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Big Brother or Reader-Friendly

July 4, 2008

The always amazing Alja Sulčič posted a link on Facebook to an article about web sites that adapt to readers, and I had an ambivalent response response to it –

While I believe it is essential for communicators to create reader-friendly media, I find myself worried about changes that I am not aware of influencing me.

Technology Review: Adapting Websites to Users via kwout

I have a double ambivalence because I would see this as a positive in the educational context, but I worry about it being used on me to influence my buying decisions “using cognitive styles to adapt Web pages to users, in most cases [this has] been for education, not for e-commerce.”While I think it’s appropriate to adjust the delivery of information for learners, I’m not so sure about using it for commerce.

The possibilities being explored go further than this:

the researchers plan to watch website users for cultural attitudes as well as for cognitive style, evaluating whether visitors have a hierarchical or egalitarian view of society, or whether they think in terms of what is good for the individual or what is good for the collective. Someone with a hierarchical view of society might receive loan advice from someone in a position of authority, while someone with an egalitarian view might receive advice from a peer. Similarly, a person’s tendency to think individually or collectively might influence which features of a product are most emphasized. If that experiment goes well, Urban says, he envisions global companies one day using website morphing techniques to build single websites that can adapt to users based on their cultural background, as well as on their cognitive style. The researchers are also working on using their morphing techniques to make banner ads more effective.

What do you think? Do you think this is a progressive reader-friendly trend, suitable for commerce as well as education?

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 4, 2008 5:43 pm

    I’ll weigh in on the progressive reader-friendly side of things. It seems to make a great deal of sense to be inclusive of all potential visitors to the site.

    Any concerns, I would suggest, reinforce the concept of internet literacy and that potential visitors need to size up all that they see when they visit a website.

    Thanks for researching and sharing the article. I found it intriguing.

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