Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation Now Available on Amazon

First, we appreciate everyone’s patience while we got this volume out.
And now, from Holly Buchanan‘s Foreword to the book…

Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and ExpectationAfter inhaling Reading Virtual Minds Volume I I was like an antsy 3-year old waiting for Reading Virtual Minds Volume II. It did not disappoint.
I love the way Joseph Carrabis thinks. He has a unique ability to share broad rich theory with actionable specifics. Unlike many technical writers, he has a unique voice that is both approachable and humorous. It makes for an enjoyable read.
But what’s the main reason why you should read Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experiences and Expectations? Because where most companies and designers fail is on the expectation front.

Humans are designed as expectation engines.

This is, perhaps, the most important sentence in this book. One of the main points Joseph makes in this volume is this – Understand your audiences’ whys and you’ll design near perfect whats.
Design failures come from getting the whys wrong. That can lead to failures on the experience side, but also on the expectation side. And that can be the bigger problem.

Expectation is a top-down process. Higher-level information informs lower-level processing. Experience is a bottom-up process. Sensory information goes into higher-level processing for evaluation. Humans are designed as expectation engines. Topdown connections out number bottom-up connections by about 10:1.

Why is this so important?

In language, more than anywhere else, we see or hear what we expect to hear, not necessarily what is said or written. Across all cultures and languages, neurophysiologists and psychologists estimate that what we experience is as much as 85% what we expect to experience, not necessarily what is real or ‘environmentally available’.


When people expect A and get B they go through a few moments of fugue. External reality is not synching up with internal reality and the mind and brain will, if allowed, burn themselves out making the two mesh.

Get your consumer/visitor/user experience AND expectation right, get their why right, and you’ll be exponentially more successful.

Here are just a few of the goodies you’ll find in this book:

  • Privacy vs. value exchange and when to ask for what information. Joseph has some actionable specifics on this that will surprise you.
  • Why we design for false attractors rather than the real problem.
  • The importance of understanding convincer strategies. Convincer strategies are the internal processes people go through in order to convince themselves they should or should not do something.
  • Companies spend a lot of time trying to convince consumers to trust them. But what may be even more important is understanding how to let consumers you know you trust them. This book has ideas on how to show your customers/users/visitors, “I believe in you”.
  • How often our own experience influence our designs. Unless you’re able to throw all your experience out, and let the user’s experience in, get out of the usability and design business.
  • How to allow your visitors easy Anonymous-Expressive Identity and make them yours forever.
  • Regarding new material, design, interface, the importance of making sure your suggestions provide a clear path to the past (thus being risk averse while providing marketable innovation).

As always, Reading Virtual Minds provides specific actionable ideas. But it will also make you think and approach your work in a new way. And I think that’s the best reason to treat yourself to this book and the inner workings of NextStage and Joseph Carrabis.

(and we never argue with Holly Buchanan…)

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Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th edition

It’s with great pleasure and a little pride that we announce Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat “4th EDITION” part is important. We know lots of people are waiting for Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation and it’s next in the queue.

But until then…

Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION is about 100 pages longer than the previous editions and about 10$US cheaper. Why? Because Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation is next in the queue.

Some Notes About This Book

I’m actually writing Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation right now. In the process of doing that, we realized we needed to add an index to this book. We also wanted to make a full color ebook version available to NextStage Members (it’s a download on the Member welcome page. And if you’re not already a member, what are you waiting for?)

In the process of making a full color version, we realized we’d misplaced some of the original slides and, of course, the charting software had changed since we originally published this volume (same information, different charting system). Also Susan and Jennifer “The Editress” Day wanted the images standardized as much as possible.

We included an Appendix B – Proofs (starting on page 187) for the curious and updated Appendix C – Further Readings (starting on page 236). We migrated a blog used for reference purposes so there may be more or less reference sources and modified some sections with more recent information.

So this edition has a few more pages and a few different pages. It may have an extra quote or two floating around.

You also need to know that Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History is a “Let’s explore the possibilities” book, not a “How to do it” book. As such, it deals with how NextStage did it (not to mention things that happened along the way). It does not explain how you can do it. This book’s purpose is to open a new territory to you and give you some basic tools for exploration.

There are no magic bullets, quick fixes, simple demonstrations, et cetera, that will turn you into jedis, gurus, kings, queens, samurai, rock stars, mavens, heroes, thought leaders, so on and so forth.

How to Do It starts with Volume II: Experience and Expectation and continues through future volumes in this series. We’ve included a Volume II: Experience and Expectation preview with a How to Do It example on page 302 so you can take a peek if that’s your interest.

That noted, I’m quite sure that you won’t get the full benefit of future volumes without reading this one because unless you’ve read this one you won’t understand the territory you’re exploring in those future volumes.

Reading Virtual Minds V1: Science and History, 4th edThat’s Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History, 4th EDITION. It’s so good and so good for you! Buy a copy or two today!

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NextStage Evolution Research Brief – The Importance of Brand as it Relates to Product v Feature Diversity and MarketShare

NextStage routinely makes its research available to Members. Research that's been published in the Members area for more than a year will be moved here, to The Analytics Ecology, as time and tide allow.


This publication reports on an ongoing (sixteen years to date) study of market fluctuations due to decreases in product/service versus feature diversity resulting in increased marketshare.


Markets arise under two conditions:

  • Products or services are developed that meet a specific need within a given population
  • Existing products or services are redefined or modified to meet the expectations within a given population

Emerging markets move from need-based to expectation-based in direct relation to the spread of product/service information within the given population. Note that this replaces the “adopter” model with a social contagion model — markets increase proportionally to the information level within a market. Early adopters are individuals who require minimal social information about a product/service, late adopters are those who require maximal social information in order to become market members.

Markets establish themselves when multiple vendors recognize possible revenue sources and expend resources to first enter then maintain marketshare. Traditionally market establishment followed an organic dispersement model due to minimal channels (information transmission vectors). The past sixteen years has seen an explosion of channels.

The traditional model dictates that the vendor able to saturate a market's chosen channels will claim more marketshare. However, channels are proliferating with the end result that vendors must create their own channels to insure controlled information dispersion.

The social contagion model dictates that an uncontrollable information exchange be met with decreased marketshare and decreased product/service diversity while proliferating features and brands to meet consumers at different social contagion levels within the market population.


To determine if branding concepts, product/service or feature diversity is more adept at establishing marketshare in socially engaged markets.


Eleven markets (agri, auto, construction, home electronics, personal apparel, personal communications, pharma, real estate, recreation, sports, travel) were observed from Jan 1995 to Jan 2011. Analysis was done on vendors in those markets, messaging, market reach, marketshare, channeling, brand imaging and management shifts.


  • Brand allure continues to play a role in marketshare
  • However brand allure is rapidly giving way to feature diversity (the brand that supports the largest feature set wins)
  • Feature diversity is becoming the new standard for opening markets and increasing marketshare, especially when features are tailored to a given market
  • Feature diversity benefits are increasingly communicated socially rather than through “traditional” channels
  • Product/service diversity benefits are decreasingly communicated socially although they maintain their place in “traditional” channels

Key TakeAways:

  • Brands able to demonstrate the greatest feature diversity within a market will maintain the greatest share of that market moving forward
  • Emerging markets will best be captured/maintained by products/services that are app enhanceable rather than those coming with a diversity of built-in features
  • There will be an increasing move to “app platform” devices as feature diversity moves from “what x can do out of the box” to “tailoring x to do what you want”
  • This app platform move will be the vector of future market segmentation