“Just You In Your Body” – ‘Before The Internet’, Emma Rathbone, The New Yorker

image by Luci Guterrez, The New Yorker

“Before the Internet, you would just sit in an armchair with a book open on your lap, staring into space or staring at a decorative broom on the wall—kind of shifting back and forth between those two modes of being.”

“You’d be in some kind of arts center, wearing roomy overalls, looking at a tray of precious gems, and you’d say, “That’s cat’s-eye,” and your friend would say, “Nope. That’s opal.” And you’d say, “That’s definitely cat’s-eye.” And there would be no way to look it up, no way to prove who was right, except if someone had a little booklet. “Anyone got a little booklet?” you’d ask, looking around. “Is there a booklet on this shit?”

“Then you’d walk outside and squint at the sky, just you in your body, not tethered to any network, adrift by yourself in a world of strangers in the sunlight.”

“Before the Internet, you could move to a new state and no one at school would know anything about you. You’d have no online history. You could be anyone. You would lean against the lockers with a faraway expression on your face and let people assume whatever they wanted. …

Before the Internet, you could laze around on a park bench in Chicago reading some Dean Koontz, and that would be a legit thing to do and no one would ever know you had done it unless you told them.

Before the Internet, if you were in need of some facts you might actually decide to consult an old person, like the one living in your finished basement. But then you’d find yourself watching “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” which you agreed to do because the old person asked in such a fragile way that you couldn’t say no.

– excerpts from ‘Before The Internet’, by Emma Rathbone, The New Yorker, 26 June 2017

“Phubbing” – Snubbing By Using Your Phone In Company

“Coined about 5 years ago, phubbing is an obvious mash up of phone + snubbing, and it refers to the nonverbal insult we transmit when our eyes drop and we must text or scroll through (insert most addictive app here) updates despite being in polite company. At its worst, it happens mid-conversation with dialogue halted by status-dropping silence and direct questions answered by a mute display of our scalps. Irony lovers will appreciate that the silent message sent to the people or person with us screams something along the lines of: “sorry guys, I really want to hear about your baby but I need to heart these Instagram Poke Bowls.”
“That’s not fair!” you say without looking up from your phone, “I have work texts and emails to tend to”. Yup, you do. And, to be fair, technological advancements of the last 15 years have introduced legitimate “phone addiction” to our lexicon along with “phubbing”, it’s most blatant symptom. But, addicted or productive, you’re still broadcasting the message that your friend/lover/grandma isn’t as important (or as interesting) as your device is in that moment.

Most absorbed by phubbing’s addictive allure? Predictably, it’s young people. Few generations have taken to technology like millennials but even within that demographic, one sub group is much more prone to behavioural dependence on devices: extroverted women.

A recent study done at Baylor University exploring smartphone use in couples found that almost half of those surveyed reported way too much phubbing during quality time. Partners who phubbed or were phubbed upon regularly admitted to a marked dissatisfaction with their relationship and an increase in depressive feelings.

– from “Phubbing” is the rudest of all phone behaviour. Are you guilty of it?, CBC Life, 15 June 2017

Cartoons More Persuasive Than Photographs?

A new study suggests if you’re trying to convince the public to change their stance on a topic such as wind energy, you may be more successful if you use a cartoon rather than a photograph.

“Photographs were shown to be more credible, but cartoons were more likely to change behavior,” says U of I agricultural communications professor Lulu Rodriguez who led the study. “A cartoon grabs people’s attention long enough to deliver the message. That’s what you need in today’s message-heavy atmosphere. Why not use a tool that has proven ability to cut through the others and inform people in a way that actually works?”

In the study, participants were shown one of two versions of the same set of brochures. Each set was designed to debunk a myth about wind energy, the intent being to give readers scientific information about wind energy and assuage their fears. Each pair of brochures was identical in design, text, color, size, etc. The only difference was that the originally designed brochures featured a beautiful, professional photograph of wind turbines, while the look-alike brochures created for the study swapped out the photograph with a cartoon.

“You have to spend more time with a cartoon to figure out the meaning of the illustrations, and the situation,” Rodriguez says. “People look at cartoons longer, so they’re more cognitively engaged with the cartoon. Usually it includes humor and people work hard at figuring out the punch line. The photos used to represent wind energy on the original brochures were just beautiful scenic shots of the turbine blades or a landscape dotted with turbines so people didn’t look at them as long.”

Interestingly, the respondents said the content was better in the cartoon brochures (even though the text was identical), but the credibility was lower than the brochures using photographs.

“It may be because of the more light-hearted approach of cartoons,” Rodriquez says. “Cartoons make a topic like wind energy, which may be a bit scary to people, more accessible. But this notion of credibility is a different issue. We teach students to be conversational in writing. Don’t put on your ‘tuxedo’ language. And yet, people associate big words with credibility.”

The article, “The impact of comics on knowledge, attitude and behavioural intentions related to wind energy,” is published in an issue of the Journal of Visual Literacy.

– from ‘Photos more credible, cartoons more persuasive, study shows’, Science Daily, 11 May 2017

Eggs Are Being Laid In The Temple Of Your Mind – Ads Targeted To You Based On Images You Post On Social Media

Many marketing experts are touting ads that are targeted to you based on the images you post on social media as the next big thing in advertising.
In her anticipated annual trends report, technology forecaster Mary Meeker noted that just as Google uses Adwords to deliver users ads based on what they type, companies such as Snap are now seeing success with ads based on what images users share.
For instance, if you post images from a beach vacation, you might be targeted with advertisements for bathing suits. If you post photos of your kitchen renovation, you might see ads for new appliances.
As image recognition continues to advance, new apps that utilize your smartphone’s camera will only propel this trend forward, by being able to recognize what you’re looking at and pair you with the most relevant ads, no searching necessary.

In the not-too-distant future, companies clamouring to sell us their wares won’t even need ads — or rather, we won’t notice them, because everything we interact with using our smartphone cameras will be selling us something, and often times, available for purchase with one simple tap or click.

Ads as we know them could soon be a thing of the past — but advertisers could very well end up selling us more stuff than ever.
– from ‘The end of online ads is probably coming, but it’s not what you think’, Ramona Pringle, CBC News, 10 Jun 2017

All part of a steady stream of frighteningly intrusive developments that are occurring under the radar of the vast majority of mobile device users.
There are such massive profits to be made from successful marketing, and there are no financial incentives for any forces of resistance. Thus, given human nature, there is almost no related public debate, and the changes will steamroll ahead.
The best a consumer can do is to remain as mindful as possible of what it is they are consuming. Especially what they are unconsciously consuming. See the challenge?
– AS

“Your mind is your temple, keep it beautiful and free. Don’t let an egg get laid in it by something you can’t see.” [Bob Dylan, ‘T.V. Talkin’ Song (1990)]