We no longer access media, but are instead accessed by it.

What and where, but no who or why

Jung dealt with the collective unconscious and alter egos. After McLuhan, we experience collective consciousness and alter ids. The previous mechanical age was one of internal stability; ours is inhabited by Painted Birds trapped in a strange land.

The metaphor for those coming of age in post- industrial America was “a generation lost in space,” for out there was where it was at. NASA represented the pinnacle of human achievement and Marketing tried hard to tie in to that. Being able to claim that a product was “space age” was even better than if it was blessed by the Pope. The contemporary final frontier is the kingdom within and Neuroscience is the instrument used to probe that. Now NASA needs Marketing that would make a Barnum blush.

Through the surging sea of wireless signals, we no longer access media, but are instead accessed by it. Submerged in and permeated by this noosphere, our mental metabolism needs to work, not to acquire, but to avoid dissolving. People everywhere are regularly exposed to a range of ideas, images, and experiences that previously only a world traveler could hope to match. Much current advertising is based on the assumption that a general audience can be expected to be – at least subliminally – familiar with hard core porn.

The space family Robinsons of yesterday have left and gone away. Today’s pioneers are the Burroughs-esque My Favorite Martians crash-landed here, but through antennas to the brain able to traverse other times and minds. Via Telstar broadcast, people across the globe appeared in our homes by the medium of television. By Internet immersion, we channel and transmute spirits and ideas. The Black Angels of Austin in many senses are The Velvet Underground of New York City fifty years ago.

With the current fusion of mind and electronics, trying to craft media by content and demographics is as doomed to failure as were cavalry charges against the Blitzkrieg. Constantly supplied with a shifting set of histories and experiences, any particular individual can assume one personality one day and another, the next. By the time poll data is tabulated the yield is a series of mistaken identities. The result of what’s essentially futile navigation by a confused compass at the North Pole can be seen in radio which tries to move forward either by jumping in place or by banging its head against the ground. Another example is the strange attempt to shovel what are basically television soap opera commercials onto the Web; here we have history repeating itself simultaneously as tragedy and farce. The radio audience relocated to TV. TV viewers did not just shift their attention to the Web, but essentially changed into something else entirely.

Does the number of Twitter followers have predictive value?

Below are the Twitter follower tallies for some names in the news. Does a high number of Twitter followers predict an election win? And for celebrities, is the Twitter count a “market quote” for endorsements?

# # #

Chris Christie 134,755
Paul Ryan 195,632
Bruce Springsteen 251,558
Sarah Palin 817,362
Mitt Romney 854,919
Jeremy Lin 879,625
Tim Tebow 1,808,667
Barack Obama 18,565,514
Lady Gaga 28,397,806

New and improved Neuromarketing or Brand X Motivational Research?

Much of what’s getting touted as Neuromarketing is neither new nor neuro. Sometimes, tried and true marketing methods are getting “reincarnated” in Cognitive Science terminology. And that’s the good news. The bad news is that Motivational Research discredited and discarded a half century ago is being recycled.

The designers of primitive ads from the ‘20s and ‘30s with cartoon line drawings and kapow copy — e.g. Charles Atlas and the bully of the beach – perfectly understood the use of fear and greed (avoidance and approach). Adolf Hitler, that practitioner of American snake oil peddler / preacher sales techniques (as so impressed Wizard of Oz Watson) succinctly explained the need to target the emotions:
“[Propaganda] must be aimed at the emotions and only to a very limited degree at the so-called intellect… The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses.”
– Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp. 180

Disruption really refers to two very different things: cognitive dissonance and dissociation / automaticity. Cognitive dissonance affects the schemas and dissociation / automaticity sculpts identity and habit through memory. Though both are not necessarily conscious, there’s nothing primitive, much less reptilian, about either of the processes.

And when it comes to rampant confusion with neural anatomy and emotions, it’s really leapin’ lizards with the Neuro and other new Marketing gurus. The amygdala is part of the limbic system, not the reptilian complex. For Neurobiology, the emotions are not some primeval relics, but are instead some of a number of important instruments in the concert that is consciousness.