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IDF – Interactive Web Communication – Question 6

IDF – Interactive Web Communication – Question 6

Today the Interactive Design Foundation asked: What publications circulate among your target demographic? Do a search, and make a list of relevant publications. They also wanted us to analyze such texts for word-length, vocab and etc. Earlier in the lesson, they’d suggested googling “values of” xyz cultural subgroup.

BW & AW could not get on board with that way of thinking about design:

Our target audience is not a demographic, but an aspect of each human being: the best part: the Light within!​ So hah! We’re not going to go find texts of xyz subculture so we can parrot it back to them to create the illusion that we are in their club. We don’t approve of all this clubbiness!!!!! We will not google “the values of xyz race, income level, and age” We will google “value of people who live for kindness”, understand that that is the true aspiration of all human beings, and fasten on this (​) article’s quote from P Fierrucci, who tried to break kindness down into parts: empathy, modest, patience, generosity, respect, loyalty, gratitude. And for books, we will google “loving kindness literature” Here’s something:

We don’t need to deconstruct the language of anyone’s writings. We humans don’t want to be the little sing-song huddle-up-under-the-myths nonsense our groups say we are. Don’t steal my styles and prejudices to win me with flattery and regurgitated group-think! Write clear and calm and let me in to the space where we admit that we’re all in this together. The question is not how to make designs that trick people into thinking they’re among “friends” (ie: people who share their prejudices about how people should think, act, speak, dress, and otherwise carry on), but how to make a user experience that invites both designer and user into the kind of space created by a loving-kindness meditation. Now how do we do that? How long the sentence? How quick the cadence? Light sparkles off shifting waters quick and lively; but it also echoes slow and calm through openings in the forest canopy. So the answer’s not in the cadence. Vocabulary? Shakespeare caught the light, but so do the little kindnesses of some no-account’s day to day. No, vocabulary is not the answer. Everyone longs for the same thing: true joy. Our copy must sparkle with God’s laughter: that is the copy that gives people not the trite boring stories they think they need to hear in order to feel safe/important/bloated, but the path that deep inside we all recognize, believe in, and are grateful for–the path that nourishes us in empathy, modesty, patience, generosity, respect, loyalty, gratitude, kindness, shared joy. But how do we write this copy? The one that gives people not what their shallows suppose they are and which sycophants manipulate in order to keep them in the shallows, but what their depths know is what they really are. How to write the copy of life overflowing?

What is the list of things to make sure we do for our website’s copy?
It should be pleasant, encouraging, open-hearted/-minded
It should be honest: gentle with ourselves and others, but also relentlessly accurate
It should listen patiently and empathetically to the user and to the world. Empathy is not about pretending you are in the same club as someone one. It is about living in the knowledge that everyone is in the same club. But what is the copy that lives in that knowledge? How does one write kindly? You just take it easy. Take it easy on everybody. Have fun together. Let everyone in. Exclude no one. Hurt nothing. Kindness is a spiritual good, and as such it is beyond definition. On the other hand, we can use concepts to point towards it–meaningfully, though not definitively/literally. And so sketches like the one we found: empathy, modesty, patience, generosity, etc can be good rules of thumbs. But how do you write in a way that is empathetic, modest, patient, generous, respectful, loyal-to-the-Light-within-and-through-each-human, grateful? Keep trying?

Line of questioning from IDF
Disapproval at the assumptions behind the questions and hand-wringing over the question of how one could actually escape those assumptions and write a truly blessed copy: BW & AW

IDF – Web Communication Course – Question 3

IDF – Web Communication Course – Question 3

This time, The Interactive Design Foundations asked for up to a half a page about how we could improve our site’s Beauty, Proximity, and Similarity (three aspects of Attractiveness). And also how we could reduce our site’s Uncertainty (because if people are going to want to form a relationship with you, you need to reduce their uncertainty about you). The whole thing has to do with encouraging users to form a relationship with your site and business.

How did the boys do this time?
Not to great. Came on real strong with the metaphysics, but ran into some difficulties with the practical applications of their great Truths.

BW & AW Answer:

Beauty is Truth is Goodness is Justice, and the spot within each human moment where these ineffables run together is the same spot where Love explodes and is all. The wise see Beauty bursting through all things. That doesn’t mean they think all things are equally worthy. Beauty bursts through all things, and should be shared, and the way to share Beauty is to open hearts and minds to Beauty, and the way to do that is to encourage the growth of inner space: to encourage peace and togetherness and watchful kind joy. In individuals and groups, the values that promote such space are Beauty, Truth, Goodness, Justice, Love–those eternal directions that words cannot perfectly capture but to which words can nonetheless meaningfully point.

Proximity is convenience: is this relationship there for the taking?

Proximity is also welcomness (or at least we can roll it into this category, since the research didn’t mention that critical part ​of attraction. We form deep bonds with immediately family members partly because they are always around and partly because there is a dome of welcomness over the relationship: “come what may and annoying as everyone here is, we all accept the notion that we are in this together”. Since “we are all in this together” is actually not just true within families, but is in fact a great spiritual Truth spanning and yoking together all sentient beings, there’s no reason that we cannot expand that dome of welcomness so that it encompasses all of creation–it is just a matter of growing in wisdom. As wisdom grows one sees that we all flow together off of the one Light that shines through everything.
Similarity is, at the surface level, shared culture: shared notions about what is cool, what is interesting, how to put things, what is funny, what is right, how politics should go, how religion should be done. But at the deeper level, similarity is shared human Truth: what really matters is the Light within that alone knows what-actually-matters and how we can move in accordance with what-actually-matters. Therefore, the wiser we are, the more we grasp that we all share this Light and the longing to understand, follow, and flow off of it better.

From the foregoing, it is clear that to the wise, Beauty is everywhere, proximity is unavoidable, and similarity undeniable. Therefore, the best design will be that design that encourages the most wisdom in its users. But how can design encourage wisdom? It must be wise itself: relentlessly aware, honest, clear, kind, joyful, kindred.

But how can our website be wiser? As it is now, the site is a few silly introductory pages for several products: the site itself, an unreleased book and some possible future books, a few novelty items, and then various writings that I’ve tossed up over the last five or six years and which landed somewhere on the blog. We need to make at least a version of the book that is very readable, and we need to make it very easy to avoid falling down into the miles of verbiage. But yet we still need some way for users to see what is available. Maybe if we made the introductions to each product on the landing page into one sentence in bold with an anchor tag to reading more about that topic. How is that wiser? Well, it would be a little clearer. And how to make the site more aware? How to get a site to admit to itself and others what it is up to? What about cartoons with rollovers that reveal their underlying trick (ex: “Buy me because reading me will make you better looking and/or closer to more good looking people. Look at me: I’m reading this book and I am gorgeous!”)? That might get people thinking a little bit about how media encourages their own inner errors and thus guides them away from wisdom. But how to get them to really question the value of our product? What about our silly, back-handed, too-cool-for-school style: how do we make people aware of the deceit within that? And yet we feel that on the whole they should forgive us and work with us, because we are trying to be honest and kind–how to lay out our case for that forgiveness honestly? Obviously, we can release the answers to these questions and otherwise be transparent about our process, but we’re trying to make the landing-page itself wiser. Perhaps we could add an anti-advertising section at the bottom that links to both our advertisements and our misgivings about advertising. I think lots of banners festooned on the main page that upon rollover read “We can’t do it! We can’t get it right! We’re trying to make a perfectly decent and forthright product, but the little foolishnesses within us prevent our success!!!” Maybe that would get across our belief that honesty and kindness are the goals and also our confession that we’ve fallen short and also our intention to keep trying.

Consumer uncertainty can be reduced with a FAQ page, as well as a page on our attempts to be open, complete with links to info on what we are doing with our money (supposing any money was being made), what we’d like to accomplish, and what we wish we could get away with.

Answer from Bartleby Willard and Andy Watson to some extremely difficult questions posed by The Interactive Design Foundation.

IDF – Web Communication Course – Question 2

IDF – Web Communication Course – Question 2

Continuing with our questions posed by the Interactive Design Foundation
See IDF Web Comm – First Questions for the first set of questions that we couldn’t handle.

IDF question: “What are the values of your target audience?”
Poor AW & BW take a desperate stab at an answer:
Our target audience is somewhat aware of both their need for True Goodness​ as the ultimate bedrock and guide for their thoughts and actions and the dangers inherent in either over- or under-stating their own insight into True Goodness. However, very few people are all that wise, so (since we’re looking to engage more than a couple dozen people) the vast majority of our audience will still be mostly caught up in their longings for worldly success: material wealth, romance, friends, fun, prestige, a job they love. They value True Goodness and want to do what is right, but they only kind of wish their desire to follow True Goodness was strong enough to overtake their lives and lead them into spiritual blessedness–as they cannot shake the nagging fear that spiritual blessedness may mean they have to want to give up things they currently really really don’t want to give up.

IDF relentlessly asking questions:
“How can you construct a message and messenger that seem to reflect the values of that demographic? Considerations:
How much humor is appropriate and what type?
How much slang is appropriate and what type?
What should the messenger be wearing? Consider levels of
Formality of attire, and
Degree of crispness of attire
What is the typical rate of speech within that demographic? (slow and measured? Or quick and energetic?)
How much vocal pitch variation is most appropriate for this demographic? (mostly even, or highly varied?)​”

BW & AW give it their best:

But you see, the element within human beings that we–same as any half-way decent company–want to target does not want to be tricked. We don’t want to trick anyone. We don’t want to “seem” to be anything we are not. ​I suppose our readers will appreciate humor so long as it is kind-hearted. The project is a literary one, so slang is fine if it is artistically well-founded. There will be no pictures of real people, and the value of all images will depend upon their whimsy: how gentle is their touch and how much do they admit that we are all in this together? Look at the title of the book: A young boy, masterly painted in dark colors and soft-edges, wearing clothes and hair outdated by a couple centuries, looks thoughtfully ahead, the thumb of his writing hand on his pale round chin. It says: “Return with us to those thrilling tales of yesteryear!” It says: “and what of melancholy, tired old Europe?! Aren’t we all just flickers of light upon strange rivers?” The rate of speech of our demographic is not uniform. Nor is the vocal pitch variation.

​IDF wants to know: “How can you construct and present a messenger that makes your audience comfortable and want to trust you”

We suppose:
The messenger must admit what we are trying to accomplish: create beautiful, interesting, worthwhile thought, art, and fun; but also create a revenue stream with these creations, so we can spend more time creating and wondering at it all. It must also admit our misgivings: why should people spend their precious time, focus, and even a bit of money on us? Aren’t we somewhat lying about our goals? Don’t we to some degree desire accolades, great wealth, hot babes? Naturally, such desires flow through all of us, but the question is: how much are they driving our actions? How can the messenger be kind to both our readership and ourselves? Go easy, be well-organized, not overwhelm people with haphazard sketches. ​

Questions posed in the Interactive Design Foundation’s Web Communication course.
Answers from Bartleby Willard and Andy Watson, who just don’t know what to do–they really don’t.

IDF – Web Communication Course – Answer 1

IDF – Web Communication Course – Answer 1

Bartleby & I decided to join the Interactive Design Foundation.
We thought it could help us make the site more user friendly, and I thought maybe I could become a UX designer. At any rate, combining it with web development seemed like a good first step towards moving into tech.

But so far we are struggling.
See below for our answer to one of the early questions in the Web Communication course.

[note that they’d praised a University of Phoenix landing page that linked to articles about the usefulness of their site (central route processing), and that also showed pictures of attractive smiling people dressed in blue (peripheral route processing).]

From Interactive Design Foundation’s course on Web Communication:
“Exercise in targeting values
Take a moment to consider your audience and your message. How can you put your message in terms that will appeal to your audience? In other words, how can you frame your message in your target audience’s values?

Be sure to consider both verbal and nonverbal cues. Isolate values and address each individually. Consider: language used, colors used, images used, font and font size. Be sure to provide both strong cognitive/argumentation cues (for central route processing), and strong peripheral cues (for peripheral route processing).

Please share a quarter to half a page of your text, and describe how you would use colors, images etc. to provide nonverbal cues. (5 points)”

BW & AW answer:

The first thing we must admit to ourselves is that undermining all this mass manipulation is much more important ​than the success or failure of any given business venture.

Stop tricking people!!!! Stop it!!!

That’s the first step to decent design. Stop tricking people into wasting their time on your product. Be straight with them! Do they really want to go to the University of Phoenix? It is expensive and clearly loves money more than Truth. And what is lower than trying to fool people into thinking that they should spend all their savings and then some on your school because you’ve managed to work some pictures of good-looking smiling people in blue onto your splash page?

How to change design so that it stops jerking people around? That should be our first question. Instead of lulling users deeper and deeper into the “hush, hush, don’t think, just swallow”, every media experience should be designed to bring awareness, clarity, and honest reflection to the forefront of the user’s conscious experience. With our page “Pure Love For Sale???”​ we point out to readers how shabbily advertising treats us all, and we suggest a possible counterrevolution: use each advertisement as a challenge: “what are they trying to convince me I need? what is the spoken and unspoken reasoning? what do I really need? how does their product really relate to shared joy and the Light that alone knows that and how life matters?” But no one will bother to go to that page. And even if they do, who will read it to the end? Perhaps we could get The University of Phoenix to alter their splash page so that whenever you scroll over, for example, a smiling attractive person, a little blurb could pop up asking you to reflect on why you think they put a good looking person there, and asking you how much completing their program was likely to change your looks. This needn’t be completely contrary to their aims: they could note that with more money and leisure, aging often goes better, or at least can be fought against better. Of course, with a little discussion and consideration, I’m sure that their leadership will quickly agree that how many students they enroll is not the greatest good they need to consider–to some degree altering their aims. If UoP doesn’t take the responsibility upon themselves, perhaps our site could play around with such rollover pictures. Maybe winding them into our hilarious admonishment / advertisement.

The way our site is currently set up, it is a WordPress site with a fixed nav at the top, a giant shot of the book’s cover, and then a page or post, with a sidebar that repeats the nav links and that also has little ads for the cat totes and baby onesies. The landing page is “About This Project”, which then lists what is available on the site: 1) The book we’re about to finish any day now, as well as others planned or in the works; 2) our physical products, which are mere novelties, but which we explain are actually physical embodiments of charm, a metaphysical good; 3) The aforementioned “Pure Love For Sale” essay/ad; and 4) a quick intro to the page organizing all the blog posts, which are sketches mostly not particularly relating to the book.

Who will wade through all this? Would pictures of people reading the book and then becoming much more beautiful, smiling, and blue-wearing help? Perhaps such images would make the page both more visually interesting and more helpful for the common wheel as it tries to roll itself out of this fantastic bind (the constant, soul-misdirecting knavery of media manipulation). There’s currently no way to sign up for the mailing list (Mailchimp is telling me I need a PO box, if I don’t want to tell the world where to find me).

Below is the beginning of the text on the landing page. The style is a little flippant, pretty affable, very casual. If our readership values art and wholesome, mind- and heart-expanding fun, what imagery will call to them? If I’m going to decorate a website, I usually just steal famous art. But I’m not sure decorating this page would be a good idea. It is already perhaps too long and self-indulgent for people to scroll through. The problem we’re having here is that we only kind of want people to read the site. We also kind of feel ridiculous about the entire endeavor, worried that the primary product is not worth mentioning, rebellious against the fawning way business approaches you as it slips the long nozzle of its vacuum machine into your pockets, disheartened by the way we’re clearly mixed up in some fantastic infinite error, and just generally defeated by the inner give-up. Perhaps the best we can do is to border the writings with some comics that admit our misgivings to our readership, and that pray to God for forgiveness. This way the whimsy would be complimented by some softly beautiful imagery (we’ll steal from the French impressionists, I guess) and simultaneously complimented and counternuanced with our whimsically but also fretfully confessing captions.

The fundamental ethical dilemma of advertisers is that to get people predisposed to their message, they need to give the people what they want, but people don’t want what is good for them. They want the tip of the iceberg of goodness which is then co-opted to support their vainglorious desires to live selfishly, self-indulgently, half-assedly-while-feeling-and-looking-like-the-real-thing. And yet, no, they don’t really want that. What they want is the real thing. And, by a mixture of self-unmasking advertising and mournful flippancy, we will sit with them and together ask: “but what are we really doing here? isn’t aware clear-eyed kind-joy the only hope for any of us? and if this is so, how should we organize our lives?”

Did we answer the central route processing part of this question? Well, the text tells you what you’re getting, and it tries to be engaging.

Answers filled out by Andy Watson and Bartleby Willard

[here’s the snippet from the site’s landing page they handed in with their answers]

Hello worlds!

Welcome to our project.

On this site, you can purchase Volume 1 of “Love at a Reasonable Price” (Buy the Books), authored by the lonesome Bartleby Willard of the distant Wandering Albatross Press.

We also thinking of releasing more books and exerting ourselves in other ways, so please consider getting on our mailing list (????When will we figure out how to do this??? For now, you can reach us at:

See below for info on WAP ebooks, novelty gifts, and Pure Love advertisements/gimmicks/scams/gimmes/larks; as well as intros to the poetry and what-not that Bartleby Willard–as isolated and mournful as a blue whale quietly circling the sevenseas–tossed up onto this site during the six years he was supposed to be staying on task.

I. The Ebooks

1. “Love at a Reasonable Price”. Stories about manufacturing, marketing, and selling Pure Love (an eternal good). And also a few stories of the mythic origins of Wandering Albatross Press. Many of these stories first arose way back when by a Bartleby Willard in many respects younger than the Bartleby Willard who now and again digs back into the linty pockets of his patched-up storytime jeans, pulls a tale out, and works it over. Available here (maybe like Spring or Summer of 2018): Buy the Books.

2. We hope for more ebooks. Sign up for the possibility of hearing more here: ???? You can write: (As of 12/30/17, you could still be the first to write!!!!)

3. Oh, there’s also “Diary of An Adament Seducer”, an account of the more recent goings-on at WAP. This project was once begun and then abandoned. Right now only the intro and the first entry is posted [Here]. Maybe we can return to it in the year 2018 or the one immediately after.