Persuasive technology and the microwave oven

By William Seidman Last week we met with some PR folks. Like so many people we talk with, they were compelled to categorize us. We were a “training system,” a “knowledge management system,” a “project management system.” It’s human to categorize – but what we do at Cerebyte is both “all of the above” and “none of the above.” Remember heating food before microwave ovens? In the old days, the pot was either on the stove or in the oven. It took a while, but eventually the container got hot. Then along comes the microwave oven – which heated food nearly instantly without also heating the container. It didn’t make sense so we had to find out how this worked! Today no one thinks twice about the way microwave ovens work – they don’t want to, and don’t need to. Using the microwave analogy, we want to create images of what people experience with our system – which is, in fact, persuasive technology. We’d love to be the “microwave” of personal and organizational change. People won’t need to know how or just why it works – just that it DOES work. At Stanford University there’s some exciting research into captology, the design, theory, and analysis of persuasive technologies.]]>

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