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 “Who’s In Control?” Arc

Note: Another arc, this one eight posts long. Amazing, isn’t it?

Who’s In Control?

A friend told me he is in therapy because his life is out of control. Too many demands on his time. A cell phone and a pager and a PDA and children and a wife and a job and a …

I listened. I congratulated him on deciding this was a problem for him and seeking help. I didn’t want to tell him that his immediate solution to the problem — too many demands on his time — was to add another demand to his schedule — a regular therapy session.

People who work with me call me a workaholic. Another friend tole me last week that I’m always busy because I’m always doing something, always active. People have repeatedly either told me they’re amazed at what I’ve done in my life or asked how I could achieve what I have. Some of it is nature (my musical ability or lack thereof, for example) and some is nurture (a family and culture where solving problems and core elements of solutions was prized, a family of readers, homes full of music and song, a family and culture that taught by storytelling and process modeling).

There’s also the fact that I realized at a very early age I was different from my peers in ways I couldn’t explain. I’ve wondered, in retrospect, if this awareness I had has similarities to the young boy or girl realizing they’re gay.

Aside from the anatomical confusions that are part of adolescence, what are the external physical manifestations of what amount to completely functional yet decidedly differently neurologic structural adaptations to… what? Are the neurologic adaptations required to alter physiologic manifestations Nature’s way of testing a theory? Easy theory to test: are there more gay people per capita in the world now than elsewhen in recorded history?

If yes –> homosexuality is an adaptive model that is working for the here and now. If not –> then not.

The concept of adaptive modeling is a challenging one for many people. Especially those who don’t study how things evolve over time (my thinking? Everything evolves over time). Nature (like me, I guess) is always testing theories and providing solutions to problems. I’ve heard it said that the age of the dinosaurs was Nature testing whether big teeth and big muscles were the way to go and eventually decided no, they weren’t.

Who’s In Control? (part 2)

We left off wondering if big teeth and big muscles was an experiment that failed. Here we pick up with how Nature really tests theories…

Well, close and no cigar. Nature found a solution that worked in the environment of the time. As things changed, old solutions didn’t solve the new problems (something I’m hoping to communicate in my comments on Starting the discussion: Attention, Engagement, Authority, Influence, …, but that’s another blog entirely and literally) so come up with some new solutions. Right now it seems Nature is testing to learn if big brains (comparatively speaking) are an adequate solution to the current problems.

My guess (in this anyway) is that the cure is worse than the disease. Big brains seem to causing more problems than they solve (see The World Without Us for a good read on this subject). And big brains’ current run is something less than a million years. Dinosaurs had several million, at least two orders of magnitude the run of big brains.

So maybe, just as big teeth and big muscles evolved to insure a good, long run, so shall big brains.

Who’s In Control? (part 3)

Here we question if homosexuality is another one of Nature’s experiments.

So if homosexuality is a test on Nature’s part, so be it. I’ve mentioned a childhood acquaintance, Andy, before. One of my strongest memories of Andy involved a third child whom I’ll call “Robert”. Andy never played with Robert because, when Robert played house with little girls, Robert often offered to be the “wife”.

I still remember, when Andy told me of Robert’s role-reversal play, how Andy wrinkled his nose, how his lips and face tightened, how his body tensed. I realize now he was merely demonstrating something he learned from his family, didn’t realize it then (it was only third grade). The message was quite clear — Robert was diseased, somehow wrong and wrong in an incredibly terrifying way because, while Peter, another friend, had an obviously club foot, Robert had no outward signs of his deformity. You couldn’t be sure by looking if someone else was wrong the way Robert was wrong.

Oh my! Scary Scary!

Who’s In Control? (part 4)

Here we deal with some of childhood’s mysteries. Just as Robert’s tendencies weren’t obvious in the way Peter’s club foot was obvious, so my tendencies, my “wrongness”, wasn’t obvious to those I played with.

My grandmother Sadie, when I was two or three or so, use to call me her Little Professor (another very involved post dealing with obvious evidence that remains unseen) because I seemed to study every thing around me. Grandma Sadie rejoiced in my wrongness but Andy, when he shared Robert’s wrongness with me and I replied, “So?” because men did a lot of the cooking in my family and performed other “traditional female” chores (I still do my share of the cooking, do the laundry, vacuum, …) turned that same look of fear, disgust and repulsion on me. The unspoken “Oh, God! Not you, too!” was as wounding then as the pod person’s signaling of “Other! Alien! Stranger! Intruder!” in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Andy’s mother spent a lot of time on the phone with my parents attempting to understand me or have my parents get me the help I needed to be a normal child. She was a very sweet albeit extremely prejudiced woman. I wonder if Andy ever grew beyond her lessons. For that matter, I wonder if I have.

I’ve written before that I now make a living out of thinking differently. My different neurologic wiring, whether an evolutionary adaptation, a simple sport, a stray gamma ray or not, is something I’ve managed to turn to profit. I can only hope Robert has done the same. In life.

Who’s In Control? (part 5)

Here we discuss finding teachers who honor differences rather than attempt to beat them out of you (with apologies to Indian Schools, Catholic schools and all the other educational institutions that are stereotyped correctly or incorrectly as not dealing well with differences in the student body).

Part of recognizing you’re different is deciding if you will foster those differences or not. In my case it meant either finding or being offered teachers who could help me decide if I wanted to foster my differences or not.

That is an important point. Not “teachers who could foster my differences” but “teachers who could help me decide if that’s what I wanted”.

Disciplining the mind is (technically) no different than disciplining the body. There’s the Nature v Nurture limitations again and that’s about all. True teachers know the student’s limits as well as their own. If there’s any difference between mind and body it’s that muscles grow and tighten as discipline’s applied. The mind? Does the skull reform as more training’s applied? Do we grow a sixth finger as knowledge grows?

I sometimes wish it were so. Instead disciplines of the mind — often closely tied to disciplines of the body — manifest themselves in the looks given when the obvious is to others not so, when order leaps from where others can only see chaos.

Who’s In Control? (part 6)

Here we explore one of the things I was taught early in my studies; Every weakness is a strength, every strength is a weakness (one of the early people who worked with NextStage couldn’t understand this. Their tenure was unfortunately short).

The most I could ever benchpress was 350# ten times and that was years ago. I have talked and laughed and trained with people who could benchpress me, the bench, that weight and a hundred pounds more all day without breaking a sweat. I’ve also met, studied and worked with people whose intellectual capabilities make me seem a driveling fool. I don’t know who I pity or envy more.

But weaknesses are strengths just as strengths are weaknesses (remind me to tell you about moving safes sometime).

A problem, once solved, bores me — great for research, lousy for productization (and Susan, the truly intelligent one in the family, suggested a reframe of this such that it’s also great for productization. I always tell people she’s the really smart one. Wish they’d believe me). A question, unanswered, requires research — It was suggested I check [[(a now defunct)]] blog twice a day and post to it. Post what? It takes me two weeks of study before I begin to understand the questions being asked. Coauthoring a blog has given me the opportunity to analyze the thought processes of others personally, sans the objective distance the NextStage Toolkits provide me. I’ve learned why people are sometimes impressed at my ability to focus and other times accuse me of not appreciating a situation’s complexity.

Who’s In Control? (part 7)

This section begins the round up and offers some solutions for my friend who’s confession got me started on this arc.

So how do I, with all my physical and mental training, help my demand enshrouded friend?

  1. Put yourself first in your life. Until you know how much space you take up there’s no room for anyone else.
  2. Work towards Joy. (ask a semanticist or a linguist to explain the humor in that one)
  3. Understand that you can’t recognize joy unless you’ve experienced sorrow.
  4. Recognize that you can’t choose everything that happens to you and that you can choose how you respond to it.

Less euphemistically?

Who’s In Control? (finale)

We conclude with some expansions of what was offered yesterday in part 7.

  1. Make yourself the most important demand in your life. Are emails a time suck? Don’t get them for a day. People will call if they need you. The phone ringing too much? Shut it off. People will knock on your door if it’s important. Too many people knocking? Take a day and tell no one where you go. Are you too important? Then you’re not. Not to yourself. Until you’re important to yourself you’re not important to anybody else, you’re a crutch.
  2. It really is that simple. No, really, it is. Is it not that simple? Do I not understand? Back at you. It is that simple and it’s you that doesn’t understand the true, real nature of the problem. Solutions are obvious. They always are. You just need to look in the right place to find them. Finding solutions isn’t the challenge, it’s knowing where to find them that is. Learn how to do that and you’ve learned it all. Take a lesson from the US Naval Academy. Take time to learn what’s important and focus on it.
  3. Make a list and keep to it. Realize there are only so many hours in a day and fill your list accordingly. Get a lot of items? Then you’ve made a two-day or week long list. Add to or reorganize your list only for items 1 and 2 above and in that order.

There you have it: Carrabis’ 3 Laws of Humans. Consider them Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics for those of us who don’t want to be robots.

And now my hand tires from all this writing. I compose on paper, review, rewrite and edit on paper before I type it into the computer and post it online. Not always. Only the important ones.

And the solution? Quite simple. Time to stop.


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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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Sentiment Analysis, Anyone? (Part 1)

We’ve been getting a lot of requests for Sentiment Analysis lately. Based on my fun ride regarding engagement, I decided to find out what Sentiment Analysis was before saying NextStage had been doing it for years, what’s all the excitement about?

So I went to Wikipedia and read “Sentiment analysis refers to a broad (definitionally challenged) area of…” “(definitionally challenged)”???

Ah. Yet another buzzword in a long list of “My gosh, what shall we call something else we can’t really do?” words being slung about in the analytics world.

Okay, fair enough. People selling the stuff are attempting to own the field by telling clients what it is, what it’s suppose to be about and what they should expect. Some of you may know that Susan has a pharma background and that I often advise pharmas. They often say something like “We just discovered that this chemical compound has these effects. Can we come up with some catchy-named syndrome that this concoction will treat?” Same thing, really. “We know what we can do. Let’s give it a name and see if we can sell it.”

But we are NextStage. We follow a different path.

Asking “What do you want a Sentiment Analysis product to do?”

I asked some people to tell me what they would like in a Sentiment Analysis product (thank you, Chris Berry and Stephane Hamel).

I wrote Chris:

Howdy,
I’m wondering what, exactly, you folks would like a “sentiment analysis” tool to do.
Oh, the heck with that. Please give me a list of things you’d like some tool to do such that when you point some content at it, it tells you something about that content that would be valuable to you/your clients.
Remember, you’re talking to Joseph here. Go nuts with this.

<Fair Warning Dept>
This is going to be a long, rambling post, folks.
…and I plan on having fun, too…
</Fair Warning Dept>

Chris responded with:
<Begin List of Unreasonable Metrics>

  1. The aggregate degree of trust between a person (brand) and a social network or contained in the message.
  2. The aggregate degree of affinity between a person (brand) and a social network or contained in the message.
  3. The intent behind a comment (author intent) (Referral: I like this, you’re a friend, you will like this too. Check it out. :: Retribution: You piss me off. I’m telling everybody to avoid you. :: Love: I just want to say how great you guys are. :: Constructive: I like you, this is what I want now. Troll:: I don’t really feel anything towards you, I’m bored and I want to be entertained.)
  4. Is the comment “Positive”, “Negative”, or “Neutral” – accurate to within +/- 5%, 19/20. This is how most social vendors classify it. I don’t consider these numbers to be helpful, but they are ‘standard’. However, they tend to have a much higher rate of error. (3) is where it’s at.
  5. {C, B/e, M} profile of the author of a comment or blog post.
  6. The likelihood that the message will have the desired intent on those who read it.
  7. The likelihood that the message will have the desired intent based on psychographic distance from the author.
  8. The ability for the tool to return a CSV (or some other file) listing the social graph of the {C, B/e, M} profiles in relationship to each other within a specific tribe, in general, for the purposes of segmenting discussions based on expert areas. (Testing the 1957 “Word-of-Mouth” studies and the whole air conditioning patterns for new product introductions.)
  9. The likelihood that the message will be remembered or committed to memory. (Goes to that damned traditional metric: message recall. I don’t think that conscious recall is nearly as important than sub-conscious recall, but I’ll admit being wrong if shown evidence to the contrary.)
  10. The gender and age of the author of a comment or blog post.
  11. The gender and age of the composition of the social network observing the comment or blog post. [Tribe analysis].
  12. The purchase / re-purchase intent of the author.
  13. Identification of who, within a social network, is an influencer, a gatekeeper, or a hub. (IE. Identification of who should I talk to first to get movement on a message.)
  14. Suggestions, based on the {C, B/e, M} profile, of how to frame a message.

If NS wanted to compete on a ‘whole product’ basis:

<End List of Unreasonable Metrics>

I’m being unreasonable. You expected it though?

<Susanism>
I showed Susan Chris’ wishlist. “But we already do all that,” she said. “It’s already in TargetTrack.”[[we broke out the original TargetTrack tool into several NextStage tools]]
</Susanism>

(skip down to the boring stuff)

Zappos Twitter page

I then asked Chris for a webpage to analyze. He sent me http://twitter.com/zappos. As I’m learning about Twitter myself, I kept on clicking the “more” button at the bottom of the page for a while. Eventually I had the page from 3:10pmET 2 June 09 back to “10:41 PM Mar 28th from web”. I broke this into two files, one was just the comment stream, the other was the whole page — graphics and everything — including the comment stream.

Why did I do this? Because people will non-consciously be influenced by all the information presented, not just the comments.

Then I fed both into the ET TargetTrack tool [[The original TargetTrack Tool has been broken out into many of NextStage’s tools. This particular tool has been available since 22 Mar 2001. You’ll find some TargetTrack case studies on our Case Studies page.

<Anecdote>
Chris and others may remember my visit to the Chicago Critical Mass offices in Aug ’08. I was told a client company was interested in modifying their websites for three countries. I asked for the websites, fed them through TargetTrack on my laptop in my hotel room while having breakfast that morning before the meeting (did I mention that TargetTrack, like all ET based tools, is highly compact, extremely accurate and very fast? It’s not sexy, whatever Rene means by that, but compact, accurate and fast? Those we can do), and read the results over a cup of coffee.

<Dr.Geertzism>
Dr. Geertz, who some of you may remember as commenting on my TheFutureOf posts, has become one of my most trusted first readers. On reading through this he offered “With regards to ‘sexy’ as defined by Rene. Think about what a man or woman finds sexy. Focus. Would you describe it as compact, accurate, and fast? Maybe ET needs to become mysterious, exotic, dangerous, and built. There is a euphemism about partnering in business is ‘getting in bed with’ someone. Do a survey and see how many women want to get in bed with someone that describes themselves as fast and compact. Sexy? At least shoot for satisfying, thoughtful, and robust.

What I love about this is that it’s all in how one applies the terms.
</Dr.Geertzism>

When I arrived at the Critical Mass offices, I mentioned off-handedly that two of the sites would do well, one wouldn’t because TargetTrack had determined it wasn’t designed to appeal to that one country’s cultural biases.

I said it off-handedly because I’m use to TargetTrack revealing stuff like that. It was routine and old-hat to me.

And TargetTrack was right on track regarding which country’s website was performing poorly. And why.
</Anecdote>

TargetTrack is simply another implementation of our Evolution Technology (ET). That’s the technology some of you may have heard talk about recently, the technology with the very good scores at recognizing age and gender of site visitors without asking questions, without using forms, without polling other internet databases, and if you think age and gender is all it can do we should talk some time. I’ve been telling people about this stuff since 1999 so I’ve got the patter down pretty well.[[NextStage Members can access the full research paper, Machine Detection of Visitor Age and Gender via Analysis of Psychomotor Behavioral Cues, on the Members’ Papers page. A synoptic paper can be found at Predicting Age and Gender Online]]

ET itself isn’t a tool. For that matter, TargetTrack itself isn’t a tool. They are both tools that make tools (@jdaysy, this is an example of Eliadeianism at work. Most analytics tools that I’ve seen are Maslowian in nature. They are designed to do one thing and one thing only. ET, TargetTrack, etc., are tools that can be used to create more specific tools. As ET is based on human intelligence and humans (I’m hoping) can do more than one thing once taught how to do it, so can ET and its derivatives).

<Anecdote>
One of NextStage’s early investors told me “You’ve invented plastic. It doesn’t matter if they want a baby bottle or a car dashboard, all that matters is that you shape the plastic the right way. That’s what ET is, it’s a kind of plastic that people can shape to do what they need it to do.”

I love the elegance and accuracy of that.
</Anecdote>

An original TargetTrack report

TargetTrack comes in lots of flavors. The example shown here is the basic one pager and is what we provide if a) you’re not using our technology on your website and b) you come in through our TargetTrack page. [[These days you can either become a NextStage Member, take some training and access TargetTrack and lots of other tools on your own or hire us to consult and we’ll use it for you.]] We offer lots of versions based on what you need to know, all machine generated so human minds never touch them. Why is that important? Because human minds — without massive amounts of training [[(and we have that training)]]— can’t be a) neutral when responding to information and b) swap their consciousnesses in and out as required to understand how other people would respond to information. Thus unless you specifically want humans to evaluate your work and you know for a fact that the humans doing that evaluation are exactly smack-dab in the center of your target audience…

<Harrumph Dept>

attract-engage-act.jpg

And allow me a moment, if you will. The TargetTrack report shown in the above figure was produced for a client on 30 Apr 07. The yellow bar in the chart on the bottom right is entitled “Engage” as in engagement, as in “this is how well you’ve been able to focus their attention so that they’ll do what you want them to do while they’re on your site”. I know others define engagement differently than NextStage does. For us, it’s all about getting people to act, to do, so our definition of engagement — which is based on well documented psychologic concepts that have been around for over a century now — is more about getting visitors to respond the way you want them to respond (and we’ve been measuring and reporting on engagement for a long time in internet years) than about determining the ballast mass of their keyboard divided by the number of visits to your sites multiplied by the number of letters in their mother’s maiden name. Or some equally contrived calculation.

You just know Susan’s going to pull this, don’t you?
</Harrumph Dept>

Anyway, It took TargetTrack less than a minute to analyze both the whole web page and just the comments.

How Accurate is a Tool that Produces Results That Quickly?

Back in 2005 Progress Software asked us to determine which of their existing and potential partners would be successful. We used the same TargetTrack tool to analyze some 150 partner sites that was used in this analysis. ET picked the top four performers knowing nothing about the companies, only being able to predict how visitors would respond to their websites.

These four sites were the most successful Progress partners that year.

The only difference between then and now is the number of digital personalities in our system. Then it was 25,000. Now it’s about 10x that, meaning “increased accuracy”. [[And now it’s over 3MM.]] And TargetTrack is the tool we used to predict the outcomes of elections, to change the political landscape in Nova Scotia and of course to help clients save money and make money. Thank goodness there are people out there who care more about results than sexy, yes?

(start of the boring stuff)

What follows are TargetTrack’s responses to Chris’ wishlist. I’ve indicated the things TargetTrack can already do “off the shelf” and the things it can do “kind of”, meaning the best answer would be a combination of our tracking tool and TargetTrack.

The aggregate degree of trust between a person (brand) and a social network or contained in the message. (already in TargetTrack)

10 'Must' Messages

Some people may remember my eMetrics SF ’07 presentation. Part of that presentation dealt with The 10 “Must” Messages, two of which are “We Trust You” and “You Can Trust Us”. These two combine to answer Chris’ first question although it’s better to keep them separate, as we’ll see.

And I guess this is where we start offering trainings on using our technology.

Lesson the First: It doesn’t matter what the score is in isolation, it matters how well the score matches other information in the visitor’s environment. Someone sipping a glass of wine while reading an excellent novel doesn’t want an intruder to come up to them and shout “I TRUST YOU”. Whoever is doing the shouting will be evaluated as an “intruder” at best and a “nuisance to be avoided at all costs” at worst, hence the desire is to communicate “I Trust You” just enough to be recognized and favorably responded to, nothing more.

This image shows the 10 “Must” Messages of the Twitter Zappos page together with their relative strengths. You’ll notice that some messages are being SHOUTED compared to others? Not good, that. As far as it goes, the “We/I Trust You” and the “You Can Trust Me/Us” messages should be of fairly equal value (this is based on Fair-Exchange Concepts. You’ve read my work on Fair-Exchange Concepts, haven’t you?). Here the comment author’s variance between trust messages is just shy of being non-consciously recognizable, meaning readers may get a sense the author is asking to be trusted (message 2) rather than being found trustworthy. What’s worse is that the comparative intensity of the some of the other messages will probably drown out any “trust” messages being sent unless the audience specifically looks for them. This “looking for a message” can occur when the author is very well known to an audience and they’ve come to expect and often desire the variance in message strength.

<FYI>

This image is another version of our TargetTrack tool report. This was a 50 page report produced when a client gave us a brochure for analysis. You’ll notice the 10 “Must” Messaging reports in the lower left corner.
</FYI>

An interesting aspect of the human brain-mind system is that it allows different signal sources to supply similar signals differently. This means someone could be browsing a site while sitting on their backporch (as I am as I write this) and the brain-mind keeps separate shouting from the website and shouting from the woods behind my home. The brain-mind quite easily determines which of these two should get priority attention and they’ll rarely overlap (I’ll rarely have to struggle deciding which one I want to pay attention to. The woods always wins).

However, two competing websites? Or two equally attractive birds sitting in the pines in front of me? So what we often tell clients is that it’s nice to get a reasonable score when analyzing just your own stuff, it’s better to know how well it does against the averages of competitors. This image shows just such a comparison, specifically one company’s “We Trust You” message against all competitive companies’ “We Trust You” messages in our system. What we learned was that a visitor moving between websites — the client’s and their competitors — would feel more trusted hence more at ease hence willing to do business on competitor sites than on the client’s site. Why? Because most competitor sites were communicating “We Trust You” better and just enough better to be noticed, not to make the visitor feel they were being shouted at.

The aggregate degree of affinity between a person (brand) and a social network or contained in the message. (already in TargetTrack)

This is handled by the “We’re/I’m Good People”, “You’re Good People” and “They’re Not Good People” messages. As before, the goal is to have the messages work well together, not stand out on their own. The ideal is to have “We’re/I’m Good People” communicated with just a little less intensity than “You’re Good People”, as in a demonstration of humility followed by a recognition of another’s worth or value (as a person). The “They’re Not Good People” — the message about your competitors — is the one where some definite increase in intensity is allowed. Not a shout so much as a definite statement.

<Anecdote>
We did a comparison analysis a number of years back for Fidelity. They asked for a comparison of their mutual funds product path (the path that must be navigated from a landing page through a conversion) against five competitors (Merrill Lynch, TRowePrice, Schwab, Vanguard and SmithBarney). All of their messaging was quite comparable until you got to “They’re Not Good People” and “We’re/I’m A Leader”. Basically all of their product paths were communicating We/I Trust You…We/I Can Help…You’re Good PeopleTHOSE OTHER PEOPLE ARE LYING, CHEATING BASTARDS! STAY AWAY FROM THEM IF YOU VALUE YOUR LIFE AND THE LIVES OF YOUR CHILDRENAND WE’RE FREAKIN’ INCREDIBLE.

This needs to be compared to Canadian based companies where the laws are different. Canadian companies can’t openly communicate that their competitors are pooty. Comparisons between companies in verticals there tended to yield results along the lines of We/I Trust You…We/I Can Help…You’re Good People…They’re Not Good People…AND WE’RE FREAKIN’ INCREDIBLE.

Learning the differences in cultures is one of the reasons I love my work.
</Anecdote>

The intent behind a comment (author intent) (Referral: I like this, you’re a friend, you will like this too. Check it out. :: Retribution: You piss me off. I’m telling everybody to avoid you. :: Love: I just want to say how great you guys are. :: Constructive: I like you, this is what I want now. Troll:: I don’t really feel anything towards you, I’m bored and I want to be entertained.) (already in TargetTrack)

One of the things TargetTrack reports on (one of the original core functions, actually) are “hidden” messages. This is documented in several places and you don’t really care about psychobabble at this point, do you? How about some marketingbabble instead, “TargetTrack reporting also scans media content for subtext and hidden messages and creates a unique Key Marketing Messages report which determines how marketing materials communicate value by scanning for content and design features which most effectively denote trust, professionalism, helpfulness and leadership to consumers.

An example of a hidden message that was costing companies money can be found in Site-Penetration Up 225%, Time-On-Site Up 300%, Conversions Up 20% in Four Months. There are other examples where the designer didn’t like the company they were working for, didn’t feel they were appreciated, didn’t feel the project they were on was worthy of their talent and skills and each time their negativity was non-consciously embedded in the work they were doing, each time non-consciously picked up by the audience and each time costing the unsuspecting client time and money.

Some other messages TargetTrack found in marketing material include “Don’t Mess with Me” (perhaps that’s Chris’ “Retribution”), “I’m Different From Every Other Person I Know” and “I can make a career here for myself because nobody else knows what they’re doing here” (a law firm asked us to evaluate resumes using TargetTrack (we actually analyze resumes for lots of companies and how we do it is an example of the TargetTrack tool being used to create another tool, our ResumeReader)).

While I’m disinclined to suggest any hidden messages on this page, I am left wondering how comfortable the author is either Twittering, in their current position or how long they’ve been in their current position.

Hmm…Rene was telling me that several people have approached him about starting a company wherein ET analyzes funds and stocks based on its predictive ability (see Predicting Election Outcomes Via NextStage’s TargetTrack and Working with Prediction Markets via NextStage’s Evolution Technology)…and now lots of CEOs are blogging, twittering…hmm…

You know, several companies have asked us to read through the materials submitted by potential employees, not just their resumes, to get an idea of how well these individuals would fit in…so if we use our ResumeReader tool on this page…

This job applicant’s ability to help and their reliability may cause challenges depending on their position in the company. However, they will work very well with others and require next to no supervision. The juxtaposition of the Ability to Help, Works Well with Others, Requires Little Supervision and Reliable values indicates this applicant will work better in group or cooperative work environments than as an outsider and should not be considered for “work at home” or “remote office” situations. Trustworthiness is acceptable and the Competent value indicates they will probably grow into their job in a minimal period of time.

<Anecdote>
NextStage’s ResumeReader tool passed initial muster when we opened our Toronto offices. Our CEO (at that time) told me he was using TargetTrack to evaluate the resumes of programmers. We were in the conference room and he was synchronizing his laptop to the projector so things were flashing in and out on the screen. He mentioned one fellow in particular and a TargetTrack’s analysis flashed on and off. I knew nothing about the fellow we were discussing, his history, had never read his resume, only glanced at the TargetTrack results for a moment and said, “Well, that resume was written about two years ago and the fellow was very unsure of his future at the time. He was between jobs and trying to figure out what to do with himself.”

Our CEO stared at me. “That’s the report on my resume,” he told me. “The one I wrote two years ago when I’d just sold my first company and was trying to decide what to do with my life.”

Budda-boom.

<FYI>

And you, too, can have that facility with TargetTrack reports. All it takes is a little training…
</FYI>

Two senior people from a large jobsite, starts with an “M”, wanted to use our ResumeReader as part of their offering. During talks, it came out that they wanted to create a company that would sell this service to “M”. And they didn’t want “M” to know about any of our discussions until it was already a done deal. And they wanted all the rights. But don’t let “M” know about any of this. Ever. And they were greedy. Oh, were they greedy. You should have seen their eyes glaze over and heard their cackling laughter when they talked about charging “M” then offering slightly different versions of the ResumeReader tool to “M”‘s competitors.

We said “no.” Okay, I said “no”.

I’m told some people read the bottom of our homepage and consider it rude, that I’m basically saying “…if you’re not willing to put money upfront (and not a little money) don’t bother me.” [[They’d really love the one we’re using now (Susan’s design).]]

Well, that’s correct although not because I’m greedy or money-hungry. Frugal, yes, greedy or money-hungry though? Have you read our Principles? I am greedy with my time, that I’ll grant, and I do recognize posting our prices is the equivalent of “You have to be this tall to get on this ride”.

It’s also a block to certain kinds of people. Look through those Principles and you’ll see several ways to alter the prices we charge. Lots of people do. There are lots of ways to be tall and not everyone is willing to stretch. As I wrote, those prices are a block and only to certain kinds of people.

Sometime when we’re at a conference ask me to talk about cultural and social taboos, such as the taboo against discussing money but lack of taboos around discussing financial matters within certain groups and cultures. It plays a lot in designing culture and group specific information.

Or you can take one of our trainings as we often cover the same material there.

But greedy versus frugal? Moi? (Stephane loves my Frenglish)

True story: Someone said they’d help NextStage with marketing “for only 20% of the company”. I asked “Can you prove you’re worth it?” and they couldn’t. I don’t mean they couldn’t prove it to my satisfaction, I mean they couldn’t prove it, period. Nor could they demonstrate it. Anywhere. So I said “No thanks.”

Had they been able to prove their worth at all, I would have considered their offer. As it was, I would call them greedy. I would not call them greedy if they could have proved their worth, but do so because they could not. I would call myself frugal. I don’t accept someone telling me their worth without a demonstration of same, but once they demonstrate it? They can fail, all they need do is demonstrate the effort and my world is theirs.

You really should read those Principles.
</Anecdote>

Specific to Chris’s list and only comparing the values against themselves, we find that the strongest non-conscious intent is retribution. However, the relative strengths of Referral, Retribution and Constructive indicate that such non-conscious messaging is probably part of the author’s psychological makeup and nothing specific to these posts. This is where a helpful exercise is comparing this author’s material against similar material elsewhere, such as a competitor’s twittering or even the author’s own writing not contained in these twits.

I think what’s more important here is that if you can form what you want to know into a question or statement such as Chris did, ET can answer it. Most of the reports we provide are based on questions clients asked us, usually blue-skying their hearts out while doing so.

Is the comment “Positive”, “Negative”, or “Neutral” – accurate to within +/- 5%, 19/20. This is how most social vendors classify it. I don’t consider these numbers to be helpful, but they are ‘standard’. However, they tend to have a much higher rate of error. (3) is where it’s at. (already in TargetTrack…kind of…)

It’s one thing to be positive, negative or neutral in general, it’s a completely different thing to be positive, negative or neutral as defined by your target audience. The world may love you but if the people you want to do business with think ill of you, it doesn’t matter what the world thinks. Likewise, if your target audience thinks the world of you, do you care what opinions others may have?

And do we mean negative, positive or neutral to a specific person, some cultural or ethnic group, some product or service, government, …? TargetTrack can fine tune it’s answers based on what you want to know.

How accurate? It will be accurate to within 83% based on the author’s {C,B/e,M} matrix at the time of their writing. For those who haven’t seen my presentations, the {C,B/e,M} matrices are the Cognitive, Behavioral/effective, Motivational neurologic, psychologic and sociologic methodologies that people employ to get through their day (and usually without knowing they’re doing so). Someone who’s always upbeat has a different {C,B/e,M} matrix than someone who’s shy, for example. Someone from Espania has a different one than someone from Alba Nuadh. Discovering where these matrices overlap and how they overlap is the key to cross-cultural marketing even when the cross-cultural aspect is just NH versus Tennessee and so on.

What I will offer is that this question is best answered by a combination of TargetTrack and our tracking tool (yep, the one Rene mentioned). It’s often fun to match an author’s intent with the readers’ perception of that intent. Doing this requires our tracking tag be on your site/blog/whatever. Interesting things can come out from that kind of study.

For example, if we learn than an author is habitually more negative than positive in their discourse AND we know that readers’ level of interest peaks during those periods, then escriva negativa, my lad.

{C, B/e, M} profile of the author of a comment or blog post. (already in TargetTrack)

Click on the above TargetTrack examples and you’ll see that much of the {C,B/e,M} matrix information is included as statements about gender, age (yes, I know. Gender and Age again. And since 2001. Who knew?), so on and so forth. We can include as much or as little of the {C,B/e,M} matrix information as you want.

This, for example, is an analysis of some marketing material that’s well designed to appeal to what we recognize as a K13 Rich Persona. I’ve written about Rich Persona on this blog, on iMediaConnection, lots of different places. What’s a Rich Persona? It’s the heart, gut and mind of the persona you create during your marketing discussions. Doesn’t matter if you create “Jeep Driver Joe” or “Soccer Mom Sally” or anything else, you’re simply creating a true fiction with no basis in reality other than your own machinations until you imbue that persona with dreams, desires, pains, pleasures, hopes, anxieties, desperations, relationship problems, and most importantly ways they would deal with all of these things, how they think about them, how they would respond to them, what and how they would ignore them and so on. Put all that together and your persona is now Rich.

People who saw my eMetrics Toronto ’08 presentation may remember that I shared how the {C,B/e,M} matrices for different parts of Canada were shifting over time. This happens all the time and translates to “Keep your materials fresh because what works today might not work tomorrow.”

And before I forget, this author is demonstrating an A9 {C,B/e,M} matrix or Rich Persona. Their material will most strongly influence readers who:

  • make decisions based on what might go wrong

  • learn best when what they’re learning can be directly applied to a harmful or painful possible future event
  • often seem mentally absorbed
  • often seem to loose focus on what’s going on around them
  • engage in internal dialogue (usually in the form of self-directed statements) in order to make decisions
  • will listen to others’ advice only if the advice has a negative form (“Oh, you don’t want to do that because…” “There’ll be problems with that because…”)
  • focus on the negative
  • are motivated to take action by arguments and/or explanations which cast things in a poor or bad light
  • pay more attention to what’s not working when evaluating situations
  • often need to confirm their beliefs (whether valid or not) with visual information

  • will only accept visual confirmation if what they are shown confirms the problem rather than the solution
  • base final decisions on anticipated problems or errors in their or other peoples’ judgements
  • pay little attention to what’s going on right now when making final decisions
  • are strongly influenced by the possibility of pain or difficulties down the road (although they will not intentionally seek pain or difficulties out they are still sure the pain and difficulties exist and are waiting “to greet them”)
  • will ignore any difficulty or pain they’re presently in if a future pain or difficulty is inferred, threatened, demonstrated or explained

  • ignore emotional appeals unless the appeal takes the form of a conversation or lecture in which a worse or negative outcome is defined or identified
  • demonstrate that a conclusion has been reached or something has been learned by some small, outward sign or motion, such as a slight or single nodding or shaking of the head, a slight clenching of the hands or movement of the fingers, or a slow, deep breath.

No wonder their writing showed up as slightly negative, huh?

Anyway, this {C,B/e,M} matrix information can be for the author, the audience, let us know when you ask for a TargetTrack (depends on which one you ask for) and we’ll provide the information for you.

For example, a law firm gave us an ad to analyze along with some responses from different people to that ad (this is documented in Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History. TargetTrack could individualize gender, age, geographic location and job description of the respondents by analyzing their responses.

But really, how useful is knowing this unless you know how to design for whatever {C,B/e,M} matrix information and Rich Personae your dealing with (and did I mention we offer trainings on just that)? Some of these images contain suggestions for improving audience (oh, dare I say it?) engagement, attention to, interaction with, whatever the buzzword de jour is, with your material.

Suggestions are included in all our TargetTrack products. That was one of the first things TargetTrack was designed to do, provide direct, actionable suggestions on how to get your material into the hearts and minds of your target audience as quickly and as economically as possible.

I mean, all these TargetTrack reports may or may not be pretty and (according to Rene) aren’t even sexy but who cares if you don’t have real, you can do it, actionable items provided with your report? You’re just shooting in the wind if you don’t, right?

So we give suggestions, to-do’s, action items, call them what you will, and in some cases listed in Critical, Important and Desirable order.

The likelihood that the message will have the desired intent on those who read it. (already in TargetTrack…kind of…)

We can determine what an author’s desires regarding their audience response are via TargetTrack alone.

To know if the desired intent is actually being realized while people are reading the material requires our web tracking tool.

The likelihood that the message will have the desired intent based on psychographic distance from the author. (already in TargetTrack…kind of…)

See above.

The ability for the tool to return a CSV (or some other file) listing the social graph of the {C, B/e, M} profiles in relationship to each other within a specific tribe, in general, for the purposes of segmenting discussions based on expert areas. (Testing the 1957 “Word-of-Mouth” studies and the whole air conditioning patterns for new product introductions.) (already in TargetTrack)

Compare the above Quebec Thought Progressions with this chart from that same eMetrics Toronto ’08 presentation, this one for all of Canada or the one below for British Columbia, all during the same three month time period. These are actually from our Personae Mapping Tool, yet another variation of ET and TargetTrack (there’s that “using tools to make tools” thing again, @jdaysy).

Anywho, these are graphs of the {C,B/e,M} matrices within different tribes and groups within those tribes. ET can do this for whatever you describe; areas of expertise, geographic locations, ethnic factors, language of origin, …

The likelihood that the message will be remembered or committed to memory. (Goes to that damned traditional metric: message recall. I don’t think that conscious recall is nearly as important than sub-conscious recall, but I’ll admit being wrong if shown evidence to the contrary.)(already in TargetTrack…kind of…)

This is another one that requires our tracking tool be on your site.

ET’s original function was to make sure educational material was being delivered optimally for each student, hence it would modify my class material on the fly based on how individual students were navigating the site in order to match the {C,B/e,M} matrix of the material to the {C,B/e,M} matrix of each student (the original NSE site did this in real time for each visitor. There are examples in the “Anecdotes of Learning” section of Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History and referenced above in that lawyer segment). The reason to do this was to insure that the material would be both committed to deep or long-term memory AND be immediately actionable in consciousness.

Yes, actionable, as in “they can and will be able to use and act upon the information” right now.

Remeber and Use, Branding, etc.

And while I’m here, let me offer something that (I believe) is a demonstration of “going one better”. I gave a presentation to the Boston KM Forum in Aug ’06 entitled “Increasing Knowledge Transfer By Adapting Information Presentation Styles On the Fly”. Wordy, I know, and the third slide in that presentation is relevant to this discussion in so many ways. Item #5 on that slide is “Cognition, retention, etc., went high”. That’s how people in my field talk about “branding, engagement, usability, understandability,…” things like that.

The end result was that people were able to remember material as content three times longer, in context seven times longer and be able to utilize that information (ie, “work with it”) ten times longer.

Consider this a “two-fer”. We can recognize and adjust content on the fly for specific “tribes” and deliver targeted messaging by recognizing a tribe then customizing that message so that only the tribe remembers and can use it.

The gender and age of the author of a comment or blog post. (already in TargetTrack)

Read all of the above again (you didn’t skip anything, did you?). Go ahead. I dare you.

The gender and age of the composition of the social network observing the comment or blog post. [Tribe analysis]. (already in TargetTrack…kind of…)

There are two ways to answer this. I’ll start with the part that is “…kind of…”. To determine all visitors would require the tracking tool on your site. We could do it with just TargetTrack for people commenting and do some creative mathematics to guesstulate the entire audience composition. It would be easier and cheaper to use our tracking tool and just have it report the network’s composition.

Or we can answer “Who is this material best suited for?” That’s a pure TargetTrack question as I’ll demonstrate below.

Age appeal for the comments only

“Who is this material is best suited/designed for?” is where differences between just the content and the webpage — graphics, fonts, etc., and content — demonstrate great differences. They make differences everywhere, here they are very pronounced. This chart is from TargetTrack analyzing just the comment stream and determining “What age group is this material is best suited/designed for?”. No graphics, no images, no colors, no fonts, no backgrounds, only the pure text. Forget that there are three lines for now, just remember that this is TargetTrack’s analysis of the comment text only.

This image is TargetTrack analyzing the entirety of the page — graphics, colors, images, fonts, the whole shooting match. See that the yellow line is near flat on this chart? That’s an indication that the introduction of the images, graphics, colors, fonts, etc., etc., etc., are a major distraction to visitors both understanding and using the information presented.

And now, a little more ET Trainings and what are those three lines for again, Joseph?

In the charts above, the red bars are Appeal, the yellow bars are message Clarity and the green bars are message Actionability. Both position on the chart, height and positional relation to each other are extremely important. NextStage’s TargetTrack uses three items because Age is demonstrated by multiple intelligences, ie,

  • the visual intelligence that governs whether or not something will Appeal to a specific Age group,
  • the cognitive intelligence that governs whether or not something will be understandable (Clarity) to a specific Age group and
  • the psychosensory intelligence that governs whether or not something will be Actionable(ity) to a specific Age group

If you wanted, you could group them all together into a single Age metric but you’d lose a great deal of actionable information by doing so.

The point at which each line intersects an age group is an indication of how much of that specific age group is captured. The “just the comments” chart above, for example, indicates that just the comments on the page being analyzed would appeal (red line) to (ie, “get the attention of”) 55% of the 45-54yo market, about 28% of the 35-44 and 55-59yo markets and so on.

The next line of interest is Clarity (ie, “is this understandable?”). The human mind likes to understand things, too clearly see what things are about. But you don’t want people to work for it when you’re selling them something, at least not too hard. This means you want Clarity to target a slightly younger age group that the material appeals to. In other words, you want to get their attention then have them easily understand it, this Clarity (yellow) needs to be a little to the left of the Appeal (red) line.

Now you have to look at Actionability (green). You got their attention (red), they understand your value proposition (yellow), now they must act on that understanding. You want the green line to be just to the right of the red line because people will only act when they recognize value, hence must “reach” and that “reach” and value is detected as requiring slightly more neural effort than both Appeal and Clarity.

Thus the ideal is that the relational position of the lines be Clarity, Appeal, Actionability (yellow, red, green). Further, you want the Appeal (red) to be the highest peak while Clarity (yellow) and Actionability (green) can be even or Actionability just a little higher than Clarity (yellow). Again, this is that “you want them to reach” thing.

Appeal (red) governs whether or not your target audience would give this page a second look, that something on the page would catch their attention and make them stop for a moment or two before going onto something else. In many cases, a well crafted webpage (email, tv ad, radio spot, report, etc) for a given audience would cause them to stop, period, and spend time interacting with the material.

The question about what’s good or bad message Clarity (yellow) has to do with the intended age group for the material. Being understandable by a younger audience is both good and bad. A complex subject written to be clear to a young audience must perforce leave out some of the more complex elements of that subject. A mature audience interacting with the material might consider the material overly simplistic and determine the material incomplete or in error. The goal is to craft material with a Clarity peak close to the target age group.

Actionability (green) measures the amount of education, life experience or maturity required to make use of the information and understand the meaning as opposed to understanding the words (which is what Clarity measures). The phrase, “The true cost of a car’s easy drivability is paid by the consumer” is easy to read but it (probably) takes some life experience to appreciate that as cars have become easier to drive the number of people driving has increased, the amount of training available and skill required to drive has decreased, more accidents occur, the cost of insurance climbs, fuel costs rise due to increased demand, … Making the automobile accessible to the masses may not have served the masses well, necessarily.

You can read more about this at Websites: You’ve Only Got 3 Seconds.

Gender. Yes, we do gender. You really want me to go into details?

The purchase / re-purchase intent of the author. (already in TargetTrack)

It’s in the complete {C,B/e,M} matrix information that we provide clients.

Identification of who, within a social network, is an influencer, a gatekeeper, or a hub. (IE. Identification of who should I talk to first to get movement on a message.) (already in TargetTrack…kind of…)

Depending on what you mean, this is already in TargetTrack or requires TargetTrack plus our tracking tool. I presented The Blogging Power Continuum: How Bloggers and Their Audience Share and Assign Power in a Knowledge-Based Medium at a SNCR conference in both Boston (Dec ’07), “Whispering to Be Heard: The Art and Science of Buzz Marketing” at the New Communications Forum 2008 in Apr 08 and a variation of the Boston presentation in Montreal at the Communicating for Social Impact, International Communications Association Conference 2008 in May ’08. One of the things that I shared was the research into how to recognize influencers and such, how to gain control of blogs, direct them, all sorts of stuff. Perhaps some conference organizer who’s reading this might smile upon me and invite me to present this information at their conference…

Suggestions based on the {C, B/e, M} profile, of how to frame a message. (already in TargetTrack)

I think I’ve exhausted this particular item, yes? Again, if you skipped things, you shouldn’t have as I covered this above.

We do give suggestions for doing this. Depending on what level of TargetTrack you want, these suggestions can be just a few items or several pages long.

Breakdown of conversations based on topic area. (already in TargetTrack)

You tell us how you want it sliced and diced, TargetTrack will report on it.

So, Chris, not one unreasonable thing in the bunch.

I mentioned to Chris that I doubted he could come up with something we hadn’t done already. Remember, NextStage’s tools were doing these things back in 2001 as “tools” and before that as pure technology. The things we’re doing now…?

…pant, pant, pant…thank goodness. Two days of writing. Done. Finito. yea for joey…

Stephane, I’ll get to canoe.ca soon, I promise.


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