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’.


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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Technology and Buying Patterns

Note: this post is from Mar ’07. We’re reposting because J references it in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation.

I was reading through some fascinating research the other day. The conclusion is a little long and I’ll do my best to break it down (so that I can understand it more than anything else).

The conclusion goes like this: “Populations will shift their browsing/buying patterns (patterns of social interaction) based on technological changes that make their lives easier if they move to a new social strata where the technological innovations are more unilaterally applied.”

What does that mean?

First up, we’re dealing with a population undergoing change. “Populations will shift…” and “…if they move…”.

These changes are first psychological (“…a new social strata…”) and may be due to positive changes in their financial situation. The changes will probably generate a positive change in their environment (they’ll move to a different neighborhood, probably one more reflective of their positive change in finances).

The cognitive, behavioral/effective and motivational driver for the changes will be greater access to some technology that makes their lives easier. Examples of this would be living closer to a highway for a commuter, moving to a neighborhood which has faster internet access, things like that. A demonstration of this technology (and evidence to the population on the move that they’re moving to the “right” place) will be that everyone in this new place has equal access to the technology.

Evidence of this psychological move will be changes in what they buy and how they buy it.

Well…uh…hmm…On a first read and after a little decoding, this is obvious. “People whose financial situation changes will change their buying patterns and what they buy.”

But that’s not what this research concludes. The financial change isn’t the impetus nor is it the end result. The conclusion of this research is

  1. people will change their financial situation
  2. in order to have access to certain technologies
  3. that make their lives easier

Companies wanting to incentivise their employees should give them access to neat “toys” (HDTV, up-scale cars, better hotel accommodations while traveling, send them to high-end shows and conferences are examples). Increasing their pay won’t due it. Give them a taste of the good life on the job and they’ll want it at home, and that will incentivise them to work harder to get it.

That’s what I think of as a beneficial use of this research. It also indicates something else; people will put themselves in greater and greater debt in order to have access to things they believe will make their lives easier. The above bullet points start with “people will change their financial situation” and there is no guarantee that change will be positive, only that it will change.

That’s a little different, don’t you think?

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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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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.


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