The art of holding two paradoxical ideas in the mind at the same time without going crazy
The psychographic analysis of blogs at the Typealyzer is most often misunderstood. Thats because it´s really hard to grasp that we are BOTH always changing in our personality AND pretty stable. The human psyche is dynamic. And still, most people (save the enlightened few) show a pattern in their behaviour if you study them closely for a while. The psychographic classifiers are intended to do just that by analyzing the words people use.
Even if the Typealyzer is in it´s early stages of development – I believe it has already proven something extremely interesting about online audiences (that would be you and me when we hang out on the Internet) and how our behaviour can be predicted pretty well. You just have to leave the thought of the individual behind the computer keyboard to see it.
Habitual thinking – a necessary evil in a complex world
When we are in a certain psychological mode (which some people are most of the time) our interest is directed toward certain ideas depending on our current fears and desires. For example: when I´m in my rational and imaginative mood (where I spend a great deal of my time when I´m relaxed) I tend to play with abstract ideas and technological possibilities in my mind. That draws my attention to websites such as ReadWriteWeb, TED and The Economist. That is predictable if you know me.
Words are manifested thoughts which are triggered by emotions
That is also predictable if you listen carefully to the words I use when I´m in that psychological mood. Words like “possibilities”, “ideas”, “evolve”, theory” are actually a reflection of what goes on inside my head at that time. At other times I´m more in a relational and imaginative mood (I´m very seldom a down-to-earth practical mood to some peoples frustration) and tend to use people-oriented words more frequently; “love”, “together”, “sharing” and “society” for instance. It´s now possible to name those two moods, thus categorising different personas I use. Let´s call the first one Geek and the other one Hippie. Hence; I belong to the Online Audience the Hippie-Geeks. By letting a computer run through a lot of personal texts written by Hippies, Geeks and Hippie-Geeks I can start look for patterns in what web pages they link to, what commercial brands they mention, what other Online Audiences they tend to interact with using social media, what people they quote and get inspired by etc. LOTS of fun for us Geeks and Hippies!
Deep shit about identity
Most of us haven´t a clue about who we are. But still we are very prone to THINK that we do. As long as our most basic needs are met when we act upon our belief systems we have no reason to question them. For instance, if I get money for food by going to my office at 9 o´clock every morning and leave at 5, I tend to build up a belief system about how food is brought to my table. I attach a lot of values to that belief system; my own self-value for instance or the value of staying put even if the job bores me to tears. I might start to identify myself with all those habitual thoughts and finally, if the conditions have been stable long-enough, with a whole very complex belief-system of how thing´s work and should be done about where to spend the days, at what time and how feelings of boredome should be acted upon.
Belief-systems about our basic desires such as sex, food and shelter (and the means for attaining and accumulating them) are REALLY hard to change. Leon Festinger´s theory of cognitive dissonance says that it hurts to replace even minor concepts in the belief-systems in relation to how much emotional charge there is to them. Mind strategies for getting sex and food are trickier to change than mind strategies for getting our clothes washed or what URL to type in for a quick look on the latest news.
So most of us who have the privelage of living under comfortable circumstances when it comes to our basic needs haven´t had strong enough pressure on us to see that we are actually not as consistent in who we are under different circumstances (a busy day, with friends, with strangers on the bus, when making love, when a loved one gets seriously ill or dies etc). Furthermore – in our fast paced society – we´re generally not very good at observing ourselves either. I mean REALLY observe ourselves like some meditational techniques and watching ourselves speak on video in order to improve our stage performance helps us to do.
Blogs are to researchers like animal footprints to trackers – times a gazillion
Blogs makes every researcher´s, interested in the human psyche, wettest dreams come true. They make best-practice digital antropology possible; fly-on-the-wall methodology. Combined with a tool for sorting out the noice among the vast amounts of data shared by millions of people daily it is possible to do qualified guesses about why some news stories spread faster and more than other and among what social netoworks they travel. Why some people are more influential than others in some social groups and in some contexts. How ideas spread among people. Which is the THE question in the current dawning of the psychological age.
Some people sees an opportunity to accumulate a shit-load of money in the hands of a few. Others an opportunity to make the world to a little better place. The truth is both.