Thoughts On Memorial Day….

Today, Stores across the country are having sales. Car dealerships are draped with red white and blue banners where I am. Many of our game websites offer us the chance to get lots more virtual coins, so we can have a shot at winning “the big one”.

The grocery store shelves are picked bare of hotdog and hamburger buns, the delis can hardly keep up with the demand for potato salad, and if you forgot to buy your charcoal, you might be out of luck.

And that is the nature of this day– that they have returned to the Earth, and to that source from which all things were born. That we who are here remember them. Some remember them with prayer, and flags, wreaths placed on their graves. Others remember them in celebration–living and enjoying time with family and friends, savoring the freedom that carries the highest price tag of all.

A MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE

For freedom requires not only personal responsibility, morality, and the assumption of duty before pleasure, payment before reward–freedom also requires, far more often than should be the case, the blood of our parents. Our children. Our spouses. The surest way to lose freedom, forever, is to forget that is IS a treasure, a gift, and must be guarded.

The surest way to lose freedom, and render the sacrifices of our fallen soldiers worse than meaningless, is for the common man to assume “somebody will fix it”. To assume that “the government” will preserve it. To assume that you are “doing your part” by voting, working, and paying taxes alone. These things are only the beginning of preserving this treasure.

Preserving freedom requires each and every citizen, of any nation, to resist at all costs ANY form of government intervention, social “justice”, or shaming that removes the inherent freedoms all are born with. We must be willing to say NO to tempting visions of “FREE” services–be they healthcare, student loans, housing–promised by governments.

Because a government, by its very nature, is a parasite. It does not create, it only consumes. It is, by its very nature, the antithesis of freedom–for it restricts, it regulates, it takes from some to give to others.

Does this mean we must have NO government? No–because there are some things that work best if done by one agency, in one place. But it DOES mean that to allow ourselves to rely on a government to provide those basic necessities required to live comfortably–or live at all–is a dangerous road to travel. Because the government consumes all things, without distinction. And the appetite of government is insatiable.

So whenever D.C.–or Any government seat says they will give you something free, remember: it is only free because someone else is paying in your place. And—what happens when the people run out of sustenance to feed this beast we have allowed to flourish in our midst?

And when we have been sacrificed to the beast that is our government–if there is a hereafter, and our fallen heroes are there….How can we apologize for the way we treated the treasure they died to preserve?

COLD ANGER – The Corporate U.S. Media Has Weaponized Against US… **FROM CONSERVATIVE TREEHOUSE**

“Donald Trump’s supporters are angry“, or “uneducated”, or “unenlightened”, or (Fill_In_The_Blank).  So goes the latest round of media talking points as the election draws n…

Source: COLD ANGER – The Corporate U.S. Media Has Weaponized Against US…

Public perception, Reality, And Narratives: The Tabula Rasa

In a long term project, there will be a certain amount of elegance involved simply because of the type of math that governs complex systems. Climate is an example of a complex system–in the short term, it can appear chaotic, or “fragile”–easily influenced by behavior within it. Taken in its proper context, however, in this case the amount of time Earth has been covered with life,  the available data shows that this is a meta-stable complex system, like the rest of the universe, and therefore unlikely to be derailed by the actions of those operating in a small subset or segment of the system.

Long term projects can be designed with tightly defined goals, broad goals or as an open ended project to be altered over time as it matures. If, for instance, you were in a “Foundation” situation, as laid out by Isaac Assimov, you would design a project that allowed for intervention at certain intervals, or had multiple elegant segments designed to be brought into play if certain combinations of events happened together.

The Foundation Series Overview.

Hari Seldon invented what he called “psychohistory” the branch of math that quantifies the behavior of large groups of people, and uses predictive analysis and scaling to determine “what happens next”. Seldon found that the Empire was dying, and that if intervention didn’t happen, the dark ages would last a long, long time. By carefully analyzing what he had available, he designed a series of elegant segments that could be used at certain points, “Seldon Crises”, that would yield a solution to the conditions at that time and shorten the time frame of the dark ages.

His tapes were stored in a vault at the Foundation facility, where the inhabitants were hard at work compiling a Galactic Encyclopedia. While they didn’t know it, their work was essentially a cover–a useful thing to do that preserved knowledge and encouraged maximum interaction among the planets, without endangering the project going on at the Second Foundation–the home of the math geeks.

This is an open ended project, as the final outcome was never revealed, and Seldon himself might not have seen what the final outcome was in terms of humanity. As such, on the “micro” scale–the individual planets of the empire and others–things seemed pretty disorganized and chaotic at times. But on the macro-scale, this was a meta-stable system, and very elegant given the extreme time frames. It should be noted that when Assimov wasn’t writing amazing science fiction, he was a noted scientist, mathematician and all around genius. So he knew his stuff.

A Long Term Single Focus Project

So, for the fun of it, let’s say you wanted to force a regime change in a country–perhaps because you have nothing better to do. Or maybe your a technocrat, who wants to rule the world and make it better through tech and math. Or maybe you’re a theocrat, with visions of a God centered world. Or a kleptocrat, who really has no interest in what kind of country you live in, as long as the trains are on time, you have power, and you’re making money.

If you made a physical model of your project, it would look like a flexible funnel; a long, slender one. Along the way, if the very large mass of people made choices that were counter narrative, the funnel would stay about the same diameter. However, as more and more people began complying with the narrative, the number of “safe” choices begins to decrease.

Once the project passes a critical point, the endgame is absolutely inevitable. Unless you managed to dispose of every person, company, organization and information source following the narrative, you can’t stop the endgame itself, because you’re in the neck of the funnel. The question then becomes not whether you can stop the endgame, but how you should counter the endgame to create the most desirable outcome, given the circumstances.

The Tabula Rasa–The Ultimate Hard Reboot.

Once a country has entered the neck of the funnel, there will be an endgame. Because when math and “reality” are at odds, math wins. This is where a Tabula Rasa segment is the only viable answer to the equation, the project in play at the time. A Tabula Rasa is a very specialized elegant meme, that is constructed for a specific project, unlike other forms of elegant memes. A Tabula Rasa has some specific characteristics:

  • It is as context free as possible. This is why it is called the Tabula Rasa, in this case; it’s a “blank slate”. A long term project that is designed to produce a specific outcome has built in balancing mechanisms–if the group does “A”, “B” will happen, through push back, blow back, or planned reaction. The project is also designed so that the most probable reactions can be seen well in advance, and planned for.
  • It can be carried on in isolated instances, randomly, or coordinated to happen in multiple places under set circumstances. This way, anyone, anywhere, who feels a local circumstance calls for this solution, they can use it with near zero instruction, zero experience, and no specialized equipment or preparation.
  • Because it has near zero contextual framing, it is easily internalized, rapidly personalized, and carries extreme psychological weighting. Thus, any attempt by the project team or the media to introduce a context will fail.
  • Beyond the aspect of contextual framing failing, this segment is also, like a defiance meme or a standard elegant meme, self-propagating.  It is designed to be seen as a low risk expression. And as it is full internalized and personalized, the subject “owns” it, the urge to use it is heightened.

Some Working Examples Of A Tabula Rasa

This type of segment can be written–a phrase like “Who Is John Galt?” would be an example, if placed in a zero context environment, such as block printed in black on a white wall. The human brain is a big fan of context–a lack of context creates subconscious “anxiety”. So the subject who sees this particular example and is not familiar with the reference, will feel a mild curiosity the first time they see it.

If they see it again, on another wall, or a billboard, the compulsion to investigate will grow. Eventually, after the third random sighting, they will begin to ask people what it means, and find their way to the original reference. With the context provided, the anxiety is gone.

Any symbol can serve as a basic Tabula Rasa segment, if it is one that is relatively unknown, and always placed in a different context free setting. The more unusual it is, the better it works. A Peace sign, for example, does NOT work, because everyone recognizes it. But if you were to research old symbols, and find the Egyptian hieroglyph for “peace” and begin scattering that around, and could make it go viral, it would serve a purpose. It would both distract the subjects from the ongoing project and the direct impact it has on them, and it would also allow them to fully identify with the perspective once they find the “answer”.

The act of searching for the answer and being frustrated causes the mind to speculate on what might be at the end of the quest. The quest becomes personal, something that takes on a magnified importance. And when the end is reached, the value of the “secret knowledge” has an exaggerated significance, proportional to the effort required to find it.

 

A Tabula Rasa that is designed for a specific type of event is more challenging, as context can’t be avoided, as a rule. When this is the case, the context still must be kept as close to zero as possible. Anything over 1 element dilutes the effect. So on the rare occasions you see a pure example, with no explanation given, it will typically have only one symbolic element.

Never Explain The Unexplainable!

Many people recognize the visceral impact of a symbol or group of like symbols, with no context. Like this Image by David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net:

Arlington

While this isn’t a pure Tabula Rasa, this picture of a military cemetery carries high psychological weight none the less. The Perspective is one of organized, regimented death. Because each stone is alike, each soldier, whether related to you or not, is internalized as “someone’s son or daughter, who died for my freedom”. The intent of this design is quite specific.

In a “civilian” cemetery, the symbols of “death” are personal–everything from simple headstones to weeping angels. These are individual people, and the stones and flowers are the personal perceptions of those who ordered them. They can also indicate social status, historical prominence, and other temporal attributes–for examples look at pictures of older cemeteries in the south and in the Northeast, where the Founding Families will often have elaborate crypts, inside fences, and there will frequently be sections–a “Jewish” section, a “pauper’s field”, etc. More than one PhD has been written when it comes to graveyard analysis :-).

In a military cemetery, the message is that all soldiers are of equal value. That death is not only inevitable, it is the great equalizer–the general may be placed next to the private. Here, we see the purest expression of military discipline–everything squared away,  impeccably maintained, ordered, cataloged, and inspection ready. Just as these soldiers stood in life, in formation awaiting the inspection of their commanding officer, they now are in formation in death.

The Perspective is one of order. The perception is personalized, internalized by those who visit the cemetery. For some, a military cemetery is far “creepier” then a private one–because it is so impersonal. Death is a creepy thing to begin with. Death with so little context can lead the mind into some very creepy places. To others, it is beautiful, often in a far more personal way than a private cemetery, precisely because they supply their own perception. And to the majority of people, a military cemetery produces a far more intense effect on the mind than a private one, like this one (Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net ):

cemetery2

Compare those two pictures yourself, and see which has a more powerful effect on you.

A Tabula Rasa with one contextual point is designed to fit very specific circumstances. And choosing the single context point is the hardest part of the design phase. The symbol most be one that is universally identifiable, but can still mean different things to different people depending on context. It has to be a symbol that can be fully internalized, and personalized. and any other context, such as a person holding a symbol, must be as neutral as possible.

A well designed segment of this type offers a strong symbol, with no contextual clues provided. As an example–the black monolith from the movie 2001:

What did it mean? More importantly–what did it mean to YOU? This was a very unique use of a Tabula Rasa, just as the ending sequence of the movie was. Beginning and ending a movie with something that is absolutely unexplained was a stroke of genius. If you asked 10000 people what they remembered the most from the movie, “the monolith”, and “the baby reaching out for Earth” or “the very end” would be the most common answers.

And every one of those people would likely offer you a different interpretation of them, also. Put a group of people together and ask them as a group what this means, and at the very least you’ll have an interesting dialogue. But the more likely result would be a rather heated discussion, with everyone defending their perception vigorously. And when the talking heads produce a documentary, with experts in symbology to tell you what the monolith and the baby mean, the result will inevitably be abysmal failure, simply because the odds of more than a small number of people agreeing on the meaning are vanishingly small.

In this case, Arthur Clarke himself said he had no idea what Stanley Kubrick was trying to say. And when Kubrick related what he had been trying to say, everyone disagreed with him. So, his personal project was an abject failure, but the Tabula Rasa he inadvertently created was a raving success.

When The Tabula Rasa Is Deployed:

It will just appear, from nowhere, with no explanation. As an example, a lone person, wearing only dark blue clothing, walks to the center of a grassy area in front of a public building and stands there. A few minutes later, he’s joined by someone else in dark blue, who stands an arm’s length away. Then a third. And a fourth.

By the time you get to six people in a row, passers by are stopping and watching.

When you get to a 6×6 square, people are taking video on smart phones, and tweeting. And in relatively short order, there is a news crew. When your display grows to 10×10, people begin moving into the display, trying to provoke reactions. Media are asking passers by for reactions, and trying to ask participants arriving what it is about.

When another display of the same type begins to form a distance away, the response time will be shorter, and the attempt to engage will be higher. And if displays of the same type begin appearing in other cities, the awareness and impact will be exponentially higher.

The debates will begin among the direct witnesses, and on twitter, and Facebook, and Reddit, but the odds are extremely small that the media will be able to successfully frame any narrative that is accepted by all, and disseminate it before it becomes invalid–because this segment  forces a rapid internalization by each subject, that then is personalized, and shared with others, creating massive discourse without consensus.

And when the right symbol is added to counter the project, the narrative is destroyed.

This is the essence of a successful Tabula Rasa segment–it derails the endgame for its target project because, from a very basic point of view, it takes two people to have an argument. And a project, at its deepest level, is an argument on one side of the equal sign, and a solution on the other. In this case, the base argument, the model, instead of being countered by a solution (like a demonstration, torches and pitchforks, tar and feathers, with arrests and other inevitable consequences) is countered by a cloud of infinite possibilities.

And as each person creates their own solution, the odds of the solution originally intended being accepted gets smaller–as do the odds that the project team’s planned counters for the planned actions of the people will be deployed at all.

 

 

Public Perception, Reality, And Narrative Part 3

In the last post, we showed a very simple project, that was designed to gauge employee attitudes towards a rule change in a work environment and also target potential thieves. A lot can be done with a single symbol, even in a simple project.

Constructing A Project 101:

In the field of mass perception management, projects are constructed with the specific goal of bringing about a particular perception of a group or event, within a given perspective. as an example of a complex project, let’s look at how to create a race war in your spare time for fun and profit.

  • Define the PERSPECTIVE SET. A given project might address anywhere from one to several perspectives, though the total number of perspectives should ideally be limited to 3; the two subject groups involved, and a disinterested observer. In the case of America, lets take one of the two major projects right now–BLM/White Privilege.
  • Define the PERCEPTION GOALS. You have decided on the perspectives you wish to change or manipulate, so now the question becomes defining what internal perceptions you want to create in the subjects. In the case of BLM/White Privilege, you want to create a pervasive resentment/ oppression in both subject sets, as well as the perception in each case that the “other guys” are: protected/privileged/manipulative/controlling/exploitative/dangerous/ a threat to a highly personal belief. The objective/ endgame is to create first isolated uprisings, then an eventual widespread conflict.
  • Examine the DISINTERESTED OBSERVER/NON-PARTICIPANT VIEW. In this case, the disinterested observer/non-participant would be framed as How does the rest of the world view the issue? In the context of the BLM/White Privilege project, it might surprise you to know this perspective was left “open”, in that there is nothing in the project construction to push either side of the project. Why is this the case? Because there are other project ongoing elsewhere, and by leaving this perspective open, the other projects can leverage these projects to further their own narrative. This is the most mathematically elegant way to handle a large scale project, and one of the reasons that conflicts on one area of the world can propagate so rapidly in others for no apparent reason. There’s that word, propagate…Arab Spring, anyone?
  • Model Design Phase 1 Begins: Once you have decided on the project parameters above, you get to the fun part. Teams of people with strong backgrounds in semiotics, symbology, memeology, and/or contextual framing begin combing through the immense databases and data point sets owned by the project designers, searching this data using a wide variety of classification codes and filters. Once they have a large enough data base for segment design to begin, the information is passed on to segment design teams.
  • Segment design teams then meet either in person or virtually, and use the design and outcome parameters to construct the full basic model framework, as an equation, and determine using  complicated software, Mighty Magic 8 Balls and fortunes from fortune cookies to find the smallest number of segments that will produce the widest number of combinations with the same outcome range.
  • Segment designers grab a pile of segments, and begin designing them.Some of these designers will only be working with text–creating social media posts, for example. Some design memes, others write the clickbait headlines, some produce the You Tube videos. The vast majority of segment designers work alone or with only one or two other people, and frequently have no idea if their work is going to be used at all, or what the end project is. And in many cases, a segment might seem to be entirely unrelated to the main project–a meme featuring a Trumpcat, for example, could be used in the BLM/White Privilege project easily (they have been), but the memer doesn’t know that. They only know they’re getting paid to make memes on different people or objects.
  • The Isolated Segment Testing Phase: In this phase, the individual segments of the model are carefully tested on a small scale, to observe any visible impact on the subject group.

As an example, a segment design team might take a story about a crime that was in the news in East Podunk, that was basically a non-issue; when you remove the contextual framing that is inherent in any event, the facts show that what happened is absolutely expected.

The Segment Test  Model: Car stalls out on train tracks. Silly driver panics and is so concerned about saving their property they stay in the car. Train splats car and driver. End of story. Before the advent of wide scale mass perception management, a story like this would literally be a small paragraph buried in the Podunk Picayune, and the locals would have said “well, that’s what thought gets you…” if the incident happened at all.

And if you read historic newspapers, you discover these deaths were almost unheard of, because people abandoned the car and saved their lives. When they did occur, they were big news.

However, lets say that in East Podunk, this has happened more than once at this crossing, because there is no crossing signal (and citizens in East Podunk have skewed priorities, created by cultural conditioning). Add in the natural desire of the community to prevent more people from being splatted by trains. Now add the state’s desire to get more federal funding, and that it’s an election year for an unpopular state Senator. The result is a news story that could be presented in a contextual framework like this:

“Amy FluffBunny here, reporting live from the Podunk Avenue rail crossing, where once again an innocent life was lost today…..yack yack human interest trigger: Candy Pureheart, young mother and beloved kindergarten teacher‘s car stalled while crossing the tracks, and she was unable to start her vehicle again before the approaching train hit her. She leaves behind three year old twins….

yack yack, statistics of other fatalities, insert grieving husband human interest trigger and call to action: We’re now at the home of Candy and Pierce Pureheart, where family and friends have gathered to offer emotional support to the grieving husband and father. Pierce, I’m sure I speak for all our viewers when I say my heart goes out to you tonight.

Thank you, Amy. This is such a terrible blow to our family…

Pierce, as you know, Candy’s tragic death is the latest in a long stream of deaths at the Podunk Avenue crossing. How does that make you feel?

Amy, before this happened to me, I was already trying to get a crossing signal installed there. I even spoke to the Podunk Board about it, and nobody listened. Now, I just want to tear this crazy system down. Too many people have died….

And there you have it, citizens of Podunk. Too many people have died, and the Podunk Board is silent.

Yack yack, story repeated every hour on the local feed of the most popular fair and balanced cable news network around, and discussed on talk radio. Yack Yack UPDATE:

This is Amy FluffBunny, reporting live from the state capitol where angry citizens are confronting a beleaguered state legislature regarding the tragic death of Candy Pureheart last week in East Podunk. I’m here with Jake Snakely the state Transportation director, to get his side of the story. Mr. Snakely, can you explain to our viewers why there is no crossing signal in East Podunk, despite the long string of tragic deaths ?

Well Amy, that is an excellent question. First i’d like to extend my condolences to Ms. Pureheart’s friends, coworkers and family in their time of grief. As the Director of Transportation, I feel a personal responsibility to all of the victims of senseless tragedies like this…yack, yack, 1 minute 30 second more of political talking points (It’s his election year as well). I would love to put a signal there, Amy.

However, the railroad crossing is under the federal jurisdiction, so my hands are tied. I have once again sent a letter to the federal DOT requesting action on this dangerous crossing, and I would also like to see our Senator personally use his influence to get action on this issue…yack, yack, (Transportation Director throws Senator under the political bus)….And Amy, the Governor has also asked our Senator to determine (doubling down on throwing Senator under the political bus) whether or not our request for more federal funding for road upkeep and a crossing signal, and the permits to install one, ( the Senator being told how much pork is expected to save his job) is being acted on…yack, yack…

The Segment Test Begins:

At this point, the story would be given a “click bait” headline on news sites–City officials silent in the face of tragic death…And one designed for Facebook– OMG, look what happened to this mother of twins (graphic content)…And for Twitter– WHERE ARE THE AUTHORITIES? CORRUPTION–R/T . Several different versions of the story from different news outlets would be posted on social media, from as wide a range of news sources as possible, and ideally would include at least one AP direct story (closet thing to just the facts) one left leaning, one right leaning, and one conspiracy/apocryphal site, each with different click bait headlines.

  • Monitoring teams then run semantic analysis on all of the comments in the various places this story surfaces, propagation analysis tracks how far and fast the story spreads, perception specialists monitor the change of headlines as subjects insert their own headlines on Facebook posts, and content/context analysts measure how fast the facts become distorted, while the perception specialists use predictive models to try and guess what facts will be distorted, and how.

In  this case, because the segment test is for a particular project, social media perception manipulators (TROLLS/paid posters) would insert carefully worded comments everywhere the story appeared, based on verifiable/ cited facts. For instance — “Well, railroad crossing signals were supposed to be part of OBUMMER’S SHOVEL READY JOBS…”. Or, “If the Podunk Avenue crossing was in the “right part of town”, there would have been a signal already. RIP Candy, prayers for the family..”

If the segment in question was a targeted segment for one side of the main project or the other, the actual news event would be chosen to reflect that, as would the semantic content and weighting of the comments seeded into the narrative on social media and news sites. This is where the TROLLS come into play, as opposed to paid posters. We’ll get into the main  differences in a later topic.

  • Segment testing ends and the results are analysed, coded, and verified. In a typical segment test, the tracking begins as soon as the data is seeded, and ends when there has been 48 hours of activity below the set “floor” for the segment. As an example, a segment that the designers are hoping will go viral might specify a “floor” of less than 5000 interactions in 12 hours. So when the segment goes below that floor, monitoring will continue until there has been no significant engagement for 48 hours, but the data set that will be analysed immediately will only cover the time it took for the story to begin propagating to the time it hit the floor.
  • The Segment Team Cost/Return Analysis Phase.The math geeks have equations that can determine from the initial size of the seed and the time it takes to hit the floor whether or not this story can be used in a model requiring a viral result, and if it can, how big the seed should be and how much it will cost to use this segment for that purpose. They can also game, using proven algorithms, whether organic propagation will work, and the time frame. They can determine whether the segment has a persistence value–meaning it’s one of those stories people will use later, even years later, in the context of a debate or argument. And whether that segment has contextual value–how useful would it be as a clip in another news story later, in places other than East Podunk?
  • Final Segment Analysis. The results of the above process are sent to/given to the project team leads. 

And even if the segment is considered not useful in this project–it’s still kept if it offers a unique equation, because you never throw away jig saw puzzle pieces. They may not fit this puzzle, but that doesn’t mean they won’t fit a future puzzle.

An interesting tidbit: some people really DO use Mighty Magic 8 Balls, fortunes from fortune cookies, the totals from fast food receipts, or other random variables to introduce organic chance components into a segment.

Next up: The Value of The Tabula Rasa Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Perception, Reality, and Narratives Part 2.

In the first lesson on Symbology and Semantic analysis, we looked at the opening minute of one of the last  pure “propaganda”  films produced by the government. Before we move on, consider what I just wrote.

Do words like “propaganda” make you uncomfortable?

Why? Because this is a weighted word. We have been taught that “propaganda” has a negative connotation. Here in America, the contextual frame for that word includes “communist”, “dictators”, “false”, “oppression”, and more.

But take a look at the ORIGINAL DEFINITION, ACCORDING TO OXFORD. It comes from the Latin, and simply means propagation/propagate in the verb form. You might chuckle when you see the original common usage :-).

To Spread Or Disseminate. To Breed. To Transmit Through a Medium. And in this case, the word is in quotations to inform you that it is a weighted term being used as a descriptor–so should either be taken in its original meaning (typically from the Latin), or disregarded when analyzing. *Observation*, must come from as neutral a perspective as possible. Just as any scientist must view their experiment objectively, and not allow their personal bias to color the interpretation of the result, someone analyzing a project must do the same.

But on to this first look at how powerful contextual framing can be. Here is a picture, Image courtesy of Goldy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net:

Finger1

The only context we have is a raised right index finger, apparently male, light blue button down shirt, black background. If you asked 1000 random people to write a caption for this picture, you could, conceivably, end up with 1000 entirely different perspectives, and hundreds of different perception frames.

A *Perspective* would be what the picture means. What is this saying?  A Perception frame gives you clues as to how the subject internalized it. How did the subject “own” this? What does it say about their psychological viewpoint? So in this case, one person might caption this:

“Hey! Coffee Lady! The Usual!”  This gives us a Perspective of ordering something or asking, a “signal”. It gives us little Perception about the subject, other than the fact they are a probable coffee drinker and a creature of habit.

IF we include the finger as a quantity, we can also assume that this subject has in the past ordered “the usual” for more than one person–though this probability would be regarded as highly questionable, unless we had other information on the subject to support it.

Another Caption might be ” Teacher, I really need to gooo…” This gives us a Perspective of a notification coupled to a fairly urgent request–that is passive/agressive. The Perception in this case is very interesting. This person would likely be a male subordinate, in a highly controlled environment, that is expressing a level of irritation/resentment and likely feels unappreciated, if they are an American.

This particular perception is based on the standard cultural profile for America, as in most adult  work environments where a shirt like this would be worn, the subject would just get up and quietly leave without asking permission. Even in highly regulated work environments like call centers, you wouldn’t see this type of rigidity when informing a floor manager, for instance, that you needed to get up. You wouldn’t typically see a caption using this “childish” semantic structure, either.

Given the choice of words,  we have to take the infamous finger into account, also.

The finger, when coupled with the deliberate language choice, shows the subject is  expressing his resentment in a passive/aggressive fashion, as in elementary schools in certain regions of the country some decades ago, the student would signal the need to go to the bathroom by holding up either a #1, or a #2, so the teacher would know how long they would be gone.

If we were deconstructing a group of captions submitted by a large company for analysis, and had been asked to scale the captions to find potential thieves or saboteurs, this subject would get tagged.

He is probably a cubicle inhabitant who is feeling  resentful. He/she (though the odds this is a woman are quite small, as women don’t typically express their resentment in “potty terms”) has probably been written up more than once for things that are against policy that they consider to be “stupid”. The odds are high this subject’s write-ups were break related, and the latest one would have warned of possible suspension or other wage related punitive measures.

And yep–this is the guy who stole the stapler ;-).

Context is everything. A context free picture for captioning would be the simple outline of the hand in this picture, on a white background. This would allow for the best analysis of the captions, as the subject would be providing ALL of the context. This particular project was aimed at a particular subject group–employees in a service business.

The Back Story Behind This Example…

Some time ago in a telephone survey company in middle America, HR felt that too many employees were just logging off their phones to take bathroom breaks, and decided  to require employees to raise their hand when they needed a 3 minute break. They assumed this would cut down on people taking unnecessary breaks, as the employee would be publicly telling everyone they had to go to the bathroom. The time they chose was based on the size of the call center floor, locations of restrooms, and the average time employees were logging off. They were also experiencing an uptick in petty theft of supplies.

So, they ordered a project that would do two things–get the employees’ perceptions of the new rule, and also reveal the likely supply thieves. They then posted the project in the break rooms, in the company newsletter, and on their internal email/social network system, in the form of a “fun contest”, with minor prizes to be awarded for the “best” captions.

The context of the project was designed to encourage maximum engagement from the employees, but beyond that, the number of captions submitted by each employee can be used as an indicator of employee dissatisfaction. A happy, engaged employee might submit more than one caption, but when all the captions that employee submits are considered as a group, we can determine they are just an enthusiastic team player. And UNHAPPY employee on the other hand, might also submit more than one caption–but they would as a group show the employee was unhappy.

The resulting analysis indicated that they had far more disgruntled employees than they thought, that the new rule was actually causing a measurable backlash effect that increased the loss of work time to bathroom breaks, and correctly identified over a dozen thieves.

They ditched the rule–and the thieves.

Next, We’ll look at how the objective of a project determines the level of context and type of context included, and the importance of framing a project that allows for high internalization when dealing with mass perception management.