Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th edition

It’s with great pleasure and a little pride that we announce Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat “4th EDITION” part is important. We know lots of people are waiting for Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation and it’s next in the queue.

But until then…

Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION is about 100 pages longer than the previous editions and about 10$US cheaper. Why? Because Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation is next in the queue.

Some Notes About This Book

I’m actually writing Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation right now. In the process of doing that, we realized we needed to add an index to this book. We also wanted to make a full color ebook version available to NextStage Members (it’s a download on the Member welcome page. And if you’re not already a member, what are you waiting for?)

In the process of making a full color version, we realized we’d misplaced some of the original slides and, of course, the charting software had changed since we originally published this volume (same information, different charting system). Also Susan and Jennifer “The Editress” Day wanted the images standardized as much as possible.

We included an Appendix B – Proofs (starting on page 187) for the curious and updated Appendix C – Further Readings (starting on page 236). We migrated a blog used for reference purposes so there may be more or less reference sources and modified some sections with more recent information.

So this edition has a few more pages and a few different pages. It may have an extra quote or two floating around.

You also need to know that Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History is a “Let’s explore the possibilities” book, not a “How to do it” book. As such, it deals with how NextStage did it (not to mention things that happened along the way). It does not explain how you can do it. This book’s purpose is to open a new territory to you and give you some basic tools for exploration.

There are no magic bullets, quick fixes, simple demonstrations, et cetera, that will turn you into jedis, gurus, kings, queens, samurai, rock stars, mavens, heroes, thought leaders, so on and so forth.

How to Do It starts with Volume II: Experience and Expectation and continues through future volumes in this series. We’ve included a Volume II: Experience and Expectation preview with a How to Do It example on page 302 so you can take a peek if that’s your interest.

That noted, I’m quite sure that you won’t get the full benefit of future volumes without reading this one because unless you’ve read this one you won’t understand the territory you’re exploring in those future volumes.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat’s Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION. It’s so good and so good for you! Buy a copy or two today!


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The Complete “TS Eliot, Ezekiel, Beehives and Mighty Mouse – Why ‘Whispering to Be Heard’?” Arc

Note: More historical posts in prep for Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th edition. Here is the complete “TS Eliot, Ezekiel, Beehives and Mighty Mouse – Why ‘Whispering to Be Heard’?” arc for your enjoyment

TS Eliot, Ezekiel, Beehives and Mighty Mouse – Why “Whispering to Be Heard”?

I wrote in SNCR NewComm Forum Day 2 – TS Eliot, Ezekiel, Beehives and Mighty Mouse that I would share how that presentation went and explain how TS Eliot, Ezekiel, Beehives and Mighty Mouse are linked, and I don’t mean through LinkedIn.

Can you say “blog arc”?

The title of the presentation was “Whispering to Be Heard: The Art and Science of Buzz Marketing”. I had some wonderful comments about this presentation, lots of good thoughts and feedback, so I’m sharing it here in several posts.

We’re going to discuss

  • TS Eliot,
  • Ezekiel discovering that the limit of his knowledge isn’t the limit of what is knowable,
  • How to have fun with beehives and the people inside them
  • and Mighty Mouse

And of course, all of this will have that distinctive, irrepressible NextStage flair…

But first, “Why ‘Whispering to Be Heard’?”

If you really want to be heard then you need to whisper because if you talk softly then some very specific things happen:

  • the only ones paying attention will be those truly interested
  • and they will show their interest
  • and tell others of their interest.
  • Also, you also immediately create a sense of intimacy, urgency and community (very important in buzz marketing and social media in general).

You just need to be sure you reward their interest with good quality and experience.

Next, TS Eliot does Information Mechanics!

TS Eliot, Ezekiel, Beehives and Mighty Mouse – TS Eliot does Information Mechanics

TS Eliot wrote

Where is the Wisdom we have lost in Knowledge? Where is the Knowledge we have lost in Information?

In 1997 I wrote a paper, “Semantic Information Mechanics”.

How many of you ever heard of it? I’m guessing the reason few of you heard of it, let alone read it, was because it was filled with stuff like this.

(You could imagine the tweets that go around about that slide)

Lose that Wisdom-Knowledge-Information thing, did ya?

I wrote something a little more accessible, Yes, You Can Predict Viral Marketing, in 2006. It listed the basic elements you need to know before you start a viral or WOM campaign in order to insure success:

  • How many individuals does the campaign need to start with (seed)?
  • How fast will the campaign spread (propagation factor)?
  • How will the campaign spread (vectors)?
  • How large a group is required to sustain the propagation (viral burden)?
  • What is the campaign’s goal (maintenance factor)?
  • How large a group is required to sustain the campaign once the goal is achieved (threshold point)?
  • At what point is the campaign too successful (saturation point)?

We followed that up a year later with some other research that we published in 3 Rules for Creating Buzz:

  • Do you want a mobile or static audience to get a message out quickly? (You’ll need to read the article to understand why this is a trick question)
  • Start with a general message
  • Change the message every X hours or Y miles

I should probably let you know that we’re always doing research, we’re always updating our research. And because our technology is based on very long and in depth studies of how humans think and respond to what’s going on around them, and because it’s both an adaptive and learning intelligence, it will often see trends well in advance of what we can see.

People follow less and less online conversations as they grow older until about age 55

What it discovered this time was that people, especially people over the age of 28, are self-regulating the amount of information they interact with in a day. Two direct comments we recorded during this research included “I don’t have time to follow 20 blogs” and “I don’t have time to be on half a dozen social networks”.

What we learned was that blogs and related information sources people thought relevant, important to their lives declines with age. This is true with blogs, newsletters, places to shop.

What did increase?

We discovered that people 28yo+ will often put an information governor on their intake, often trusting as little as 2 information sources. They may give time to others but they’re only able to redact to 2-5.

Thus TS Eliot, in stating that we’ve lost wisdom via knowledge via information, was ahead of his time. I’m pretty sure semantic information mechanics — which this is — wasn’t known of, at least not a formal discipline, in his time.

Next up, Ezekiel hits his wall.

TS Eliot, Ezekiel, Beehives and Mighty Mouse – Ezekiel Hits His Wall

So we learn from TS Eliot that the limit of our Knowledge isn’t the limit of our Information. Yet people continue to seek out new information sources while simultaneously throttling down the number of information sources they’ll give their time and attention to.

Like the pilgrim who discovers there’s more information beyond what he knew existed, we begin to wonder (at least you begin to wonder these things if you work at NextStage) “What are we searching for?”

It turns out there’s a limit, a ceiling if you will, to the amount of information people are able to respond to at any given point in time. This is based on the brain’s design more than anything else.

You don’t throw out 10 million years of evolutionary adaptation because your species has been sitting in front of computers for the past ten years.

The answer to this has to do with an understanding of how language influences belief. Some call this the “Information” Age. Is that because there’s more information in our environment than there ever was before or because the method of information interaction has changed from sought to delivered?

We use to seek information because it meant our survival. We needed to know if there were predators out there, be they dangerous animals or thieves and the brain-mind still has that wiring. It isn’t about to give it up, it simply puts it to different use.

And like our ancestors who learned to pay attention to only certain movements in the grass and certain shadows in the darkness we’re learning to pay attention to only certain sources of information.

So what are the three primary things we are searching for in our information sources?

What Are We Searching For?

  • Truth – I don’t have to agree, I have to believe
  • Meaning – Explain it so I can understand it
  • Wisdom – I won’t have to work as hard to survive

We’re looking for the ceiling, the arrow, the direction, the truth. We know we may not like it, and we want to know it anyway.

There’s so much information out there we want to know that someone can be trusted, to be our friend and guide even when we don’t like what they share.

In short, we’re looking for our shamans, our priest-kings, our heroes and guides. Those of you who are familiar with my background, training and education may appreciate how amusing this was when we discovered it.

Then what?

The Moody Blues' On the Threshold of a Dream

Once someone has gotten me to the edge of information I need to have it explained to me. Like The Moody Blues‘ “In the Beginning”, “I’m more than that, I know that I am”, and as Frankl and Maslow wrote and as every cognitive scientist and psycholinguist is discovering, humans will search for meaning until they find it. They will apply meaning from their own experience if no other meaning is supplied to them.

And what do we realize about lifting the veil from our own eyes?

That all our information and all our knowledge may not be meet for the challenges ahead. We seek the wisdom to apply the information, the wisdom to understand the meaning.

And this brings us right back to TS Eliot’s

Where is the Wisdom we have lost in Knowledge? Where is the Knowledge we have lost in Information?

Next up, Beehive the icebox, there’s a sheet of glass.

TS Eliot, Ezekiel, Beehives and Mighty Mouse – Beehive the Icebox, There’s a Sheet of Glass

How is social media “social” when the majority of people aren’t participating? Is it “ego media” if people only watch? Is it performance art?

Most people spend their lives seeking identity and they surround themselves with things that reinforce what they believe their identity to be. They do it via clubs, personal branding, any number of things. Their own sense of identity, of who and what they are, is influenced by and influences everything they do. This is the “If I am a thief then you must steal” syndrome so popular in 12-step communities.

Put differently, Sally Field’s character in Soapdish will always go to the Mall with Whoopi Goldberg’s character so that Whoopi can get the crowd to “notice” Sally Field.

People who were at my Boston SNCR Awards Gala presentation know this as Holmeses and Watsons.

We all want to know we’re part of the group, we just want to be sure everybody in the group knows who we are. No matter who we are and what our individual histories are, there is this amazing dualism in our neural coding that — much like flight or fight — keeps us moving between anonymity and recognition. The prey creature in us wants to be unseen and unknown while the predator in us wants to be recognized and identified. So while we’ll be a part of this:

What we really seek and strive for is to be part of something like this because being either predator or prey is hard work. Doesn’t matter if you’re in a large crowd and are anonymous or in a small society and well known. The only safety and solace is to be part of a community, a semi-small circle of friends (about 60-75 is tops) where the balance between anonymity and recognition can be easily managed and maintained.

Prediction #1

I think vendors in the blog awareness world might call this “You’re known by the comments you keep”.

What we’ve learned and what I’ll share is that buzz marketing, word of mouth marketing, viral marketing, whatever you want to call it, will evolve to a very sophisticated “smart mob” environment, a “Hive” mind mentality.

How many people have actually tracked their buzz efforts? How many have actually observed and monitored how rapidly and how far their buzz travels, through whom, how fast, who’re the best carriers, …?

These little charts that look like petri dish cultures gone mad? These are actual charts of the spread of a viral message, each little drop signifies a cluster of 100 people “infected” with a message and spreading it on. There’s a reason it’s called “viral”, you know.

One thing these little charts are showing that is obvious only when you know what to look at is the fact that the message literally spread in one direction only; the direction of “infection” parallels the travel paths of those infected.

The clustering of the “infection” is also dependent on where the most highly infected (ie, the ones most likely to pass your message on) spend the majority of their day. NextStage has someone very knowledgeable in virology on its team and all of this information was anticipated then proven in various trials. Why other groups doing viral marketing aren’t employing these types of people I don’t know.

Spreading Your Message

You want the message to spread and there are two basic ways to do it with hive mentalities. First, you can have everyone come to your site. The benefit is that you control the message. The detriment is that there will be limits on how many people participate, how long your message stays in public awareness and how far your message can travel.

This is where the pilgrim’s wall meets the beehive.

Trust, Meaning and Wisdom are lost if you fail to provide guidance beyond the wall, yet every member of a functioning beehive — or any functioning society for that matter — knows their role in that society. Trust, Meaning and Wisdom exist and the hive functions as a whole. It simply doesn’t let any bees out of the hive and eventually dies for any number of reasons.

Or you can simply put your message out there. This is the bee coming back to the hive and dancing their little tookas off because its discovered your message about an incredibly rich field of flowers. All the bees go, lots of pollenation, lots of honey, new hives form, some go on to greatness and some just go on to other great things.

Totally different dynamics, completely different parameters same amount of risk for completely different reasons. However, you’ll never lose trust, meaning or wisdom because you’re not in control of it to begin with and you can’t lose what you’ve never had. The bees are taking the risk with the flowers.

But the big payoff is that you’ll also learn from your audience. Your offering matures as does your audience to the point where you need each other. Very good. Symbiosis, you have to love it.

This symbiotic relationship is SmartMob behavior at its best. Our current thinking is that SmartMob methods will become the most effective marketing because it is an immediate, highly specific, highly targeted and quickly rewarded call to action.

This is extremely important because people are searching for help understanding all the information in their environment. And few things will get their attention better than a reward right now for something they did right now, something directed at them, something specific they can get done and something they can do without a lot of planning.

Next up, Mighty Mouse.

TS Eliot, Ezekiel, Beehives and Mighty Mouse – Mighty Mouse

The new goal of advertising and marketing will be helping consumers brand themselves.

Anybody want to hear about the big computer company that turned bloggers around one more time? (everybody was citing Dell in their presentations)

Herding cats is possible. There’s lots of case studies and the methodology is well documented and easily understandable.

Anybody guess how to do it?

What’s the best way to herd cats? Get a very well trained mouse.

Summary

  • People seek meaning in their lives and one of the ways they get that meaning is by self-branding, creating an identity for themselves based on what they have around them.
  • Lee Iacocca said “People want economy and they’ll pay any price to get it.” I offer “People want simplicity and they’ll pay any price to get it.”
  • You can start a conversation and you must be prepared for the consequences.
  • But always always always it’s easier to control a conversation you start than one you enter.

And finally,

Invest in Mice.

Links for this post:


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The Complete “Visitors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information” Arc

Note: Another relatively short, three post arc, here in full. You may thank us later. PS) The ET aspect described in this arc is now in NextStage’s Veritas Gauge. PPS) We thought it was short. We didn’t notice all the files at first. This arc is really nine posts long. Typical of J…

Visitors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 1

I mentioned in Stephane Hamel, WASP creator, goes Freelance that I was taking a break from NextStage for a few years to pursue other things.

Of course, one never wonders far from what one loves, in the heart and mind if not with the feet.

Case in point, we’ve known for a while that NextStage’s Evolution Technology (ET) can determine if visitors to websites are behaving…umm…fairly(??) when they fill out forms, et cetera. We didn’t know how it could do it, only that it was in there somewhere.

Well, never give Joseph some spare time, he’ll find a way to fill it. Back on 18 Sept 07 some fellow KMMers emailed me Social networking sites: Almost two thirds of users enter false information to protect identity. This article starts with “London, UK – 18 September 2007 – Nearly two thirds (62%) of networking sites users say they are worried about the safety of their personal data held on these sites, reveals a survey conducted by email research specialists, emedia, using its RapidResearch service. The concern is so high that almost one third of users (31%) have already entered false information about themselves to protect their identity.”

This isn’t news to me or NextStage. One of the first things we told clients way back when was that — in general!!! — people will fabricate information on the web more often than they won’t because the social and cultural cues prohibiting “lying” aren’t available to them.

This same topic reared its head again during the recent XChange conference when we were discussing people in person versus online giving information necessary to receive information. I suggested that people will be more honest when providing health and investment information than, say, vacation information. There’s a higher psychological price (again, in general) assigned to health and investments than to vacations.

Anyway, I had a few days to spend analyzing the problem and finally figured out the math necessary to map online behaviors to which parts of the brain were active when information was being provided online. The rest of this post covers a seven day cycle, 27 Sept – 4 Oct 07, for several industries that NextStage monitors.

In all these images green indicates the number of visitors who respond truthfully to questionnaires, in chat sessions, etc., yellow indicates people who mix truth with non-truth and red indicates people who just make things up. Even when there’s nothing to fill out or form to fill in, these values indicate which parts of the brain are firing most actively. The question probably then becomes, “If there’s nothing to fill in, how can people be telling the truth or making things up?”

Deceitful behavior is both a boundary and defense mechanism. Think of a cat poofing its tale, a dog bristling it’s back, things like that. These mechanisms engage to make the animal appear larger than it is. It is, in a sense, being deceitful, making itself appear larger than it is, to protect itself or its territory. Thus, when there are no forms to fill out, et cetera, and ET is picking up fabricational behavior it is an indication site visitors are uncomfortable with the website they’re navigating. Similarly, truthful behavior is an indication visitors are comfortable with the website they’re navigating.

Let’s start with B2B sites shown above. Practically 2/3s of the people on all B2B sites NextStage monitors are comfortable enough with the site they’re navigating to fill out forms honestly and accurately. Probably a good thing in they’re making business purchases. It wouldn’t be good to order a skiploader one couldn’t pay for or maintain properly.

Visitors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 2

This is the second installment of Visitors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information. Interestingly enough, some of what this arc touches on was part of a conversation Paul Legutko, Semphonic’s VP Analytics, and Judah Phillips, Reed Business Interactive’s Director of Web Analytics, had last week at Bentley College’s Usability Labs with some graduate researchers. Many thanks to Paul and Judah for taking part in that discussion. I’ll be sharing the outcome of that discussion here once the results and finalized and made available to me.

This arc deals with Evolution Technology‘s (ET) ability to determine if visitors to websites are behaving…umm…fairly(??) when they fill out forms, et cetera. Some readers know I’m taking a sabbatical from NextStage and that means I get a chance to finish some projects that have been hanging over my head for months if not years now. One such project was the mathematics of truthtelling versus fabricating and how those two neural patterns are demonstrated when someone interacts with a website.

The rest of this post covers a seven day cycle, 27 Sept – 4 Oct 07, for several industries that NextStage monitors. The above provided a report for a general B2B sampling of sites NextStage monitors for clients. This post deals with B2C sites.

truth%20B2C%20070927-071004-350.jpg

Compare the above image with its B2B cousin in the previous section and you’ll notice that more consumers tell the truth (green) or recognizable portions of it (yellow) than do businesspeople when navigating websites. I’m a little surprised by this finding and with a little thought it makes sense to me.

These charts determine truth v fabrication by determining how much territoriality and defense mechanisms become active in a visitor’s neural landscape when they navigate a website. Consumers — at least the vast majority of them in today’s eWorld — no longer fear that websites will steal their soul, hence the defense mechanisms and territoriality that are indications of truth v fabrication don’t become active. This ties well into something I mention in Reading Virtual Minds, that people are becoming more and more comfortable identifying with a projected online persona (doesn’t matter if that persona shows up in Second Life or in a “junk” email address). This ability to be comfortable with a projected persona won’t show up as a fabrication because the individual navigating a site or filling in information won’t differentiate between their real versus cyber self.

Blog Visitors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 3

This section deals with blogs.

how truthful are people when they're reading and commenting on blogs?

The majority of blogs NextStage is monitoring are social in nature, not business or informational and Wow. Who knew the majority of people involved in social blogging were…umm…so good at…uhh…had such strong imaginations? Compare this image with its B2B and B2C cousins above and you’ll notice that consumers — both business and general — tell the truth (green) or recognizable portions of it (yellow) than do bloggers. This finding doesn’t surprise me at all in light of what I wrote in the first section of this post and the findings in Social networking sites: Almost two thirds of users enter false information to protect identity. I guess that shows up on social blogs as well.

General Visitors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 4

How many visitors are being honest on sites in general?Better than half the visitors to sites (in general) are providing honest and truthful information online and feel comfortable interacting with the site their navigating. This is shown by the large green chunk of the pie chart on the above.

It’s always interesting to me to see how truth and honesty demonstrate themselves across a variety of verticals and industries. We learned that B2B visitors are more honest online (in general) than B2C visitors. Social Bloggers, we learned, tend to be less honest and truthful when adding comments.

Online Insurance Vendors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 5

truth%20Insurance%20070927-071004-350.jpg

Just over two-thirds of the visitors to online insurance providers are providing honest and truthful information online and feel comfortable interacting with the site they’re navigating. This is shown by the large green chunk of the pie chart above.

Online Medical and Pharma, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 6

truth%20medical%20research%20070927-071004-350.jpg

This chart shows that an equal number of people are either telling the truth and fabricating OR an equal number of people are comfortable and uncomfortable when navigating online medical and pharma sites.

It’s in situations such as this that a little postulating can be useful. What follows is an opinion.

I find it doubtful that people navigating a site that may help them cure a disease or understand what’s happening to either themselves or a loved one would fabricate information. Doing so only means they won’t get useful information and if getting information is what they came for, the more useful the information they receive the better they off they are, therefore fabricating and getting less useful information defeats the purpose of coming to the site.

Therefore (and without looking at other NextStage reports that would help make this determination with more precision) I’m going to assume (ASSUME) that visitors navigating these sites are uncomfortable, either physically or psychologically. Physically because and unfortunately they may be dealing with an illness. Psychologically because dealing with their own or a loved one’s illness takes a toll psychologically.

Online Vacation Sites, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 7

This section deals with visitor interaction with vacation sites. The vacation sites in our system tend to be high end type vacations (luxury hotels offering safari style expeditions in Kenya, for example) and that’s going to play into my end analysis of what we learned with this tool.

People tend to exagerate when planning for vacations

One of the first things I noticed about these results is that there kind of a polarity mirror of what we saw in Online Medical and Pharma, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 6. Basically more people are exaggerating or outright falsifying information on these sites.

It’s worth noting at this point that these charts and the equations behind them aren’t simply “Truth v Fiction” because the parts of the brain-mind system that register truth and fiction are also the parts that determine if we feel comfortable or uncomfortable in a given situation. I went with a “comfortable v uncomfortable” analysis of online medical and pharma sites because that interpretation made more sense in conjunction with other data we had gathered on those sites. Here, in high-end vacation sites, a “truth v fabrication” analysis makes more sense.

What we told the clients (the numbers varied across the sites so I’m being general here) is that lots of visitors might not be able to take part in their vacations and probably know this viewing the sites. However, these sites, their intense graphics, fluid narratives, videos of people taking part in arctic expeditions, hiking over glaciers, trekking in the Andes, whitewatering in who knows where, allow many visitors to dream and while I won’t debate whether or not dreams are truth or fiction, I will offer that dreams are wonderful ways to escape and seeing yourself in a given situation is necessary when deciding if an extreme vacation is for you.

In other words, people fabricating, imagining, dreaming, is probably a good thing on these kinds of sites. Fortunately and as mentioned before, it’s possible (with other NextStage tools) to zero-in a bit more and know if visitors are purely fabricating or merely allowing their imaginations to run wild.

Wiki Contributors, Truth, False Information and Personal Information, Part 8

This section deals with contributors to wikis. The wikis monitored in our system are mostly internal and corporate, in many cases the companies asking NextStage to monitor their inhouse wikis are exploring the use of wikis along with other new media methods of B2E interactions.

Do wiki contributors really know what they're writing about

I think an appropriate subtitle — at least something businesses wanted to know — is whether or not wiki contributors really knew what they were writing about when entering information into a corporate wiki.

I need to clarify at this point that NextStage’s tools don’t know if someone is telling objective truth or not. Our tools can only identify if the person entering the information believes the information is true or not. This is subjective truth. In other words, this tool can determine is someone is intentionally fabricating information. This is a similar problem that criminal investigators and forensics experts deal with routinely; the witness believes what they’re redacting is accurate even if there’s massive contrary information available.

Subjective truth is a valuable tool in a lot of instances. For example, one of the greatest problems facing lots of industries today has to do with whether or not their knowledge-base will be maintained as workers retire, move on, etc. This concern is one reason many corporations are studying wikis as tools for collecting, categorizing and distributing knowledge before it walks out the door and is lost forever.

This NextStage tool allows wiki monitors to note that a given individual strongly believes the information they’re providing is accurate and actionable (a good combination in most instances).

All that offered, this chart indicates that across all wiki sites NextStage is monitoring contributors believe they are either telling the complete truth with their entries or are unsure. Nobody is fabricating information (also a very good thing to know when dealing with a corporate knowledge-base).

Truth, False Information and Personal Information Finale

I thought it might be useful to close out this arc with a review of NextStage’s findings across several verticals. Let’s start back with visitors to B2B sites. Across all general B2B sites in the NextStage system visitors are more truthful when entering information into the site and comfortable navigating the site than not.

Next up is visitors to B2C sites. As above, across all general B2C sites in the NextStage system visitors are not only more truthful than their B2B cousins, visitors are convinced they’re not fabricating information and are largely comfortable with the sites they’re navigating.

People seem to be either uncomfortable when commenting on blogs or fabricating information outright. I’m shocked, aren’t you?

We also considered a “glom”, meaning it covers all sites in our system. We analyze information from several sectors, verticals and markets, some with only one client and others with several, therefore this glom truly is a glom, an amalgam, of visitors. Think of a delicious stew that has great subtlety and is wonderfully filling and you have the idea.

Visitors to online insurers are incredibly truthful in filling out forms and navigating insurance sites. Good job and nicely done, online insurers (at least those in our system), you’ve managed to build rapport and create relationships with your online visitors that insures comfort and honest dealings. Hooray for you!

Online medical and pharma sites is where we recognize that these reports show more than just visitor truth and fabrication, they also display comfort and discomfort with the information presented on a site. Here we learn that many visitors to these sites are telling the truth when filling out forms and also uncomfortable, perhaps in a state of physical or emotional distress, with their need to be on such sites.

High-end vacation sites demonstrate one of my more fun findings to share with NextStage clients; those who offer high-end vacations. Why is this fun? Because while it might look as if most visitors to these sites are either uncomfortable or making something up, it’s more likely the case that they are imagining themselves taking part is some stimulating adventure scenario (I know I could use one right about now…) and that active imagination would be registered as fabricated information.

Our last chart dealt with people entering information into corporate wikis. The large majority of people entering data into corporate wikis believe they’re offering accurate information. More importantly, nobody entering information into the corporate wikis NextStage is monitoring believes they’re making up information.

This report is offered as NextStage Veritas Gauge. Hate to think I spent a month calibrating and verifying data from various sources, perfecting the math, so on and so forth, for nothing.


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What does NextStage do?

Once again I was asked “What does NextStage do?”

This is an agonizing question for me. People expect a short, quick, succinct answer. I give them what I believe is a short, quick, succinct answer, “NextStage does research” and the conversation spirals downward from there. This happens a lot, the spiralling. I described it in The NextStageologist on Mars and Second Life? I don’t find you interesting in Real Life

This time, though, I got a completely different response, “Very interesting Joseph, let me chew on this for a while and get back to you.” along with a description of the individual’s position in their company.

The funny thing is that my response was my usual response. NextStage does research, tool development, trainings, presentations, consultations. The overriding theme is “How do people interact with information?”

This means what we do today can be very different from what we did last week and will probably be different from what we’re doing next week. Do we work on websites? Yes, and not exclusively. Do we work with print? Yes, and not exclusively. Do you work with video? Yes, …

But if you ask “Do you work on how people interact with information? So you help companies figure out how to modify what they do in print from what they do on the web and TV?” Yes, very good. That’s it pretty much.

A client once told me we do market research. Not sure I agree, but there you have it.

What amuses me is that this blog is pretty much a synopsis of what we do. Branding studies, how to use online video to capture market share and drive business, when to use sound files and why, how and why do audiences segment the way they do, …, and it all comes down to “How do people interact with information?”

So bear with me for a paragraph or two…

NextStage researches “how people interact with information”, something that grew out of my 1991 thesis, “How We Learn to Learn”, basically a blend of anthro, linguistics, semiotics and half a dozen other major fields and about 120 disciplines. The reason the research set is so rich is because, when I couldn’t find an answer to a problem in one field, I started modifying the problem model until it had similar macroproperties to solved problems in at least one other field and usually several. The next step was to determine how the macroproperties translated between disciplines, apply the learning of the solved metaphor to the unsolved metaphor, experiment with the translated paradigm to determine what properties were extant between metaphors then solve accordingly.

Because of this, Evolution Technology borrows from fields as diverse as quantum-magneto-hydro-dynamics and immunoassay development.

Okay. So how do companies use our research, tools, and consulting to help them?

Well…this is where it gets pretty interesting.

Higher Ed uses our tools and consulting to help them capture more of a decreasing market; first time college students. We’re helping them on several fronts; marketing, social networking, social media, creating rich personae of their target audience, …

All of which, to me, is “how people interact with information”.

Event organizers use our tools and consulting to help them expand into other product offerings via understanding how to translate their existing successful brand into recognizable brands in other markets.

Again, “how people interact with information”.

An F500 used us to help them understand why their employees weren’t accessing their employee site, and what to do so that employees would access the employee site.

(ditto)

Media buyers, media planners and some SEO firms use our tools to determine where to place ads online and in print so that the ads will have the greatest impact.

(ditto)

Companies use us to help them develop successful WOM and viral campaigns, …

(ditto)

Most engagements begin with conversations (a discovery process). Is the potential client having a recognizable problem? Can they explain the challenge? How is this a challenge? To what? In what way? What would be the best possible outcome? What would be the best possible solution? What would be an acceptable solution? What would be a horrible solution? … I’ve been told that I can be both intimidating and frustrating, but companies still come to us (we don’t advertise and have been reactive for a while now).

NextStage is blessed with being in a position to focus its attention on whatever catches my interest. I’m blessed with being interested in things that most people won’t care about for several years yet. Another thing that grew out of my thesis is NextStage’s proprietary Evolution Technology. Most of our tools are based on various models inherent in the technology.

I hope this helps. I much better talking on the phone. I’m much better answering questions, otherwise I tend to ramble (you couldn’t tell, I’m sure).
Also, my apologies if this seems glib. That is not my intent. I simply don’t know how to answer the “What does NextStage do?” question quickly and succinctly.


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Good Blogging Advice from Brad Berens

My quest for good content brought me once again to Brad Beren’s Mediavorous [[(now dead)]] blog, this time to his “Gawker’s List of Blog-Media Cliches and more online writing rules” post.

I’m not sure and I’d like to think I’m not guilty of mistakes Brad enumerates.

I also think his post is another example of kismet, serendipity, …

As I wrote there, I was at a Boston KMForum meeting yesterday and the subject was “dark” blogging. Dark blogs are the blogs the public doesn’t normally have access to, such as internal corporate blogs, internal academic blogs, so on and so forth.

Brad puts up a post about online writing challenges and one of the conjectures at yesterday’s conference was that everyone blogging and such is going to raise the level of everyone’s writing simply because a) everyone’s writing will be out for public scrutiny and 2) they will be writing more often.

We’ll wait and see…


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