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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Panalysis’ Rod Jacka Said It

[Note: this post is from Oct ’07. We’re backfilling again for Joseph’s references in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation]

Panalysis‘ Rod Jacka noticed that I referenced his email to me in Back from eMetrics Dec ’07 and invited me to both attribute the quote to him and provide the full quote.

I’ll gladly attribute the quote to him (and a G’Day, Mate! back to you, Rod).

What I will do is expand a bit on what Rod learned and is commenting on in his email to me. First, I’m not going to say A/B-Multivariate-Taguchi testing is a waste of time or money. Second, I will note that every time I do a quick analysis of a company’s website I get the same reactions; “…we just did some A/B-multivariate-Taguchi testing and everything you said is what we found out we had to do.” This has happened at IMedia summits, eMetrics summits and countless times with clients.

What’s it all about? It’s very simple, really. It’s all about knowing how the human brain is wired and how it’s going to respond to information in its environment. This is the key to it all and what NextStage has been researching, publishing about and helping clients with for almost seven years now. A web page and more recently multi-media (what NextStage calls “multi-modal”. see Get the attention you’re already paying for (page 2 of 4)) environments are nothing more than demonstrations of what the brain-mind has been dealing with for several millions of evolutionary history. This history exists and won’t be replaced any time soon so make use of it.

Think of it as “Those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it.” My guess is they’re repeating it by spending tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on A/B-multivariate-Taguchi methods.


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Back from eMetrics DC’07

[Note: this post is from Oct ’07. We’re backfilling again for Joseph’s references in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation]

Officially home, officially exhausted.

My thanks to everyone who attended my presentation and the folks who attended my workshop. I enjoyed talking with you all, learning from you and sharing with you. Many folks came up to me after my presentation to share how much they enjoyed it. I’m grateful.

My favorite, I’ll admit, is a toss up. Getting a nod from Dell’s Annette Priest during her keynote was nice. I also received something in my emails that gave me a kick…

I can quite truthfully say that your talk was one of the most memorable and useful from the conference. I am sad to say that I chose to do the predictive analytics course over yours; however that choice was made prior to my arriving at the conference and it would be a very tough call if I weren’t already locked in. I will certainly keep you in mind when I am talking to clients and I will certainly follow your work in the future.

I don’t know if you caught the multivariate testing spiel from {a company}, but after seeing your talk I noticed that their use of imagery in the control and winning recipe pages was very interesting.

Their first image showed a couple with one of them looking slightly above the key message and the other slightly below the “call to action” button. The winning formula had an alternative couple image where they were both looking in the direction of the “call to action” button. It makes me think that perhaps a few small rules like that could have resulted in a similar outcome without the need for elaborate, expensive and time consuming multivariate testing. Naturally I would do an A/B test with a control group; however this would be much simpler than the full blown version.

Keep up the great work.


Many thanks. This reader is talking about a part of my presentation that I also used in Putting the user’s eyes to work. NextStage Members can download the full paper as part of their membership.

Enjoy!


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NextStage gets a nod from Dell’s Annette Priest at eMetrics DC Summit

[Note: this post is from Oct ’07. We’re backfilling again for Joseph’s references in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation]

It’s so nice when one’s work get’s noticed, in this case by Dell’s Usability Research Manager, Annette Priest. First and so there’s no confusion, Dell is neither a NextStage nor my personal client. Ms. Priest’s nod was a recognition that more and more companies need to start utilizing the kind of research that NextStage is known for – understanding the hearts and minds of consumers through a variety of disciplines.

My thanks to Ms. Priest for the kind words and to Jim Sterne for putting the venue together.


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The Complete “Responding to BT and Privacy” Arc

Note: Another four part arc presented here, single post style, and you’re welcome.

Responding to BT and Privacy, Part 1

In keeping with my habit of catching up on readings months after the fact, I was reading Dave Smith’s “BT And Privacy, Part I: Opt-Out On-Demand“, the first entry in a four part arc on…uh…privacy.

I’ve read this post and the others in the arc several times now (I rarely read things once and usually over several months or even years. Each time I’m reading something new because I’ve changed so my responses to what I’m reading have changed. It’s what’s happened in the silences, if you will, that tell me what what I’m reading means to me) and believe I might have something to share about it.

The premise is that site visitors should be given a chance to opt-out of advertising they find offensive via a button. My online response is:

This is an interesting methodology for opting out and I would be curious to learn how implementation would integrate with Creative’s efforts. I do agree with Dave Morgan that things could blow up. The increasing sophistication of users and the increasing felicity of mobspots (smart mobs for the web) is, I think, contributing to the increasing need for companies to proactively address consumer fears before consumers craft their own methods for addressing their fears.

I would add to the above that even opting out of some ad is a data point worth harvesting. The kindness being offered — an opt-out option for offensive material — is a worthy idea and let no one thing altruism is its intent. Even if not originally fashioned as such, anything and everything done online is analysed and, much like my reading habits, analyzed again and again and again.

Responding to BT and Privacy, Part 2

I’m still reading through Steve Smith’s BT and Privacy series, this time “BT And Privacy, Part 2: Tacoda’s Choice“, part 2 in this arc.

There were some phrases that gave me distinct pause:

  • “If they opt out, a Tacoda cookie is set and our targeting engine knows not to serve them an ad.”
  • “The publishers’ privacy policy will refer to the existence of third-party cookies and to the fact that data is used to target ads by other than the publisher. But as you point out, it’s a hard concept to
    grasp for the average consumer, which is why we are taking our own steps.”

  • “We think that if we are proactive in explaining what we do, that consumers and our peers in the industry will recognize and be able to separate the good and careful players from the bad.”

My thoughts follow…

This is an interesting follow-up to Part 1 of this arc. I agree that being proactive with user privacy is paramount, and definitely agree that explaining what is being done is a good step. I wrote about just that thing in A Little About Cookies. I disagree that these concepts are difficult for the average consumer. At one time, perhaps yes, now not so much so. What is pointed to by this article is that getting consumers to accept privacy as a commodity is ripe for a good viral campaign.

What I didn’t add in my comment is that the method used to determine someone has opted out is foreshadowed in my previous post. It is another data point in the system.

The final question will be the value exchanged. Is the consumer willing to exchange information for what is presented on the page? Consumers, especially web-based consumers, are increasingly savvy. That exchange is going to have to be exponentially to their benefit as time goes on.

Responding to BT and Privacy, Part 3

I’m now at “BT And Privacy, Part 3: Revenue Science Says Safeguards Are Already There“.

As with part 2, there were some phrases that gave me distinct pause:

  1. “…the industry already does a good job of covering privacy
    concerns and giving consumers the tools for opting out of whatever offends them online.”

  2. “They can obtain an ‘opt-out cookie’ to prevent any data from being associated with their browser. In addition, we provide complete instructions on how to opt out of Revenue Science’s network advertising services.”
  3. “It is necessary for interested consumers to be able to find accurate information about all of these issues.”
  4. “We never collect personally identifiable information, so people benefit from more relevant content while remaining completely anonymous.”
  5. “We not only have to communicate how consumers’ privacy is being protected, but the benefits that they are getting from BT, which will only increase as BT continues to become a more integral part of the economics of online media.”

Let me respond (my opinions) by the numbers…

  1. The ultimate decision maker regarding how good an job any industry is doing meeting the needs of consumers is the consumers themselves. In this case, companies using an ad network will feel the force of consumer decision before any network group does.
  2. I defer to Stephan Spencer’s, Founder and President of Netconcepts, great adage “If we want people to use it, it’s going to have to be stupid simple.” I have no idea how simple any company’s opt-out methodology is and I’m not inferring anything about anything, I’m merely offering that for any tool to be used, it must be simple. The requirements that tools be initially simple then increasingly complicated was documented in For Angie and Matt, and The Noisy Data Finale.
  3. Has anybody seen National Treasure? It’s a great movie. Rent it if you can’t find in on cable. Watch it a few times then decide if you agree with this statement (I do agree with it) and think it’s actionable by the majority of consumers (I don’t think it is).
  4. Very honorable. Neither does NextStage. We’re so finicky about being honorable, we list our Principles on line.
  5. An interesting problem to solve, much like communicating the values of inoculation; we’re going to protect you from something you can’t actually see but might hurt you if you don’t let us do this. I know that sounds facetious and I don’t mean it to be. The purpose is essentially prophylactic and phyletics are a notoriously hard sell until people are dying around you.

An issue that was raised in this post is “relevancy” and it’s a worthwhile part of this discussion. People (we are told) don’t mind seeing ads when those ads are relevant to them. To me the question is “Who decides what’s relevant to them?” The answer, me thinks, is “the consumer” and thus the circle is complete.

Responding to BT and Privacy, Part 4 and finale

This section is a response to Steve Smith’s “BT And Privacy, Part 4: Higher Education“, last part in an arc on online privacy that I found a fascinating read (several times).

I’m not going to list separate phrases which caught my attention because, when all is said and done, I admit to a great deal of discomfort with the issue. I don’t think consumers understand the difference between privacy and anonymity, I think an industry policing itself is laudable and hasn’t worked well in the past (think Big Tobacco, S&Ls, …).

Analyzing all statements made in this arc reminds me of how the general populace first learned of AIDS; it was a disease of the poor, it was a disease of blacks, it was a disease of minorities, is was a disease of Gays, it was oh my god what do you mean white heterosexual men can get it?

I also get concerned when someone says, essentially, “This is too complicated for you to understand.” Such statements minimize both who’s speaking and who’s listening. If Einstein could explain relativity to a child, an industry should be able to describe its practices to an interested public. Yes, I know there’s a catch here; you need an interested public to explain it to. This is where I complete my circle, I guess, as I think having simple explanations in place now will make addressing future concerns that much easier, should they appear.

There is an interesting merry-go-round going on here; should consumer privacy concerns increase and spread, a market will be created (one already exists and I’m thinking a much larger one would come into being). Another market will then come into existence to extract the necessary targeting information required by the types of networks discussed in this arc. This goes beyond the lock and pick metaphor, I think, and drops into opt-in marketing (which would be extremely high relevance marketing) because now the consumer is no longer worried about keeping unwanted content out, they’ve taken steps to make sure only wanted content gets in.

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