Saturday, November 25, 2006

Captology is Technological Magick

First I was asked if I was paying for the class. I asked why this was important. It was explained to me that if I was paying a teacher through a non-accredited program, the class couldn’t count.

Poor saps have monopolozed education and information for so long that they are driving the cutting edge out of their academic reach.

"hegemonic influence" is Ben's way of saying mind controling vampire slave lords...pretending to be the gaurdians of society....don't forger that sickening smile they love to wear...a thin mask over thier putrid judgemental control scowl.

This backlights a converstaion we are having at Frequency 23 (Google it if you don't alrady have it bookmarked...and if you don't have it book sure to put it on your daily scan list...this fuckingshitworks!) that Lawful Evil and Lawful Good have a lot in common.


This paper will explain how using Captology Tom Long became The Ten-Million-Dollar-Man, allowing him to ethically make more money than he believed he could, say goodbye to his salaried job and live a life full of the joy of helping others.

Captology may provide the firmest path to balancing the world’s hegemonic influence yet conceived. Captology is disseminating a vocabulary that illuminates persuasion to a broader audience. In the wake of this knowledge we will see major ripples in our social infrastructure, perhaps recreating, at least impacting, the role of the dominant elite. My hope is that the dominant elite becomes a kinder, gentler world force. Focusing on sustainability will help ease the transition into whatever new popular ken we find ourselves evolving as we more fully adopt computer technology.

In the recent past, simply discussing good for all mankind could have been labeled as Communistic, Socialistic or some other demonized label that can evaporate both financial and kindred support. Now is a special time of support for using technology for mass good. Additionally, as society incorporates more and more computers, the role of computers in persuasive technology is certainly worthy of discussion. Even more worthy of consideration is how we can leverage this new capability for global sustainability. Positive future possibilities are discussed in Human Computer Interaction and Utopian Studies conferences. Detailing positive steps to these ends is important. Captology helps contemporize and focus the field of persuasion.

Persuasive ’07 gives voice and forum to a discussion of persuasion while broadening the base of those studying persuasive technologies, especially those using these technologies to help humanity. Historically, persuasion has generally only been studied by those who sought to make more money or control more people. In 2006, Amazon lists 28 books published on persuasion or influence. To put that in perspective, in the 1980s, a total of 8 books on persuasion and influence were published. Persuasion is a more popular topic than ever before. Effective applications of Captology may expedite Rotary Club International’s goal of drinkable water for every human on Earth, more easily facilitate a global engagement of humanitarian concerns and decentralize news reporting.

Persuasion is being taught through home computers via the Internet. Micro sites like The Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab’s and Blair Warren’s shed revelatory light on persuasive technology through their teachings. Easy access to their insights is breeds a more media-literate user. simplifies and easily demonstrates many academic constructs, such as the role of character-based narratives or recursivity in specific persuasive technology. In a less formal way, details tactics of applied persuasion.

More visited sites that teach Captology include Mark Joyner’s Tellman Knudson’s and Michelle Fortin’s A distinction can easily be drawn between Joyner’s Simpleology that is intentionally persuasive to educate visitors on personal sustainability versus Knudson’s and Fortin’s sites that teach tactics of online persuasion as a means to help their visitors better persuade broader audiences. Furthermore, we can find sites like Vivian Glyck’s where she uses techniques of Captology to raise over $30,000 for an African hospital and both increased the sustainability of the hospital and the lives of those who depend on its services. Who else knows a non-profit that could use $30,000 in fundraising?

Techniques articulated in Captology may be leveraged for both personal and societal sustainability. However, I question the sustainability of Captology as a field of study. Is Captology an academic discipline or just a relative label like criminology? Imagine a Nazi criminologist seeking to understand non-compliance. She began with the terministic-screen that law-breakers are wrong. Today, we would be more likely to study her notes either in psychology, anthropology, or social studies rather than in criminology. The notes of a Nazi Criminologist might better reflect the strategies of hegemonic resistance than a taxonomy of law breakers. Is Captology an inter-disciplinary discourse, or a subset of a study such as rhetorical analysis, information ecology, media studies, or human-computer-interaction?

Computers As Persuasive Technology is a broad subject, begging a definition of persuasive technology. Compounded in the notion or persuasive technology is our ability to identify persuasion. What if persuasion that looks like persuasion is really third-rate persuasion? With what certainty can we identify persuasive technology? If state-of-the-art persuasion is invisible to us, then what is it we’re studying?

A similar problem confronts criminology:

“However, for as long as criminology has been a field of study, it has always been haunted by the theory of ‘the competent criminal.’ For obvious reasons criminologists (and psychologists and socialogists, etc.) only study failed criminals—that is, those persons whose criminal acts led to their conviction and to punishment. If there is a group of people out there who commit crimes and are not caught and live happily ever after, then criminology is not a study of criminals but of incompetents, bumblers, fuckups and should instead be called fuckupology.”
--Larry Beinhart, Wag The Dog pg xxx

From a memetic perspective, the greatest threat to the survival of Captology is over-specialization. Evolution has shown us that isolated species that evolve a fit to a specific mirco-environment often don’t survive relative minor changes to their environment. Captology shows evidence of evolving away from both academia’s rhetorical analysis and academia’s advertising research, and even further away from influence as studied by practitioners of online persuasion. As the language of Captology becomes increasingly incompatible with other studies of influence, the insular effect may prove grave.

In preparation for writing this paper, I conducted six depth interviews among non-academic experts in online persuasion. None of the six were familiar with the term Captology. When I asked what key fundamentals they expected to be taught through Captology, all six expected Robert Cialdini to hold a central role. Five expected xxx’s Scientific Advertising to be a seminal book. Four expected the Zeigarnik Effect to be prominently discussed. What I found through Google Scholar is minimal overlap between scholarly references of Captology and Robert Cialdini and zero overlaps to Captology and either Scientific Advertising or the work of Dr. Bluma Zeigarnik.

Furthermore, for the sake of sustainability, I propose the acronym CAPT be changed from computers as persuasion technology to computer-aided persuasion technology. This change not only mirrors the pre-existing Consumer Research acronym CATI, computer-aided telephone interviewing, but also more accurately reflects the concerns of this discipline, the use of computers for intentional persuasion. However, the current acronym works well from an information ecology perspective, aligning Captology with a McLuhanian media ecology perspective. From the current acronym it is easy to discuss computers as a mechanism contributing to the ongoing production of culture, but this reading of Captology doesn’t appear aligned with the work of the field.

On the one hand, the study of computers as persuasion technology can be read as suggesting the existence of non-persuasive technology, or at least technology whose existence is at times inconsequential. This precept is challengeable. Within academia, Mathematicians label The Butterfly Effect as describing the phenomenon of an unknown minute catalyst transforming a system from one ordering system into another that is scientifically notated using a radically different schematic. Outside academia, some New Age rhetors describe The Gaia Theory as Earth as a living organism in The Universe where all matter is energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, so nothing is outside of us and everything is an essential component. Both cosmographies challenge inconsequentiality.

On the other hand, the study of computers as persuasion technology can be read as the study of the affect of computer technology on culture. Some of the most suasive effects of computers happen in the absence of computers, more specifically, because populations don’t have equal access to appropriate computers. For instance, when rug manufacturers began programming their weaving machines, creating some of the earliest computers, mass production efficiencies brought down the average price of rugs in the late 19th Century. Weavers who wove their rugs by hand were persuaded to take less for their products than they had previously because buyers had less expensive alternatives produced by computer-aided technology. A comprehensive study of the impact of Computers As Persuasive Technology would include these ramifications, and brings us closer to general social studies.

At first glance, Computer-Aided Persuasive Technology may sound as though it were a subset of rhetorical analysis because Persuasion has traditionally fallen within academia’s Rhetorical Analysis. If this be the case, let’s pitch-in and buy Captology’s tombstone and inscribe the epitaph: “I told you I was sick.” Rhetorical analysis is like Latin, they both study dead languages. Sure, Latin is the study of the ancient dead while Rhetorical Analysis is the study of the recently dead. Dead? Yes, dead. Rhetorical Analysis is the study of extant texts, the corpses of live acts of persuasion. But dead in a biological way, also.

Rhetorical Analysis’ overspecialization has created an intellectual island that is drifting further and further away from mating with the most fertile ideas on persuasion. How can I assess the fertility of an idea? By how fast the meme is propagating. Media Studies includes coverage of popular ideas and constructs, also known as Pattern Integrities or Memeplexes. Rhetorical Analysis doesn’t appear to discern a difference between mimesis and memetics, nor distinguishing genetic mimicry from live mimicry, nor discerning mimicry from biological entrainment. If these dynamics are suasive, then unconsciously adopting physical gestures is systemically transformative, creating a form of dialectic on a biological level. In this case, simply using any computer, regardless of content, will affect our behavior, but persuasion doesn’t exist without intent. Just because gravity has an affect on me doesn’t make it persuasive.

An advantage Captology has over Rhetorical Analysis is in testing for what elements truly make something persuasive, confidently expanding the knowledge of persuasion through replicable quantitative research.. An advantage Captology has over many academic disciplines is the accessibility of testing. The fluid dynamic of online activity, allowing for not only more cost-effective testing than in any other medium, but for an environment where tests can be run without the need to label them as tests, thereby circumventing the need for human-test-subject approval. If Captology can leverage ongoing testing to create predictive constructs, then Captology has migrated itself from a soft science to a hard science.

I don’t mean to entirely dismiss Rhetorical Analysis. There are some very sharp tools to be found in Rhetorical Analysis, and Rhetorical Analysis has helped many academics construct persuasive arguments. However, the tools being created by non-academic teachings surely outshine attempts at applied Aristotlean rhetorical construction. Non-academic persuasive teachings tend to address a specific audience with a common persuasive goal. For instance Neal Strauss’ book The Game describes online communities set up to teach men how to persuade women to sleep with them. Another relatively large online community studying persuasion surrounds folks learning how to use computers as persuasive technology to aid their entrepreneurial efforts. Perhaps the largest group of online communities teaching forms of persuasion is activist sites seeking political change. Excluding the theories and tactics advanced by these groups would be like academic mathematicians excluding the developments of probability created around the analysis of mortality tables to aid in the pricing of insurance for the bright, wealthy men who took tea at Lloyds of London, back in the day. Insurance provided sustainability for small business owners which allowed for a redistribution of wealth that challenged the dominant elite of the time. The path to global sustainability may not be visible to us presently. Excluding contributors to our field because they aren’t like us will weaken the health of our field. For Captology to maximize its contribution to the field of persuasion, we must include the best and brightest ideas as quickly as possible.

How do we ascertain the state-of-the-art in persuasion, especially as it relates to computers? I can Google persuasion and see the results of their logarithms, or I can check on Amazon and see what’s selling there. However, if I had a vested interest in perpetuating a meme, e.g., Captology, I would employ common search engine optimization techniques, like producing an event that uses many of the key words I want to be associated with the meme I was promoting and asking colleagues to link to my page(s). Persuasive ’07 uses many of the tactics commonly employed by search engine optimization practitioners. Human Computer Interaction uses search engine optimization as a descriptor of spamming for monetization as it relates to boosting, hiding a cloaking.

However, many entrepreneurs employ search engine optimization tactics as means to increase the likelihood of sustainability for their micro ventures. Many have developed techniques that few would classify as spam in any taxonomy. Today, when I Google “persuasive,” comes up third. Is monetization the key distinction between the increased search results of Captology and the spamming tactics employed by an entrepreneur? Where can I learn about online persuasion techniques like search engine optimization, from non-academic persuasion teachers who often self-identify as Information Marketers.

The likelihood of Captology’s sustainability will likely be greatly increased by covering the techniques applied and taught in non-academic online persuasion communities. Coverage of these techniques would breathe vitality into this young discipline by introducing the technology of independent persuasion experts into academia.

I imagine some scholars arguing that bridging academia with independent persuasion experts would replicate academic Advertising Research. Formal Advertising Research investigates the efficacy, and paths for determining efficacies, of sponsoring mass media. Even when Advertising Research studies online advertising, they are only observing what they see through their screen of advertising. Some of the work of the greatest persuaders of the 20th Century is not studied in their filed. Edward Bernays, and the work he did for The United Fruit Company, his persuasion gets pushed over to “public relations” and Carl Rove’s work as a Direct Marketer is not encompassed by the academic study of advertising. Yet these men have wielded some of the greatest and most orchestrated forces yet known in subtle persuasion.

Independent is a key distinction above, because organizational structures look different without oversight. Oversight and gatekeeping are inherent in sponsored environments. While independent is a key distinction here, perhaps entrepreneurial is a better descriptor. Somebody independently wealthy may not have to conform to successful practices of sponsored environments, but nor do they need to create behaviors that lead to sustainable finances. Financially successful entrepreneurs are free of many institutional gatekeepers, and their methods have yielded systems that are, at least in the foreseeable future, sustainable. In order to create their sustainability, many of these business people have proven proficiency in utilizing technology persuasively. They were applied scientists who split test many elements of their websites. Often, the wider and more long-distanced their anticipatory strategy, the more successful they have become.

In 2005, John Reese had the first entrepreneurial million-dollar day, where a sole-practitioner launched a new product and persuaded enough folks to buy that he exceeded one-million-dollars in revenue. Since then, several solo-entrepreneurs have had million-dollar days. What do these online launches have in common? Jeff Walker helped strategize almost all of their online marketing plans, using recursivity and character based narratives to build and sustain interest in a new product launch. This coupled with an organization of joint-ventures and affiliate marketing made accessible via the Internet has turned several smart business people into multi-millionaires.

The common template, the Jeff Walker construct, is where an information marketer tells their story of how they first started making money at a specialized skill, often a form of computer-aided persuasive technology. The new product launch typically takes seven days in which the target audience grows to know the information marketer, not dissimilar from the lesson at node/159. However, Walker’s construct details an optimal cadence, quantity of events and subjects he’s found required to launch a successful new product. Recursivity is employed through the character based narrative of how this new product leverages previous skills to make possible what had previously been inaccessible. Every product sold in this construct comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee or 100% refund. How many brick & mortar retailers offer that kind of guarantee?

How well does this construct work? In 2006, Mike Long had a $10,000,000 launch using the Jeff Walker Product Launch Formula.

The influx of successful new entrepreneurs from this training is not replacing the vanishing middle-class in America, however, the audiences generated that are hungry to learn the nuances of media manipulation is not inconsequential. More and more, small bands of people will be able to create sustainable financing for themselves or the non-profits of their choice. The tools that used to be relegated to the wealthy and those controlling large budgets are now suddenly much more readily available.

Academia has shown me a bias against money. I have had a tutor in online persuasion for the past semester, Tellman Knudson. I met Tellman eighteen months ago when he was broke. In the last twelve months he has netted over six-million-dollars and every purchase has been backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee or a 100% refund. I was told that if this teacher worked in non-profit, I could study with him for credit, as a directed independent study class. First I was asked if I was paying for the class. I asked why this was important. It was explained to me that if I was paying a teacher through a non-accredited program, the class couldn’t count. I explained I wasn’t paying, not even a dime. The following week I was told no to my request for independent study because my outside teacher was using his skills for making money. In the mean time, I’ve learned how he has engineered squeeze pages with a 90%+ average opt-in, how he uses the following thank-you page to sell a wide variety of $97 digital products and how he constructs down-sells and up-sells to maximize his profitability. Armed with this knowledge, I can see myself as financially sustainable, able to leave my dependence on academic sponsorship. This newfound confidence and independence inspires me to teach others computer-aided persuasive technology.

At minimum, I have deeper understanding and broader overview of persuasion. As Blair Warren teaches in his One-Sentence-Persuasion: “People will follow you anywhere to the extent you encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears and help them throw rocks at their enemies.”

Bal, M. (1985). Narratology: Introduction to the theory of narrative (c. van Bohhmen, Trans.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Berdichevsky, D; Neuenschwander, E. (1999).Toward an ethics of persuasive technology; Communications of the ACM. Volume 42 , Issue 5, 51 – 58. New York, NY: ACM Press

Berger, A. A. (1997). Narratives in popular culture, media, and everyday life. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Carpenter, R. H. (1995). History as rhetoric: Style, narrative, and persuasion. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

Condit, C. M. (1987). Crafting virtue: The rhetorical construction of public morality. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 73, 79-97.

Fogg, B. J. (1999). Persuasive Technologies: Communications of the ACM.

Fogg, B. J. (2002). Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do. Morgan Kaufmann Press

Fogg, B. J.; Tseng, H. (1999). The elements of computer credibility; Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems archive—Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems: pgs 80 – 87

Hollihan, T.A (1986). The public controversy over the Panama Canal treaties: An analysis of American foreign policy rhetoric. Western Journal of Speech Communication, 50, 368-387.

Rushing, J. H. (1983). “The Rhetoric of the Western Myth.” Communication Monographs 50:12-32.

Selber, A. (2004). Multiliteracies for a Digital Age: Studies in Writing and Rhetoric. Southern Illinois University Press.

Advanced Secular Techniques

Malcom Gladwell is writing about Sorcery. Blink is mainly about adjusting perceptions and cognition while Tipping Point is primarily about affecting change. To put that in Castaneda's terms, Blink is about learning to See and Tipping Point is about applying your Will. If you were to add David Allen's Getting Things Done you would have impeccability and would be acting as a warrior.

Untrained introspection destroys people's ability to utilize rapid cognition. However, training in a systematic approach to the subject matter can over time become embedded in the unconscious and improve rapid cognition. The reason for this is that too much data is detrimental. Instead we need to find the key details, what Castaneda would call the Joints.

Systematic Blinking

  1. Train yourself by looking at key details systematically

  2. Hide extraneous or misleading information

  3. Accept and appreciate rapid responses as data rather than as judgments

  4. Slow or calm situation and reactions as much as possible to maintain conscious control.

It is by controlling the framing context of the situation systematically that we get the best results from our rapid unconscious cognition.

Suggested Reading:

Fenris 23: Isle of Lyngvi

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Silver Queen

We are wearing Top Hat and Tails...We are traveling stage magicians visiting the Worlds Fair...

There is a important game being played...


Three Card Monty

This would be a SILVER QUEEN instead of a SILVER JACK...

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