[Noisebridge-discuss] [hackerdojo] The new rules of persuasion

Stig Hackvan stig at monkeyB.org
Sun Jan 16 01:03:22 UTC 2011

On Sat, Jan 15, 2011 at 10:55 AM, Christopher Rasch <crasch at gmail.com>wrote:

> An interesting article on how to build apps / devices designed for behavior
> change:
> http://www.thersa.org/fellowship/journal/archive/summer-2009/features/new-rules-of-persuasion
> From Stanford's Persuasive Tech lab:
> http://captology.stanford.edu/projects/behavior-wizard-2.html
> Chris

Thanks...  bjfogg's old ee380 "captology" talk is probably online as well...
 I'm kinda thinkin' that we ought to do an applied science fiction & social
engineering book group and his stuff is on my short list...

Oh, and...


*Every day, computers are making people easier to use*

Sit down. Put your feet up. Take a load off. Ahh, technology. Isn't that
better? Its promise has long been freedom from drudgery, toil and ignorance.
But a funny thing happened on the way to techno-utopia- the machines got the
upper hand.

Optimism has given way to optimization: the shortest path, the fastest
response, the fewest buttons to press to get to your voice mail. This
hyper-efficiency is our god: but does our mad drive to make things faster
have a higher purpose?

It was supposed to free us to be creative, to spend more time with friends
and family. Instead, the spread of technology has freed us from our
inability to send a fax from the beach. The myth of leisure is fading; there
is no slowdown in sight. The speed of life demands more speed.

How enlightened.

Looking at it all from the inside, where we work with the latest gadgets
every day, we've decided to bring our darkest fears to light. Why? Because
the most visible critic of the high-speed technological age is a mad bomber
with a bad haircut. Why? Because the magazine hailed as the guiding light of
the digital age fetishizes high-tech the way Road & Track and Penthouse
fetishize cars and chicks. Why? Because we can't remember the last time we
heard a politician offer an intelligent critique of the information age.
Remember, citizens, progress is not subject to political debate; it's, uh,
like evolution, a force of nature.

We got what we asked for*

Human judgment is being outsourced to computer systems. Uniformity (ahem,
"economy of scale") has all but crushed the family farm, the local
newspaper, the mom-and-pop store, the regional dialect.

Do you smell something? A whiff of apocalypse is in the air. Perhaps it's
the bad breath of government, corporations and libertarian ex-hippies who
have joined forces to lead the cheers: "Digital revolution!" "Virtual
communities!" "Third wave!" "Global village!" Feel queasy yet? Here at In
Formation, we're feverishly clutching our air-sick bags, but we can't get
off the plane. We can't even loosen our seatbelts.

To its pimps and apologists, technology has the force of necessity behind
it, inexorable and unstoppable. Technology is progress, progress is change,
change is good, om, om, om, the mesmerizing mantra drones on. The
words"technology," "progress," "change," "good"- have become
interchangeable. In the rare event that these assumptions are questioned,
when the role of high-tech in our eight-cylinder, 300 MHz capitalism is
scrutinized, the critics are labeled "reactionary," "dinosaur," "socialist"
or "Luddite."

We have a confession to make. We actually like some of the things the new
technologies can do. Computers and modems and shiny satellites certainly
have their appeal. We would not have been drawn to create and write about
new technology in the first place if it were utterly without merit. These
new tools can create opportunities, establish lines of communication, and
foster certain kinds of creativity. We acknowledge these benefits. But so
does everyone else. And very few people with a public voice-namely
politicians and the media- want to discuss the underlying insanity of this
third-wave information age. But we do. Oh, you bet we do.

The millennium is upon us

Maybe our profound skepticism is just a numerological virus. The approach of
the millennium is a magnet for gloomy conspiratorial paranoia. Plagues,
locusts, floods, and black helicopters: Why should our predictions of
technological doom be any more credible?

While the cyber-visionaries rhapsodize about the unlimited possibilities of
cryogenically frozen brain stems, digitized "Waterlilies" on the apartment
walls, and sensorially enhanced cybersex, your employers have been busy
installing security cameras in the bathroom and tracking the number of words
per minute you key
intoensurethehighestqualitypossiblewiththeminimumdisruption. Oh. Sorry.

We're constantly being dazzled by 30-second samples of the near future ("You
will"), but the "future" of technology is already here, in the form of a
society increasingly plugged into and monitored by machines.

The millennium is at hand. The high-tech future we ordered has arrived on
schedule; too bad it didn't come with the glossy utopia advertised in the

Take two of these and get back to work

Human workers can be so inefficient. We smoke cigarettes, we forward chain
letters, we read the paper on the john, we decorate our computer screens
with flying toasters. No wonder the wheels of profit turn ever increasingly
toward mechanization. Come on, you've seen the ads-business can't wait! The
competition is sending faxes to Tokyo and you're sitting with your thumb up
your ass because you can't figure out how to transfer incoming calls! How
many minutes per minute are you using? Only 2.3? What's your problem? No,
don't answer that question- you're fired! Your call is now being answered by
an automated voice response system.

We're also inefficient in our houses and schools. For this, technological
modification of the inadequate human comes in little pills, too. Johnny
can't sit still at his school desk for six hours a day? Give the little
rascal a Ritalin. Or a Prozac. Ahh, technology. No need to talk things over;
no need to change your environment or your life; it's easier to change your
personality. The message is increasingly clear: Get in formation and do as
we say, no matter how much your conscience rebels.

Here at In Formation, we see all these technologies, drugs, consumer
pacifications and plastifications molding modern society into a perfect
crystalline structure, free of the friction that comes from genuine human
experience-no fuss, no muss- able to absorb monkey wrenches and Unabombers,
able to humiliate its detractors, or even worse, throw money at them until
they surrender. This emerging structure is a body and each of us is a cell,
bound in a net of necessity to the other cells and organs, and unable to
survive without being embedded in the body and receiving its control

We're not with the program. Sign us up as the first cancer cells.

—David Temkin and Alex Lash
*this came from http://www.informationmag.com/ which seems to have had only
two issues and may not go anywhere, but has online copies of it's articles*
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