may think they aren’t obsessed, but when it comes out, most armies rage about their spot in the Top Ten. For example, the Nachos and the Rebel Penguin Federation. These 2 armies rage every week over the 1st spot or the 2nd spot, so everyone is obsessed with it, except for the person that made the Top Ten.


  5. So many interviews.


  6. I don’t obsess over the Top 10, I usually check it during the early part of the following week so I stay up to speed on which armies are most relevant in the community at the time.


  7. Oh eyes, my mom says thanks.




  9. Me : Thank you for your time, any “shout-outs”?


  10. wow ur interviews is bias






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