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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Predictive Opinion Mining

NextStage is looking for funded researchers to collaborate on a study into predicting the opinions of groups.

We are currently developing a set of tools that (we're guessing) will fall into the “opinion mining” or “opinion forecasting” or some such camps. Although we're not sure where it will land we are confident we can do it. Think of it as drilling a few exploratory mines in current public opinion resources (blogs, tweets, timelines, etc) and being able to determine where and when you'll strike future opinion gold.

We make use of elements of an existing tool, NSPE – NextStage Predictive Echo (scans web server logs and previous web pages to determine how visitors were thinking, determines how much of your audience was getting your message historically, then makes suggestions for your next design efforts), some concepts from psycho-acoustics, neurocognitive resource distribution and pieces of the de Broglie-Bohm Theory.

As usual, we blend.

Long Story Short

We've figured out how to isolate the so-called “wisdom of the crowd” on just about any topic in public consciousness/awareness. We then perform various mathematical techniques to extract waning opinion before it's publicly noticeable, waxing opinion ditto, extremist thinking, influencers on the rise/wane, do opinion averaging (influence/common wisdom through time), …

Think of it as walking through Times Square and being awash in all the noise of people's chatter, traffic, hucksters, sirens, ringing cellphones, walking tours and tour buses, and being able to isolate any single voice or collection of voices and listen to it closely, literally finding and hearing the voice in a crowd, except the voice is an opinion, and you get the idea.

We're looking for funded researchers with large amounts of validated online data (past online conversations/discussions about a then future event, the event happened, conversation/discussion continued). Selected researchers/organizations will have first/proprietary access to the completed tool for a mutually agreed to period of time.

Please contact NextStage if you're interested. Thanks.

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NextStage Evolution Research Brief – The Basics for Forming Strong, Lasting Social Networks

Basis: This publication documents an ongoing (ten years to date) study of social network lifecycles and what is required for any given social network to thrive.

Background: The number of extant social networks increases along well-defined rules that are dependent on the number of social media channels and the technology required to access any given social network. This translates to a change in the past ten years from a few social media channels with a diversity of internal networks to a diversity of social networks each with their own social media channel.

Whenever there's a proliferation of similar organisms the laws of evolution kick in with an unmatchable ferocity. A few social media channels with a diversity of internal networks demonstrated a user preference for the interface (usability) above the information (content value). A diversity of social networks each with their own social media channel demonstrates cladic growth that in turn is subject to evolutionary methods.

This is demonstrated in both online and offline worlds in how social networks form, grow, die and evolve into new social networks. Note that for the purposes of this study social network “stability” is defined as a creation-evolution cycle, meaning the social network thrives (a YouTube video that receives 1MM hits in two days then fades into oblivion does not constitute a thriving social network). “Healthy” networks are those that grow while maintaining focus and direction. “Vital” information is information required to keep a conversation going.

Objective: To determine if any specific requirements exist for the health of social networks regardless of social media channels (what is required for healthy fish regardless of the pond they're in?).

Method: This research is an outgrowth of NextStage's previous and ongoing social network studies, and is built on the mid 1980s-1990s cultural anthropology studies performed on such social networks as CompuServ, AOL, Genie and the like.

Five hundred differentiable areas of interest were identified across automotive, destination, entertainment, food, motorcycle, science and travel meta-networks. Similarities of subject matter (content, focus), contributor (voice, style, tone, knowledge-base, experiential-base, post/comment frequency), structure (interface, posting requirements/mechanics, alerting mechanism) and visitor (income level, education level, geographic location, life experience, age, gender) were isolated and routinely measured to determine social network mechanics.

Results:The greatest factors contributing to the longevity of a social network regardless of social medium are

  1. Three “golden ratios”
    • The ratio of contributors to entire network population must be between 1:100 and 1:30. Social networks with contributor to population ratios in this realm demonstrate a reasonable dialogue is taking place. Fewer indicates unguided conversations, greater indicates a dearth of vital information.
    • The ratio of influencers to entire network population must be greater than 1:3,000. Influencers are required to inject source-recognized vital information to generate discussions among network participants.
    • The ratio of influencers to contributors should be within a few points of 1:100. Greater and there aren't enough “Watsons” to support the “Holmses”, fewer and there are too many “Watsons” (see Another Ommaric Intersection – Holmses&Watsons).
  2. The regular injection of vital information
    • Vital information must be “forward thinking” information. It must recognize a community challenge and offer direction for its solution. It does not need to solve the challenge, only demonstrate a possible solution path. Consensus solutions indicate there's nothing left to talk about and are death to social networks until a new challenge is identified.
    • Injection to general conversation ratios should be within a few points of 1:55. Fewer and the conversation collapses, greater and the conversation becomes confusing.
    • Networks without regular injections of vital information first stagnate and eventually collapse.
      • The collapse speed is related to the size of the network. Larger networks collapse more quickly (relative to their size) than smaller networks due to higher social bonding factors usually present in smaller social networks.
    • Too many or ill-timed vital information injections cause confusion in the general population. This confusion translates to
      • a decrease in the general population.
      • an increase in the level of conversation among the “literati”. Note that this is a demonstration of a stable, evolving network.
  3. The information gradient (dispersion vector) should be directly proportional to the size of the network.

Key TakeAways: Brands (and others) wishing to maintain stable, healthy and growing social networks should focus their efforts on maintaining the necessary mix of

  • influencers, contributors and visitors to insure necessary conversation ratios
  • general comment to vital information posts/comments to insure necessary social growth incentive ratios

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