Question 142 of 365: Who controls the power of suggestion?

Question 142 of 365: Who controls the power of suggestion?

Mythbusters title screen
Image via Wikipedia

My children have trigger words. Certain phrases cannot be said in their presence. If these words are uttered within earshot, the response is so immediate and severe that you will wonder if there will ever be another state of mind for them. These are words like “ice cream” or “science show” (also known as Mythbusters). These words are so highly suggestive to my children that they find themselves repeating the words over and over until I have no choice but to act. I either have to give in to what was already suggested or explain, in detail, why the suggestion was merely a mistake and that it is not an appropriate time.

I have trigger words too. Mine are usually overheard from across e room or at a dinner party. If I hear those words, I immediately gravitate toward whomever has said them. Among them are WordPress, iPad, Moodle, wikis, Vonnegut, and Schools. I will drop whatever I am doing to make myself available for those conversations just by virtue of them being suggested. And just like my kids, I am wrong about their suggestions much of the time. Often I mistake people talking about schools in the abstract as something to engage people in a debate about the future of education. They tend to be more interested in talking about a few of the teachers their children have had throughout the years. I often confuse the interest gadgets like the iPad as wanting to have conversations about what is possible to do with them. Too many times people are just talking about how it is just a big iPhone or about something they heard on the news about them.

The power of suggestion is quite strong with me. I can be convinced to engage in almost anything so long as it has one of my keywords somewhere in it. Kind of unfortunate for me, but incredibly fortunate for anyone who is trying to get my attention.

While I cannot extrapolate that all people are this highly suggestive, I would say that from the experience with my children that we never really get over the few things that cause great want within us. We will always be triggered to buy, converse about, or simply lust after the ideas that we connect to the most.

And therefore we are highly controllable. To any great extent if others (or if a service) figures out what our keywords are (or if we simply hand them over in the case of a profile page), we will be manipulated into focusing out attention on only those things that we have professed our affinity for.

That is why the future of advertising scares me a little bit. Anyone that can access our desires, interests, and social connections will be able to serve up the perfect ad that contextualizes a product within the conversation that we would like to have. They will be able to lay out a path to engage with the next idea in the sequence they have developed to get us to purchase their service.

In the ever expanding world of “things that we like”, patterns will likely emerge. It is my belief that web pages and even books will be written for us based upon our interests and searching patterns. Rather than trying to find static pages with a few comments, when we search, the service will look at our complete profile and then compose an article with all of the information we are looking for, with carefully placed product placement in the text itself. The next generation of search will be “find and buy.”

These pages that will be written just for me will be composed into a book that I carry around with me, a reference library for all of the answers that have been created just for me. And because no one will be looking at the exact same pages, each individual version of the answer will be shareable and “likable” which will further lead to the web knowing more about how to better cater to your needs.

Our social interaction around machine created content will be in discussing the products and ideas that have been produced specifically for the purpose of that interaction. And why not? We will be getting better answers, more specific results, and we will only have to read it from our own perspective. We could even choose to see the Internet from other’s viewpoints as a change of pace, just so long as we keep “liking” and sharing along the way.

The power of suggestion will be controlled by those that understand our trigger words best, just as they always have. I use “ice cream” with my children, sometimes as a reward and many times just to see their smiling faces. They love me for both, just as we will love those who share the world’s knowledge with us and give us carrot at the end for us to purchase. I’m not angry about this future. After all, they will be talking about all of the stuff that I already know and love.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


  1. jacquelinecahill

    Okay, here is an ipad compare/contrast question (not so much a conversation). I and a friend of mine are both in the market…well for numerous things…but this is about an ipad versus a laptop. Now, we both own desktops and neither of us at this very moment have the disposable income to purchase a laptop and an ipad. So, it is on my list to research them (I can't make this large of purchase just from what I hear yet it is a part of my decision-making process). You commented today that you can do almost everything on it…for people who are techy but not nearly as techy as you…would you recommend a laptop or an ipad if we can only have one mobile device and why? Thanks!

  2. If you are not interested in Jailbreaking (making it so you can
    download and install 3rd party applications) your iPad, then it is
    absolutely not going to be better to get an iPad. Right now, most of
    the things I need to do (including presenting, multitasking, editing
    Google Docs, etc.) are just workarounds. They are pretty easy to
    impliment, but you have to think through why you need to do them.

    Here is my prediction, however: In 6 months, an iPad will be able to
    do pretty much everything that a net book or laptop can do. Right now,
    laptops are going to be more capable, but every single week seems to
    bring more capabilities. Last week, my favorite desktop connection
    application just allowed me to connect from anywhere in the world
    through my google account. Next week, my favorite Google Docs viewing
    application will allow me to edit. These things are working really
    fast, but you do kind of have to be on the bleeding edge at the

Leave a Reply