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iPhone reaches Canada? October 29, 2007

Posted by Vasudevan in Technology news.
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titanic lamp October 25, 2007

Posted by Vasudevan in Technology news.
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Amazed to see the creativity – no other reason to find place in my blog

Made of lacquered wood with cotton and steel shade, this lamp from Charles Trevelyan represents your dim hopes of making a difference sinking further into oblivion. I’m sorry. That’s rather bleak. Let’s play glass half-full instead. This lamp available from Viable London is like a phoenix rising from the lifetime of disappointments that beset you until now. Your newfound vigor is the signal event for a new and improved world. Mark this day on your calendar. Schoolchildren will memorize it as part of a complete education.

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How to “wire” your website! October 22, 2007

Posted by Vasudevan in Technology news.
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People will involuntarily look where someone else is looking, and you can use this hard-wired, prehistoric response to your advantage on your website. On the other hand, not paying attention to this response can make viewers click away from where you want them to go, even though they might not realize why they’re doing so.

This need to look where someone else is looking is easy to demonstrate. Next time you’re talking one on one with someone, casually and without warning gaze over their shoulder and focus on something behind them. Then just as quickly bring your gaze back to them. Do this once or twice and the person will either turn around to look where you’re looking or ask you if there’s something he needs to be aware of.

(Note: If this sounds familiar to regular readers, I talked about something similar in “Pavlov’s eyes: get users to respond.”)

It’s in the wiring
The reason this little game works is because human beings started off as herd and prey animals. Not only that, we were secretive little creatures for several million years of evolutionary history and all of this makes itself known in how our brains are wired to respond to, internalize and use information in our environment.

Our ancestors had to be constantly on guard for lions, tigers and bears. If Og the caveman was talking with me and suddenly looked over my shoulder, he might be seeing a predator. That was extremely useful information to our ancestors, so following Og’s gaze and looking where he looked was a good survival skill.

Good survival skill? Heck, it’s so good let’s wire it into the brain! Evolution dictates survival of the fittest, and eventually the only ancestors left were those who followed the gaze of their peers because they knew when predators were coming and got away rather than being eaten.

Nature is excellent at finding new uses for things that work. It will take something that works well in setting A and then see if it works in setting B. This time it took “looking for predators” and used it to find food or things precious to us.

There is a Sherlock Holmes story where Holmes feigns a house fire so he can see where a woman looks before fleeing her house. He knows she will check to see if precious things are safe before she leaves, so he knows where she has hidden a valuable document he was sent to find.

In evolutionary settings, if Og sees me staring at some tree or continually checking a rock, he’ll go investigate because he knows I’ll keep looking to make sure my precious things (usually food in these cases) are safe.

The big learning from this is a simple one: people will look where other people are looking because they’re wired to. This is part of our evolutionary heritage, and it isn’t going away any time too soon, so make use of it in your marketing website designs.

Follow my eyes

Take a look at this image:

The purpose of this image is to demonstrate community building and trust relationships. The image foreground does this well. The woman is shaking hands with the man, leaning into him, and because the target audience for the site is analysts, motion is implied to the right.

What about the background? Notice the two men standing in the background and looking away from the action and out of the frame?

The mind pays attention to what’s in the foreground, while a different part of the brain signals what’s in the background. When foreground and background information are incongruent the brain-mind system sends a signal that there’s a problem and that the information — the picture and whatever content is around it — is at worst dangerous and at best questionable.

That’s what’s happening here. If those two gents in the background were looking at the folks shaking hands there’d be no problem. The brain-mind would decide the information is good, relevant, meaningful and useful. Instead the two men in the background are looking away from the foreground action.

Are they seeing a problem or maybe food?

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