Monthly Archives: March 2011

Rollout of Freedom, Long Stalled, Resumes

Agnes Smedley, a great American heroine unknown here in the U.S. though known to schoolchildren in China, considered that The French, American, and Chinese Revolutions for Independence were not three wars, but a single revolution.

The Freedom Revolution.

Since written language began, nations have been formed by warlike leaders. These controllers have been better or worse for the people living within their domains. A rare few, such as the presidents of the U.S., have been relatively more dedicated to their people, which is as it ought to be. Nowadays most truly civilized nations have caught up to the U.S. in this and in other ways. Thank God!

There continue to be other nations that repress their people. Ten or eleven years ago when the Internet penetration slowly started to climb in these latter nations, betting folks would have laid odds as to when the revolutions would start. It was inevitable. Even Hitler would have known that, given his comment on media: “First, capture the radio station.”

Unlike broadcast media or any other media before it, the Web/Mobile medium now fascinating us all with its endless surprising unfoldments, is interpersonal, like conversation and sex. It is inherently social, and empowers both the individual and the group, informing their increasing interaction. This means that this medium is a democratizing tool. The human race is the pre-eminent tool-building race on the planet, and now we have invented a tool that feeds and feeds off our inherent ability to come together socially in synergistic and potentially win/win ways.

In the consumer electronics business, the leaders are already aware that the Internet/Mobile medium – let’s call it the Web for short – has democratized technology. What we are now seeing on a global scope is that the Web is also democratizing society.

The information flowing to the populations of repressed nations for the last ten or more years has created a pent-up pressure. When the valve bursts, the repressive governments can no more stuff the genie of freedom back in the bottle by shutting down the Internet (too late) than they could stuff toothpaste back in a tube.

It started even before the Web, with TV. TV brought a view of the world into these repressed nations. It was not always with positive effects. In January 1980, in Media Science Newsletter, I quoted Princeton’s top expert on Iran at the time, Jerome Clinton: “It was almost a caricature of our civilization as we know it. When I was there, it was embarrassing to see ‘Peyton Place’ in Persian. Movies and TV gave the impression that the West was totally materialistic, selfish and consumption-oriented. Conservative Iranian Muslims saw their sons and daughters corrupted by these influences from the West. They felt powerless.”

American TV, movies, and global websites subsequently poured much information, positive and negative, into the repressed nations of the world. The ultimate effect was to drive repressive and rapacious dictators out of Egypt and Tunisia. But look what’s happening now.

The pressure that TV, movies and the Internet have been building up in these dictator-controlled countries – letting in a view of the greener grass elsewhere – is still pent up in lots of nations. They now see the art of the possible. Look what happened in Tunisia and Egypt, they say, we can do that here – we must do that here – we would be cowards to stand by any longer now that we see it can be done. Bahrain, Libya, Syria,   Yemen and even China are now feeling the ripple effect from the Egypt mindquake.

In the smaller nations where this happens and the government kills peaceful protesters, as happened in Syria on March 25, 2011 – yesterday as this is being written – the world community will tend to step in and declare the government illegitimate and aid the rebels – as is already happening in Libya. It remains to be seen what will happen if and when such incidents were to occur in China.

The net result of this process will be fewer and fewer dictatorships – obviously, a very good thing.

Another effect could be that the young and idealistic in the repressed nations will now have a positive cause for which to fight, as opposed to being channeled off into the crime-as-terrorism phenomenon. It should become harder for the Taliban, al-Qa’ida et al to recruit. Another very good thing.

Let it be.

Best to all,


PS – Working on a documentary about Agnes Smedley. Please email me for further information.

Audience Created Programming

“Another Potential Ratings ‘Secret Weapon’: Recruit Your Audience To Do Your Programming. Then they will tune in to see themselves, and get as many other people as possible to watch… Sounds homey and unglamorous, but so are most communities and most people. Its track record proves that this method yields more rating points per production dollar.”  — Media Science Newsletter, May 15, 1979

Back in those days we were always writing about the future of television – at the time that meant 1990 :smile:. Our prediction of audience-created programming (today we call them “reality shows”) was based merely on the growth of cable networks, which meant smaller audience shares for the original networks who paid for most of the top productions. Seeing those smaller shares coming, it was no stroke of genius to think that lower cost programs would be coming too.

Elsewhere in that issue and in other reports through the 80s and 90s, we spoke of viewers using their camcorders (today we would say cellphones) to send video upstream from their homes in a new form of immersive interactive TV – live shows with viewers at home literally stepping into the frame. Risky business – even with multi-second delays and bleep buttons – but Jerry Springer turned it into a goldmine with just a studio audience. Maybe we will get that “Camera Two-Way TV” yet.

This led us to predictions of video dating, video travel, video group therapy – forms which have been developed with somewhat different spins, programs like “Real World”, “Jersey Shore”, etc. – again, not yet using webcams at home – and live programming has quite fallen out of the culture for some years now, except for sports.

Population Becoming More Creative and Inventive?

Remember the (regrettable) experiments with animals deprived of toys, and how that stunted their emotional and intellectual development?

On the other side of the scale, the hyper-stimulation of today’s culture could be generating a population of creative inventors. The 2011 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, according to the Boston Business Journal (January 19, 2011), finds that 71% of females 16-25 consider themselves to be creative, compared with 66% for males 16-25.

Historically, as a culture, we have suppressed the percentage of the population that could make a living as a creative person. As media have grown they have increased how much these few could earn and generate. Could we absorb two-thirds of the population into the entertainment business?

Since this is unlikely, to forego frustration, we need to channel our creative energies into whatever it is that we do.

The same study finds smaller proportions considering themselves “inventive” as compared to “creative” – 39% of males 16-25 and 27% of females 16-25 see themselves as “inventive”. More than twice as many females of this age group see themselves as creative as see themselves as inventive, and the pattern is almost as dramatic for males of this age. Probably just realism: females see themselves doing unique things that are a bit unexpected but do not equate that with creating an invention.

Empowered by the new digital toolkit – video phones, computers, the Internet, affordable video editing suites and animation systems for everyday computers, Facebook and Twitter, having their own blogs, doing mashups, emailing photos from cellphones – the average person has become more creatively expressive.

The programs on the air do not fully tap this range of expression yet; the graphic representation might look something like the visible light slice of the electromagnetic spectrum. The slice that has been most fully developed has been predictably skewed to physicality – because that is more exciting than talking heads. Yet a market for talking heads persists – it is much of what we see around the “dial” today – and the best of the breed, such as “Charlie Rose”, has a franchise and is a business. Possibly more programming can be created that is somewhere (if not a cross :smile:) between “Charlie Rose” and “Jersey Shore”, that taps into the cultural creative spurt that is one of the upsides of the media technology revolution.

Best to all,


A-GRPs: Affinity Gross Rating Points

What if we found out that affinity was the most powerful communications effect translating into incremental sales dollars, even more powerful than reason-why or viewer-reward?

Let me back up a second and define what I’m talking about.

Affinity” is liking the brand. An ad that creates affinity — the feeling that “the brand is my friend” — is one type of communication. It works particularly well with true sponsorship (no hard sell ads), when the brand brings content that the viewer loves and is grateful to the brand for bringing. This can also be done in 30” and 60” form as in the great work of copywriter Nick Pisacane and Art Director Al Amato.

Reason-why” is when an ad appeals to reason and perhaps using demonstration, proves that the brand is superior to its competitors. Grey used to be noted for its work in this area. Bill Bernbach nailed this approach in the original breakaway Volkswagen ads.

Viewer-reward” (so named by great copywriter John Bergin) is when a commercial is fun to watch and produces liking for the commercial (maybe not so much for the brand). Phil Dusenberry was also famous for funny commercials that you could enjoy over and over. Pepsi was one brand that became identified with this style of commercial because of Phil and then Ted Sann, so that crossover to Affinity (true liking for the brand) was also occurring some of the time with these Pepsi ads.

These are three of the ways (creative strategies) — maybe not all the ways — that an ad can affect persuasion and sales.

Now that I’ve defined these terms, back to the point. What if Affinity — an ad’s creation of liking for the brand, the brand is my friend — turned out to be the most powerful driver of sales made by advertising today?

What evidence do we have for that hypothesis?

  • My work on True Sponsorship, which was published in the ARF Journal (see recent postings which also quote that 2006 paper).
  • The steady growth in Cause marketing. Brand Affinity is the cognitive/emotive channel through which Cause works. It is already over a billion dollars a year in the U.S. and very few papers have revealed how big an impact Cause has on sales. Cone Agency (won Strategic Agency of Year award in 2008) is exemplary in the work they do in Cause marketing and in building brand trust.
  • Brand distrust is the main factor working against all advertising, regardless of the creative strategy employed. I have been writing about the constant rise in brand distrust for, well, decades. This distrust is part of a greater distrust for government, everything and everybody, which has been growing for over 50 years — the era of conspiracy theory — and shows no signs of ending but rather keeps becoming more prevalent in our lives.  Since Brand Affinity is the opposite of Brand Distrust, this is one strong reason to form the hypothesis I am proposing.
  • Jim Spaeth, when running ARF not so long ago, pulled the industry together in a massive validation of all copy testing. The results surprised everyone including Jim and me, in finding that liking is right up there with persuasion as a factor in the success of commercials. In that case liking the commercial was the main point but was probably confabulated with some brand liking as well. (Note that the famous Piel’s ads which were widely liked had zero effect on sales; this was part of what led the industry to discount “liking” as having any importance in commercial testing — until Jim’s massive study just a few years ago.)
  • Joel Tucciarone reports the results of a study that found involvement to be more powerful than satisfaction in predicting brand loyalty. One of the key metrics within the Involvement score was high numbers on the semantic differential scale called “The Brand Is My Friend”.
  • Herb Krugman found that people made connections to brands, sometimes based on what they were experiencing during the time they took up with the brand; the number of such brand connections was found to be predictive of brand loyalty.
  • At ESOMAR a few years ago, then-P&G (today Medialinkllc) thought-leader and innovator Bernhard Glock said that P&G is interested not just in reaching consumers, but in touching their hearts.

Some people who like the commercial will also like the brand for having done it. More and more we have to learn how to increase this crossover. We also have to do studies to learn more about it.

On the Internet now, Facebook and many others are asking users to click on items they like, and are reporting how many people have already clicked that they liked it. This is a pool of information that can provide insights into Affinity and what makes it tick — and how and when it effects sales increases. Colligent  is doing the leading work in this area, measuring what 145,000,000 people say publicly they like in terms of over 37,000 brands, TV programs, etc. Colligent’s Chairman John Bess came out of P&G where he was a leader in the automation of a key research area; Sree Nagarajan is the computer genius who invented the cutting edge technique.

I for one see biometrics as a very promising area in general, and one which can shed important light into Affinity. Those insights will help enable us all to create ads and media vehicles for those ads (or true sponsorships without ads) and even branded entertainment apps which better create Brand Affinity.

Today, out of 100 people, about 4 are persuaded by the average ad, according to published ARS norms on persuasion. Of these 4 persuasion occasions, perhaps Brand Affinity caused 1 (or fewer), Reason-why perhaps caused 1, Commercial liking (viewer reward) caused 1, and maybe the 4th one was caused by sheer low-involvement reminder effect, priming the viewer to respond when cued by the package on the shelf.

The hypothesis espoused herein suggests that if we make commercials/environments creating more Brand Affinity, we can raise the average from 4 to 6, with half coming from the Brand Affinity strategy. This would not raise cost but would increase advertising effectiveness +50%.

Instead of promulgating empty impressions, the impressions would be payloaded with packets of Brand Affinity Persuasion — if we found that this moves the needle upward on sales.

We could add a Liking button on TV — something the ITV leaders such as Canoe and Brightline could implement.

We could even begin to count impressions this way. If we find that a commercial creates Brand Affinity in say 10% of those who see it, we can express that as A-GRPS or A-TRPs (Target Rating Points) by reducing the GRP or TRP by a factor of 10%. This would only make sense if we found that Brand Affinity translates almost directly into incremental sales creation — which hasn’t been established yet.

It looks like a promising direction for research to go in.

Best to all,



Agencies to Become a Major Factor in Television Production Again

"Rx for Agencies [excerpt]

Create programming designed as the optimal environment for the specific client. Agencies should bring programming to their clients which utilizes the new more efficient production technologies. These will include… programs with fully integrated cast presenter commercials and product placement, and subtler forms. This again is an integration function and one which exploits the agency's core competencies placed halfway between the world of the advertiser and the world of the talent."

The Marketing Pulse, Sept. 30, 1993

When I was writing the Marketing Pulse back then, I distinguished in my own mind the difference between articles in which I would exhort, vs. articles in which I would predict. This was an exhortation article. I knew that all the agencies weren't going to immediately jump on this complex idea just because I tossed it out there.

This was not a new idea even then. Agencies had produced virtually all of the first television shows. That phenomenon mostly went away except for P&G soap operas, LBS (P&G/Grey's syndication company); and until Bill Cameron left, JWT and Needham were doing great Specials.

It's coming back. As reported by Jack Myers, at NATPE recently, Sir Martin Sorrell said, "Legacy media owners are very challenged. New media companies are hungry. We intend to be at the forefront of this new opportunity… [media owners] will need to understand what clients want and how they are going about achieving their individual goals." GroupM Entertainment evidently intends to compete in the creation of video content via that special edge of knowing the client advertiser's needs better than any TV production company or distribution outlet. This speaks to the "optimal environment" idea as in the first paragraph above. Peter Tortorici who heads GroupM Entertainment had been president of two broadcast networks and helped bring such shows to television as Cosby, “Third Rock From The Sun”, “Murphy Brown”, “Touched By An Angel” and many more. More recently he served as Executive Producer of “We Are The World 25 For Haiti” with Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie, and Oscar winner Paul Haggis.

How will optimal environment be determined? I suspect it will turn into a race between alternative tech/research teams to pretest program content in advance so as to be able to better predict the size and composition of the audience, and to tweak the program to get higher involvement from its audiences that rubs off as a subtle form of gratitude to the sponsor.

Speaking at the 4As annual conference on March 8, 2011, WPP client Unilever’s Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Keith Weed emphasized the importance of content, underscoring the importance of agencies becoming more heavily involved in the creation of video content. Obviously nowadays the words “video content” mean more than just big screen television, instead also including Internet and Mobile, and probably increasingly, in-store.

Publicis at SMG level, has four pillars for communications planning: Community, Conversation, Currency and Content.  And content is definitely a core part of the Publicis paid, owned, earned media focus – creation of original, brand-owned content being "owned" – applicable across all media forms. Liquid Thread which used to be called ConnectiveTissue is comprised of producers and is headed by Brian Terkelsen. Under Brian’s direction the unit has already created over 200 television programs for its over 100 client brands, totaling over 8000 minutes of original content, including award-winning programs such as CoverGirl’s involvement in America’s Top Model, the M&M Characters’ roles in Entertainment Tonight. And numerous new programs created for clients such as “New You” with P&G Beauty Brands and “South Beach Diet” for Kraft.

Omnicom unit OMD, to quote Joe Mandese, "has created a new division that utilizes a strategic planning approach to develop custom media and content that fits into its clients' communications and branding goals." And he might have included ROI. Calculating that will include the advertiser's backend in the after windows, if any is negotiated, presumably varying on case by case basis according to the current zeitgeist. The new unit, called the Content Collective (good name for the business), will be producing for all screens, judging from the Flipboard deal on the New Media side, and on the TV side, the Pepsi Refresh campaign, which could be considered a form of program content because of its unique cause angle.

Although Interpublic’s Magna Global Entertainment stopped operation in September, that was done so that each IPG agency can brand its programs, not due to any slowdown in program content creation. One of MGE’s biggest ongoing program efforts was its longtime made-for-TNT movie series "Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation." Recent films included "The Ron Clark Story" with Matthew Perry and "A Perfect Day" with Rob Lowe.

Emotional gratitude toward a brand, whether conscious or subconscious, brought about by content sole sponsorship (does not work as well or at all for more than one brand at a time), pays off in dollars and cents, and produces high scores in well-grounded exposed/unexposed persuasion tests. As I mentioned in a footnote to my prior blogpost, results of 28 studies proving this were published in my paper with Stu Gray and Gerry Despain in the December 2006 Journal of Advertising Research. On average, gratitude sponsorship on the Internet has 7X the persuasion effect of the ARS benchmark for 30 second TV commercials. Norm Hecht proved the same thing in TV in 5 studies for CBS, finding that gratitude-producing sole sponsor TV Specials produce 3-5X the persuasion score of the average TV commercial.

Gratitude sponsorship on TV today is a rara avis. I predict that this decade will see great growth for this form. Agencies will start out producing all sorts of content, some that generates gratitude and some which doesn't. The invisible hand of the marketplace will kill off the programming that doesn't.

Best to all,


Optimize For The Consumer

In 1979 I predicted in Media Science Newsletter that television and computers would evolve into advertising media where individuals could be reached with addressable ad messages that were so relevant the recipients would be grateful and would supply information to help achieve that relevancy. In the 90s I spearheaded the effort to create privacy principles through the CASIE committee that was formed by ANA, AAAA and ARF, and warned in my newsletter that if the ad industry veered from these principles, they would destroy addressable commercials.

The rest is history. As an industry, we let a few who had a bad attitude toward privacy contaminate the whole idea of targeting. On March 8, 2011 David Vladeck, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, speaking at the 4As annual meeting, warned agencies that if they and the Internet media did not create a Do Not Track Registry, the government would. Even before this happened, in fear response to the ongoing Wall Street Journal series of articles, four of the largest setters of Internet cookies for the industry pulled back on setting and selling cookies to ad networks. This same WSJ series has also caused research companies to put a freeze on new initiatives for Internet measurement that could provide huge steps forward for Internet advertising value.

There is still time to save the baby. In this blogpost I suggest a way I think will work to save the day for addressable commercials as well as the Internet, in terms of privacy.

Also in the 90s, Next Century Media (which I chaired) led the way with the Addressable Advertising Coalition, a group we founded with Discovery Networks Chairman and founder John Hendricks. The top 20 agencies all joined and six of them paid voluntary dues to support the nonprofit. P&G, GM and many other advertisers joined, as did all the major cable, satellite, and set-top box companies.

We should have included more people from the Internet side, especially since that is where all the privacy gaffes were made. Again, it is not too late to turn back to the right privacy solutions — reflecting the CASIE principles of full disclosure, consumer choice, and anonymity.

As pivotal as privacy is, solving the larger issue behind privacy is the key to solving it all. The real umbrella question is: how does technology optimize the link between individual tastes and desires, and the content that is suggested to the individual based on these interests?

This larger question contains the question: What is the ideal privacy solution?

We can see in light of this hidden larger question that there is a benefit to the consumer up to a certain point, in the “push” of addressable information packets, whether they be wrapped up as commercials/ads or as Amazon book suggestions or as Pandora music suggestions, and so on.

What the consumer objects to is when the information packet turns out not to be something he/she wants, and especially when it is embarrassing or disturbing to the consumer that the advertiser has a specific image of him or her — e.g. ads related to health matters, sex, or other touchy subjects.

Next Century Media’s (NCM’s) solution was to allow ad recipients to “punish” the system for ads delivered that were not appreciated, and to request notification via ads for brands in product/service categories where the person was actively shopping. “Punishing” was by means of a Boo button that would train the system to avoid serving ads that had metatags (keywords) the same as the ads that had been booed. (There was also an Applause button which today we see widely implemented as the Like button. It is not too late to add the Boo button alongside the Like button.)

Based on the NCM solution and the principles behind it, the best of breed answer to targeting algorithms in the future will reflect the idea: Optimize for the consumer. In other words, the machine learning systems must please the consumer at all costs, even if it means not delivering some ad to some person an advertiser would have liked to reach.

As my good friend Bob DeSena points out, if we do this right there will be no conflict between optimizing for the consumer and optimizing for the advertiser.

All of this implies allowing people to choose with whom you are allowed to share their information.

This was confirmed by a Gallup study whose results were released on December 23, 2010, which found that young and affluent Internet users would rather choose the advertisers they allow to target ads at them, rather than block all such targeted ads entirely. More recently released findings from a Ball State study show the same thing, adding that the same person has entirely different views on privacy depending on the context and what the incentives are.

It also suggests that brands themselves take an active positive role in identifying themselves as the good guys in terms of privacy — so that consumers include them in the good-guy list rather than the blocked list. Doing so will build strong relationships of trust and affinity with consumers.

The best of breed way to do this is by a means we call Branded In-Context Notification. (The ANA and IAB have a similar idea they call In-Context Notification, but in that paradigm the brand is not credited with the courtesy of offering full disclosure and choice; it is not Branded. The consumer may be grateful, but doesn’t know who to thank.) Next to a banner or other display/rich media ad on the Internet picture a smaller banner that has the brand’s logo and says “Privacy click here”. When the user clicks he/she sees a page also branded by the advertiser of the adjoining ad, in which there is full disclosure of how and why data are used to try to improve experience for the consumer, how the consumer can Boo/Applaud on the specific ad, how the consumer can opt out and reasons why the consumer benefits by not opting out.

Being willing to trust a company based on little or no real information is a pervasive hesitation that is generally overcome when the company provides tangible evidence that it is a good guy. This can be done by cause marketing, true sponsorship (no hard-sell advertising)*, and as we suggest here by taking a friendly step toward the consumer on the Internet with regard to privacy: Branded In-Context Notification.

One ounce of positive emotion is worth lots of tonnage of emotionless GRPs. Beyond today’s sales there is the endless relationship with the consumer – where true economic value lies.

How would this proposed solution be better than what the government wants, namely a Do Not Track Registry? With such a Registry, consumers could just click once and resign from all addressable advertising forever; tens of millions might go this way. With our proposed solution, they would only block addressable messaging from one advertiser at a time, punishing them for mishandling the privilege of addressable targeting. The Registry would punish all advertisers for the mistakes of a few.

If we’re going to do this, the time is now, before the Do Not Track movement becomes unstoppable. Perhaps it is already too late for the Internet, but maybe there is still time to save television addressable commercials before they too come under fire.

Also, let's stop calling them consumers — they are us,  just people. It will be more conducive to establishing the kind of relationship we want to have with them to think of them simply as people and not as things that consume our products.

This Branded In-Context Notification solution can also work on TV. When an addressable commercial is shown on TV, assuming it is in a system that also supports interactivity, there can be a banner across the bottom of the commercial throughout its duration which says (let’s assume it’s a Sam Adams commercial sent only to beer purchasing homes) “Sam Adams wants to protect your privacy – click Select for details”. Viewers clicking Select (or whatever button is assigned) telescope to a video where possible or to a still text frame where necessary.

Needs to be tested to see what the effect is on purchasing. It could be that even viewers who miss almost all of the commercial still increase purchasing as result of increased trust and affinity for the brand.

Let’s bring back the promise of addressable commercials, and solve the privacy challenge once and for all, by total ethical proactive transparency with audiences. That was the concept all along.

Key Takeaways:

  • The addressable ad recipient should be so grateful for the targeted message that he or she would not say “take me off list” to the sender.
  • Your brand should become a source that they trust to send content of interest to them specifically.
  • To achieve this informed relevancy, in addition to knowing the anonymous ID’s purchase behavior so you know if you want to reach them, you need to know that ID’s interests so you can optimize the content you send them.

Best to all,


*In the December 2006 edition of ARF’s Journal of Advertising Research, Stu Gray, Gerry Despain and I reported results of 28 studies showing consistently that true sponsorship on the Internet has 7X the average persuasion effect of 30-second TV commercials; a couple of the studies involved direct response where true sponsorship resulted in double-digit ROI. Years ago I measured the persuasion effectiveness of a TV special involving fully-integrated soft-sell cast-presenter commercials and the scores were far higher than the client’s norms. The less we “sell”, the more we sell.

The Acceleritis™ Theory

My studies have led to this theory I’d like to share with you. Like all theories it sprang into being to answer some question. In this case the question was, “How is it that the human race has managed to bungle things to quite this degree?”

In short, my theory is that it’s Acceleritis™ — a pandemic shock reaction to information overload.

For years we media researchers have been estimating how many ads a person sees in a given day. Ed Papazian did it and so did I. Not hard, given that monitoring and rating services provide benchmarks for making macro estimates.

I added the notion of estimating the other events impinging on consciousness in everyman’s and everywoman’s typical day. There I used a reducing rule (for ads too), that to qualify as experiential, the event would have to be consciously noticed by consciousness. This can be measured by EEG P300 waves — the brain signature for noticing that some sensory information differs from expectation. The challenging ethnographic research is yet to be done (and can never measure the past), but some preliminary estimates have been made.

Imagine being a shepherd a mere 400 years ago. The P300 waves you would normally get in a day would be centered around human interactions, and even those would tend to be predictable, and so you could go through quite a few human interactions with familiar people without any P300 waves. Sometimes animal life, the weather, plant life, the stars and moon would do unpredictable things, though less often than people are unpredictable. Rarely, there would be something truly extraordinary like a plague or an invasion that would give you a huge spike in P300 waves.

Making assumptions such as these we began to cautiously construct the graph below. The numbers are undoubtedly wrong but are probably directionally right.

With the vertical scale having to deal in large numbers because of the recent past, the small numbers of daily P300s is so low that it’s hard to see a line until after the printing press. As the population makes a startling shift to big cities in the first half of the 20th Century, and as cinema, radio, newspapers, magazines, and outdoor signs proliferate, the rate goes up to est. 3000 noticed events per day by 1950. Something like 500 of these being ads. Another 1500 or so being evoked by media program/editorial portions — mostly radio and print at that time.

From 1950-1990 TV, with its dominance of nonworking awake time, brings the pressure up to est. 15,000. From 1990-2010 the ubiquitous Internet and Mobile, plus the cultural shift to multitasking, raises it to an est. 40,000.

This is 1000X higher than when we started "texting" only 6000 years ago. Prior to text (written language) our oral-only language was a powerful communication tool, allowing us to cooperate in the hunt to become initially successful as a warrior race (at war initially with predators), and to cooperate in tool development. Written language then moved language into the visual sense, which happens to be the dominant sense of all primates including the apes and us. This effectively kicked off Acceleritis.

In the last 6000 years — a mere 300 generations — we have been inventing things at an accelerated rate, and these things now change society more than once a year — sometimes it feels like once a day, and it seems to be headed there.

This is why I consider psychotechnology, which prepares people with techniques to stay focused through complexity, to be so important.

All the best, Bill

Estimates of Noticed Events