Friday, March 1, 2013

Designing "shopping"


On the  NY Times, a candid look at how corporations learn from human behavior:
The reason Target can snoop on our shopping habits is that, over the past two decades, the science of habit formation has become a major field of research in neurology and psychology departments at hundreds of major medical centers and universities, as well as inside extremely well financed corporate labs (...) One study from Duke University estimated that habits, rather than conscious decision-making, shape 45 percent of the choices we make every day, and recent discoveries have begun to change everything from the way we think about dieting to how doctors conceive treatments for anxiety, depression and addictions.
And how corporations get into the habit forming business? It turns by making you believe you make the choice! 
With the pregnancy products, though, we learned that some women react badly,” the executive said. “Then we started mixing in all these ads for things we knew pregnant women would never buy, so the baby ads looked random. We’d put an ad for a lawn mower next to diapers. We’d put a coupon for wineglasses next to infant clothes. That way, it looked like all the products were chosen by chance. “And we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons. She just assumes that everyone else on her block got the same mailer for diapers and cribs. As long as we don’t spook her, it works.
Didn't you know this already?


I see it differently. Though they play the paternalistic game, corporations understand that we live in bad faith. They mine on it and, by default, get us in the end.

Being a "consumer" means pretending independence.

Let's look again at this cycle of consumer's bad faith: You know you are being spied on, so you choose to play a game of "consumer independence," falling for the pretense that this time it's your choice? (not the corporation's?). Bunk.

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