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Hey everyone, I’m in the process of working through the draft of my argument for my paper, and would love to get some feedback. This is all very rough, so feel free to ask for clarification on anything that doesn’t make sense. As a point of reference, I plan to take the ultimate findings from the process of writing this paper (namely the schema and/or persuasive patterns I uncover from my research) to inform the latter half of my capstone project on Dark Patterns.


Transactional trust towards a charity is earned over time, not inherently given, and is a byproduct of interactions that occur within the context of a user’s donation experience. (THE WHAT)

  • Trust is built through the fulfillment of promises. This includes the promises you’ve actually made to someone explicitly (e.g., contracts and commitments) as well promises that that are assumed or implicit (e.g., “this website isn’t selling my data”). (van Gorp and Adams, p107)
  • Principle of Earned Credibility: Credibility can be strengthened over time if computing technology performs consistently in accordance with the user’s expectations. (Fogg, p137)
  • The building and maintenance of transactional trust should be considered a pivotal stepping stone to increased donation compliance within an online donating framework. Instead of considering trust and donation compliance as mutually exclusive concepts, commercially driven issues of donation generation should be considered alongside the psychological concept of transactional trust. (Burt, C.D. and Gibbons, S. p192)

The trailing of charity websites to adopt modern e-commerce practices, coupled with the rapid rise of moral commodification of charitable giving has resulted in a unique set of problems of persuasion with respect to interface design. (THE WHY)

  • [G]iving to charity has been characterised as ‘the monetary purchase of moral satisfaction’ undertaken for the egoistic reason of wanting to feel better…The gift conveys a symbolic statement about the person that fits in with his or her self-identify. (Bennett, p120)
  • Overall the findings indicated that there was a lack of strategic intent to harness the potential of online social networks and evidence that charities are not mirroring the adoption of digital media that has occurred in the external environment in which they operate (Slater et al., 2010). There exists a lack of consumer orientation because charities have not embraced digital communications to the same extent as either their target audiences or for-profit based businesses. (Quinton and Fennemore, pp 44-45)
  • In the USA, internet donations for tsunami relief in 2004 accounted for more than a third of the total amount raised. Half of all the donations received following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were given online (NFG, 2006). It follows from the above that charity managers have become increasingly interested in the website designs and online fundraising tactics that are most likely to maximise the frequencies and levels of online donations. (Bennett, p117)
  • …[I]t is recognized by some (but perhaps not all) that charities are not businesses and therefore reading across and imposing private sector governance frameworks to the charity sector may not be appropriate, and indeed may be counter-productive. (Hyndman and Jones, p153)
  • A needs-based change, animated through a problem-solving approach, assumes that the right outcome is known from the start…Desire is the destabilizing trigger for transformational change, which facilitates the emergence of new possibilities and realizations of human “being.” (Nelson and Stolterman, p110)

A semiotic analysis of the design patterns used in charity websites will yield greater insight into their functions of address, and how the emotive modalities of a website (i.e. its interactivity) can establish a relationship between the donor and the charity. (THE HOW)

  • The ability to use various modalities enables technology to match people’s preferences for visual, audio, or textual experiences. Technology can also create a synergistic effect by combining modes, such as audio, video, and data, during an interaction to produce the optimum persuasive impact. (Fogg, p9)
  • Wider information, particularly relating to performance, is probably paramount in discharging accountability to donors; and this will require the telling of ‘the story’ of the charity (often from the perspective of beneficiaries—if it is possible to operationlize such a perspective. (Hyndman and Jones, p152)
  • Principle of Surface Credibility: People make initial assessments of the credibility of computing technology based on firsthand inspection of surface traits like layout and density of ads. (Fogg, p135)
  • As Forlizzi and Battarbee (2004, p. 264) put it, “emotions affect how we plan to interact with products, how we actually interact with products, and the perceptions and outcomes that surround those interactions.” (van Gorp and Adams, p39)

A framework is needed to better understand the user cognitive patterns that emerge in context, resulting in effective emotive persuasion. (THE CONTRIBUTION) 

  • Principle of “Real-World Feel”: A Web site will have more credibility if it highlights the people or organization behind the content and services it provides. (Fogg, p156)
  • [There are] four developmental stages of organisational websites: contact, interact, transact and relate. At the ‘contact’ level, websites are largely about promoting an image and providing general levels information; at the ‘interact’ level, there is evidence of of targeting specific audiences; at the ‘transactional’ engagement level, websites facilitate online purchasing; and at the ‘relational’ level, sites develop two‐way consumer relationships. (Burt and Gibbons, p192)
  • [There are] strong positive correlations between rated transactional trust and donation compliance ratings…consistent with the idea that building transactional trust in an aid agency is likely to lead to more productive fundraising outcomes (Burt and Gibbons, p191)


I’ll post more about my influential sources and such later…but this is where I’m at right now.



Earlier this week, Oculus VR, a company that has been producing Virtual Reality headsets to developers and other enthusiasts with the intent to release it to the public at a later date announced it would get purchased by Facebook. Many people on the internet have expressed their displeasure of Facebook purchasing Oculus. I want to take a brief look at these things through the lens of semiotics, focusing on the form of Kickstarter and how it influenced these behaviors.  I don’t have an Oculus Rift.

Two years ago, Oculus allowed individuals to support the company by engaging in a Kickstarter. Kickstarter is an interesting design because of the relationship that forms as a result between the the individual or company requesting money and the the person contributing money. This forms the Kickstarter address and its form. Kickstarter’s design has an interesting addressee. The addressee for Kickstarter are these individuals who want to support visions and want to make changes to their world by contributing money and effort. While choosing to purchase a product at a store also supports the company in a similar way. The key difference between these two examples is that the Kickstarter’s design highlights this support and vision-making. Kickstarter Backers have bought into this vision that the individual or company is proposing.

Kickstarter has several design features that allow its form to support this distinct relationship. First and the most important is forcing the creator to create a video for their proposal. These video tend to have the individuals speaking to the viewer and arguing on why they should support their cause. One could go deeper into the semiotics of just Kickstarter videos. Another form that kickstarters tend to have are updates. Creators can create updates throughout the duration the campaign which encourages a dialog between the backers and the creator as the project moves forward. As I mentioned, there is also a duration aspect to kickstarter which encourages a sense of urgency to both the backers and the creator. If they don’t make the money in the amount of time, they will not receive any of it and their vision will not succeed. Another aspect of the form of the Kickstarter is that the total amount of money is displayed publicly to the world. It creates excitement by allowing users see how they get closer and closer to their goals by putting the current amount just above the amount that is being requested. Finally, Oculus announced its kickstarter in a time period of huge excitement for Kickstarter. To many at the time, Kickstarter was very novel and this created a strong excitement around this device.


Originally, I was going to talk about the other aspects of this through the Semiotics lens, but this blog post is getting a little long so I might do another blog post later.

So my post is based off of Manali’s post below. I remember watching “The Devil Wears Prada” and thinking that Streep’s character looks really good and intimidating. There is no doubt she is the woman on the top. Her dress (voice and demeanor) in the movie all speaks to that. She very much embodies the “Executive Woman”.

After reading Manali’s post, it made me remember the movie and my impression of Meryl Streep at the Oscars for that movie “The Devil Wears Prada”. She does wear Prada on the red carpet but the look is very different. The image is here:

I remember my first impression of seeing the red carpet Meryl Streep and I remember thinking how “dumpy” she looks compared to her character. It kind of seemed wrong that her character looked so fashionable and put together and here she is on the red carpet, at the Oscars and she looks frumpy.

But now that I look at the image again (and having an idea of how Meryl Streep tend to dress on the carpet and the semiotic exercise we did), I actually quite admire her for her dress. She rarely dresses in the “Hollywood glamor” even though she does wear designers, but I feel like this allows her to be a bit more personable. It makes her seem like she is comfortable in her skin. She is still presentable but she will wear what makes her comfortable and she doesn’t really care how the media perceives her. People know she is good at what she does. The “sex appeal” image is also something that she doesn’t want to go for. She still seems like a person you can talk to (if you aren’t overwhelmed that she really is a really talented actress).

During Tuesday’s class Jeff talked about how HCI messes up the notion of the User. We didn’t really go into it all that much, but it really piqued my interest. I think Jeff was bringing up the User as being defined as Addressee or Receiver, and the effect of understanding the User in each office.

The Thwaite reading defines Addressee and Receiver as the following:

“Sender and receiver are actual people. Addresser and addressee, on the other hand, are purely constructions of signs. They are like fictional characters in that they have no existence other than in signs, and they may bear very little resemblance to the actual sender and receiver.” (p.17)

To me, what Jeff was talking about, although briefly, is this struggle between constructing fictional characters (The User) and responding to the actual people who use the design in the real world. The idea that these fictional characters as users can be highly different or “bear little resemblance” to the actual users (receivers) of the design is problematic on a fundamental level. In current HCI discourse and practice, it seems more likely to encounter design for User as Addressee than it is User as Receiver.

What is problematic about this, to me, is that activity of constructing the fictional character that represents the User. This sounds an awfully lot like a persona, something against which I have been preaching since day one in IDP. Constructing an idea of a person is no simple task. I will go as far as to say that anyone trying to accurately portray a person through a fiction or persona will get things wrong, leave things out, and do this by bending to normative notions and stereotypes. This creates false ideas of who people are and who people ought to be. More, we become further and further removed from the real person with everything we design in this way.

What I cannot figure out with Joanne Entwistle’s book chapter is why she did not include any visual examples.  Sure fashion trends come and go, but she could have shown the same woman wearing different garments and point out the differences between how a woman is portrays herself.

Hilary Clinton was first lady from 1993-2000, where she had the role of being the president’s wife. It is not an official role and she did not get paid for being First Lady.  What she wore was feminine, had bright colors, lace, form fitting, etc. Could she have worn these same clothes and be taken seriously as a leader when running for President in 2008?  Compare the two images, the one above and the one below based on what she is wearing. What kind of message is she portraying? What is she saying about herself?

My point here is an attempt to give a visual example for Joanne Entwistle’s argument. Which I agreed with as I was reading, but would have had a better understanding of if she gave me visual examples other than just describing garments.  Over spring break, I remember watching the Today Show and there being a segment about the Wrap Dress turning 40.  Would have I understood what the wrap dress even was or it’s role in feminism was by Matt Lauer just standing there and describing it?

I came across this video and got a nice reminder of the semiotics class. The coding in the attire and the video setup is a clear callout to the transgression they are about to perform. I have not heard the original song “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC, but even though I was not entirely aware of the Artworld they are directly evoking, I can’t deny their performance was electric 🙂


In a world that has become so saturated with commodified signs that they have begun to lose meaning, sometimes it’s best to slap together a bunch of stock footage and just see what happens.


In looking for a sublet and posting a sublet on Craigslist for this coming summer, language and images are everything. Even on the listing screen, you can tell from the title whether the posting is by a spammer, a broker, or a person you might get along with. The string of <150 characters in listing titles are arranged, CAPITALIZED, misspelt., !!!*~over excited~*!!!, and less frequently from a cool, calm, normal human you’d actually like to live with.

I just engaged in my first ever posting, and I found myself looking at example postings to capture the “Craigslist Speak”. I pondered “What does asterisk surrounding a word in all caps say about me?”. There is a specific addressee, and on this low-tech, basic html site, you, as the addressor, have to adapt to the native lingo to gain attention. The site is coded in an informal format, and as an addressor, it feels like you’re supposed to use incorrect grammar and spellings to get the point across and feign importance.

The context of Craigslist is a perfect example of semitics at work. It has been a hilarious experience to code my wording to operate well in this context. Check out my posting to see how I tried to speak Craigslist:

Today in class, we discussed how a song was metal, broadway, or both, based on semiotics. I’m hoping to expand a little more on that here and work on my understanding of it.

Over Spring Break I re-read Faithfull: An Autobiography by Marianne Faithfull and David Dalton.  I could probably spend hours talking about Marianne Faithfull’s books and music as she is one of my favorite singers.  Her post 1969 voice is not for everyone, but it fits the worn, survivor she became after years of dealing with homelessness and drug/alcohol abuse.

In her book, Marianne discussed her first single, As Tears Go By, which she recorded when she was 16 years old.  It became a huge pop hit and launched her into stardom.  In 1987 she rerecorded the song for her first post-recovery album Strange Weather, and in her book, she stated 16 was not the appropriate age to record this song, 40 was the right age. I cannot help but agree with this after hearing the two versions, one right after another.  To me, event though the lyrics and the performer are the same, they are two completely different songs.

First off, the 1964 recording is very light sounding, sounds like a 16-year-old convent girl spending her life trying to figure out what she should do with her life, whereas the 1987 recording sounds as if the person has been to hell and back. The re-recording is a more reflective song, she is looking back on her life, seeing what she has been through and accepting where she is today — it almost sounds regretful when she says she sits and watches As Tears Go By now, wishing and wondering how things could have been different.  It became so much more personal, whereas the original 1964 songs sound a lot more generic. Marianne did not have the experiences yet to fully express the meaning of the song and make it a personal reflection on her life — just taking the lyrics at face value and not interpreting them as a way to show her journey from where she was to where she is.  Could it be the voice or her appearance in the two videos that makes the two different, but to me, it is more about the performance.  The performance of the 1987 recording is what makes it different.  It has been slowed down, with more emphasis on the lyrics — they can be heard loud and clear with minimal production.  Marianne sounds connected to the words here and even though she did not write the song (with was the first collaborative effort between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards), it sounds as if she did or could have.  The words became her accepting who she became.

Along with all my classmates’ posts/questions/confusions/concerns about the final paper, here I’m contributing more…

I was working on my final paper for a while. For the pre-writing assignment, I have got a pile of materials, and at that moment, I though I had enough to write. But as the class moves on, I got more and more new ideas. So now I’m not sure where I should go 😦

For example, in my pre-writing assignment, my framework is: Jeff’s interaction criticism (especially interface and user), collaboration and intimacy, and an example game. While reading class readings, I have added semiotics and feminism to this pile. I like Shaowen’s use of “cues of interaction” in one of her papers, so I’m thinking about “cues of intimacy”, and small group collaboration (e.g., in-game marriage) can be a type of such cues. Of course there are other cues too, for example, “cues of reveal”, because gamers like posting their love stories to the game’s online forum. I also think the perspective of feministic HCI can be useful, since the example game is very girlish, and more than half of players are girls (which are different from results of other game studies).

So, now I have many more theories and have some difficulties to incorporate them perfectly in a single paper. Especially, I already have got the comments that this topic (collaboration and in-game marriage) may be too broad for a single paper, not to mention if I want to use interaction criticism, semiotics and feminism…

I know I may need to narrow it down, or just pick up one theory. But I like them all (and all of them can be applied to my research) so I don’t how to make decision.