Treated myself to this book on a whim in Ilford yesterday. So far I’m quite taken with it. The author has obviously been advised that she needs to blog and even twitter to help promote the book. I even got time limited (45 days) access to an online version of the book via Safari Books. So this is book 2.0 I suppose.
I intend exploring some of my reactions and responses to the book here on the blog as I try to tease out my significant learning. Time I got back to using this blog as a learning journal and stopped pretending that I’m not learning anything these days!
“I’d wike a horse
One take-away from the book is the notion that you can get what you want by if you first ask for more than you really want and when that’s denied follow it up by requesting the thing you wanted in the first place. Susan argues that this works because you’ve accepted the ‘no’ you’ve induced a feeling of indebtedness in the other party. This leaves them
with a need to give you something in return. So when you ask for what you really wanted it seems quite reasonable for them to let you have it. Now I know this isn’t rocket science, as this tweet suggests kids, and advertisers, have known this for years.
What interests me is what this means on the web. The book suggests that all humans have an inbuilt need to ‘even the score’ and not to be indebted to each other. It is suggested that this need is hard wired and operates at the unconscious level. She looks at how ‘giving gifts’ like free information can leave readers with this sense of indebtedness. She then suggests that higher levels of indebtedness can be induced by giving something that’s perceived to have even a token monetary value. You can then use this sense of indebtedness to get the reader to do something for you, perhaps fill in a form, give up their email address, join a mailing list. So far so good.
My problem with this interpretation is that I’m not sure it’s universal. I am not sure that this is how UK web users feel or behave. Web users here seem to have an innate sense that information online should be free. If it’s been put online it is available for them to read and they don’t feel obliged to whoever put it there. I include myself in this interpretation. I’m always amazed by US bloggers who ask readers to buy them a cup of coffee or even a beer and claim they make money that way.
I explored this in some depth with members of ukcider in some research I did about the free model for online communities of practice. It was very clear that this feeling of indebtedness, although it did to a small extent exist, did not make them willing open their wallets. The feelings of obligation were to the community, or to the individual responsible for adding specific items of information. Whilst all the participants valued the efforts of their facilitator to provide the community with resources and web space there was little sense of a need to repay any indebtedness.
I thought it was probably a cultural difference with UK and US audiences. I’m intrigued by the idea that I’m wrong (shock horror!) and I need to re-examine my assumptions about this.