Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation Now Available on Amazon


First, we appreciate everyone’s patience while we got this volume out.
And now, from Holly Buchanan‘s Foreword to the book…

Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and ExpectationAfter inhaling Reading Virtual Minds Volume I I was like an antsy 3-year old waiting for Reading Virtual Minds Volume II. It did not disappoint.
I love the way Joseph Carrabis thinks. He has a unique ability to share broad rich theory with actionable specifics. Unlike many technical writers, he has a unique voice that is both approachable and humorous. It makes for an enjoyable read.
But what’s the main reason why you should read Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experiences and Expectations? Because where most companies and designers fail is on the expectation front.

Humans are designed as expectation engines.

This is, perhaps, the most important sentence in this book. One of the main points Joseph makes in this volume is this – Understand your audiences’ whys and you’ll design near perfect whats.
Design failures come from getting the whys wrong. That can lead to failures on the experience side, but also on the expectation side. And that can be the bigger problem.

Expectation is a top-down process. Higher-level information informs lower-level processing. Experience is a bottom-up process. Sensory information goes into higher-level processing for evaluation. Humans are designed as expectation engines. Topdown connections out number bottom-up connections by about 10:1.

Why is this so important?

In language, more than anywhere else, we see or hear what we expect to hear, not necessarily what is said or written. Across all cultures and languages, neurophysiologists and psychologists estimate that what we experience is as much as 85% what we expect to experience, not necessarily what is real or ‘environmentally available’.

And

When people expect A and get B they go through a few moments of fugue. External reality is not synching up with internal reality and the mind and brain will, if allowed, burn themselves out making the two mesh.

Get your consumer/visitor/user experience AND expectation right, get their why right, and you’ll be exponentially more successful.

Here are just a few of the goodies you’ll find in this book:

  • Privacy vs. value exchange and when to ask for what information. Joseph has some actionable specifics on this that will surprise you.
  • Why we design for false attractors rather than the real problem.
  • The importance of understanding convincer strategies. Convincer strategies are the internal processes people go through in order to convince themselves they should or should not do something.
  • Companies spend a lot of time trying to convince consumers to trust them. But what may be even more important is understanding how to let consumers you know you trust them. This book has ideas on how to show your customers/users/visitors, “I believe in you”.
  • How often our own experience influence our designs. Unless you’re able to throw all your experience out, and let the user’s experience in, get out of the usability and design business.
  • How to allow your visitors easy Anonymous-Expressive Identity and make them yours forever.
  • Regarding new material, design, interface, the importance of making sure your suggestions provide a clear path to the past (thus being risk averse while providing marketable innovation).

As always, Reading Virtual Minds provides specific actionable ideas. But it will also make you think and approach your work in a new way. And I think that’s the best reason to treat yourself to this book and the inner workings of NextStage and Joseph Carrabis.


(and we never argue with Holly Buchanan…)


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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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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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Have you met Eris? You might have known her as Xena

A) I’m not talking about the Warrior Princess getting a makeover and B) just something I found interesting, another swipe at the mythologies I grew up with.

Quick like a bunny, How many planets are there? Eight? Nine? Ten? Bigger than a breadbox?

I think and am not sure that there are eight planets. Pluto, an old and cold (but not cold-hearted) friend I grew up with has officially been dwarf-planeted. No longer a planet but neither an also-ran, Pluto is too small to be an official “planet”. Once again, humanic egotism decides the rules of the cosmos.

Eris (also known as Xena) and her moon, Dysnomia (also known as Dysnomia)

And not only is Pluto no longer a planet, Pluto is not even the largest dwarf-planet. That honor goes to Eris, a dwarf-planet known as “Xena” to her friends, shown here with her moon, Dysnomia, also known as Dysnomia to her friends. Eris-Xena is 27% more massive than Pluto. Not sure where to go with that one. Does he need to beef up or does she need to go on a diet?

And how does this tie into the myths of childhood?

Jupiter, comin' at cha

Does anybody remember when Jupiter’s Great Red Spot of Jupiter was whacked by Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9? I remember an NPR talk show (I think it was years after the fact) dealing with it and possible Armageddon (of course. I wonder if the Jovians were concerned?). I remember my earliest science readings (probably in Reader’s Digest) about the Great Red Spot; it was bigger than earth, you know.

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 whacks Jupiter

Forget the ripples this created in the Jovian atmosphere. Forget that we (Earth) could be next and here was an example of just how devastating such impacts could be.

Such things are abstract in the extreme to most people walking the planet. The human mind really can’t understand these things except at a superficial level. We’re still pretty much stuck with a “Find food. Stay warm. Reproduce” wiring.

But in that wiring are things we decide have permanence. One of the ways this concept of permanence makes itself known is in the catchphrases “It’s not rocket science” and “It’s not brain surgery”. We as a culture have decided these are difficult tasks and have elevated them to “permanent-difficult” status. These elevations can be extremely personal and private and can be thought of as personal myths.

For me, one of the things I elevated to permanent-trust status was that the planets were, well, the planets. One reason lots of people had a challenge with Pluto being demoted to dwarf-planet status is because that permanent-trust elevation was being violated.

So when The Great Red Spot got whacked? Ohh, c’est terrible! Thank goodness that when I wikipeded The Great Red Spot I learned it was still there. I think. This was Wikipedia, after all.

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Brad Berens on “How Big Can the Web Get?”


Brad Berens commented on my How Big Can the Web Get? post that online to offline isn’t as interesting a question as heavy versus light use. I responded that I agree that the yearly dropoff rates are a relationally small number. He mentions the Nielsen Media findings of a few years back that the average American has 96 TV channels at his or her disposal but only watches about 15.

His thought is that it might be pre-emptive media filtering to me and I asked if that information had generational boundaries and took into account sites like ManiaTV.

If generational, we could be witnessing voluntary simplification on the web. This is something NextStage has been seeing for a bit and there’s not enough real evidence for it to be anything more than an interesting anecdote at present.

I agree with Brad that an interesting research venue is heavy versus light use, what Brad writes as “…an increase in the number of websites visited per session/day/week versus a more static number, etc.” This is something I think is going to be directly addressed by portals and especially portals where the visitor can place “browser windows” where they want, something alluded to in my recent IMedia piece on the death of the webpage.

Also, I think another question moving forward is what impact internet television is going to have on what people watch and how they watch it. I’ve been having some interesting talks with Drew Massey and Jason Damata of ManiaTV in preparation for an IMedia column. Interesting things are happening and, you betcha, what gets measured and how it gets measured is going to change.

What does this do to quorums? Not much, I think. The joy of quorums and quorum sensing is that they are elements of The Village (hate to harp on that concept and I do think it’s a powerful one). They come and go as required and are psychologically mobile, fluid, dynamic. Their size is more dependent on what the quorum needs to get done than the number of people willing to take part. Too large a social construct for a given function and it fractionates. Subgroups form which take on specific subfunctions, each group growing or fractionating until the optimal size for performing its function is reached. Bandura’s work pretty much confirms this, I think; quorums (groups) will form and dissolve based more on the group’s belief it can achieve some goal it defines for itself.

Quorum will sense they can form or not and that will continue. New media and new technology will only provide different petri-dishes, if you will. Society as a whole will only recognize the quorums have formed once the quorums begin to crawl out of the dish.

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