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By Milena Selkirk (February 1, 2009) ()

I thought the readings and videos were fascinating and enjoyable this week. They show such a huge range in persuasion from Murston’s early lie detector test to Dan Lockton’s simple examples of designed persuasion (microwave safety doors and the London street crossings, which I’ve wondered about myself) to more complex systems like Mr. Clough’s playful, yet slightly creepy apartment construction. Also evocative was the politically persuasive architecture mentioned in Lockton’s lecture – such as the intentionally low bridges that kept poor folks who relied on buses away from the resort area. 

I am also having a hard time thinking of an example of identifying an attempt to persuade me although I have been on the other side. A few years ago, I wanted to increase my “friends” on my band’s Myspace page to increase song plays and contacts and impressed record executives.

Myspace is persuasively designed in such a way that it’s fairly difficult to do add new friends and forces you to spend more time on their site. In order to add a friend, you must go to the person’s page, wait for their profile to load, click “add,” send the invite. Many profiles do not accept unknown requests and reject you straight off the bat, so, in that situation, you performed 4-5 steps for nothing. Other people require CAPTA codes (a series of numbers or letters you must type) to prove that you’re not a computer, which slows down the process even more. To add 50 people manually takes hours and hours and maybe only 40% will become your “friend.”

To get a leg up, I purchased the friendadder, an application bundle which cost about 70$ and would automatically add up to 500 friends a day. You could chose people by location, gender, age, education, sexual orientation, music tastes, or by tag word. You could also add other people’s friend lists. This program also allowed you to mass message your existing friends or leave identical comments on your new friends’ profiles. Friendadder succeeded in increasing my number of friends. The problem was that friendadder was really erratic and would stop working whenever myspace upgraded its operating system, which was often. It no longer works.

I was able to persuade others using friendadder to do what I wanted them to do, add my band, and listen to music. Many people would write in messages like “how did you find me?” which I could then reply ” i came across your page and you seemed cool.” This personal approach would always work.

This also shows how myspace is designed in a way which persuades the user to follow myspace’s desired order of events (like the multiple, designed steps it takes for a user to add new “friends.” This process provides Myspace with intended side effects (microsuasion) that I’m sure they desire – like user exposure to advertising, events and artists, logging in more time on their site.


February 1, 2009


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