Article

Erratic Appliances and Energy Awareness

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Abstract

We are exploring how to increase energy awareness through critical interaction design, creating objects that expose issues related to energy consumption in various ways. To draw attention to energy beyond ordinary conceptions as a technical solution in everyday life, we inquire into other ways of relating to energy in design and to uncover the properties of energy as a design material. To learn more about how energy can be made more present in product design, we have been redesigning a series of everyday objects around the theme of ‘erratic appliances’. As household energy consumption increases, these appliances start to behave strangely. The aim was to use designerly and experience-based means to make people aware of their energy consumption instead of measuring energy consumption solely with meters and numeric displays.

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... The prototypes that came to be domesticated were originally designed without a prospect of a domestication study to come. Rather, the idea of conducting the study reported here was born as a result of a conference presentation (Ernevi et al. 2005) and through networking. The head of a domestication project, Prof Koskinen, proposed for collaboration, and two of the Static! ...
... When it detects other electric appliances being used in its environment, it loses the tune and starts to make disturbing noises. (Ernevi et al. 2005;Backlund et al. 2006.) ...
... At some point of the domestication period the households were informed by the researchers that the radio was designed to be erratic when many electronic devices nearby were in use. The designer scenario had been to force the user to make choices between different appliances (Ernevi et al. 2005). One of the couples happened to reflect upon this idea in detail: ...
... The Institute's Static! Research project also led to a number of other interesting energy-use feedback concepts, including a power strip with an illuminated cord (where the intensity or pulse frequency of the illumination corresponds to the total current being drawn at the time) (Interactive Institute n.d.), an electric radiator using thirty-five 60W incandescent lightbulbs (to illustrate clearly to users the significant heat by-product of incandescent filament household lighting) (Gyllensward et al 2006), and an 'Erratic Radio' which intentionally receives the 50Hz signals from household electric appliances in the area, and uses these to affect the tuning of conventional radio stations, so that the sound quality deteriorates as more appliances are switched on in the room (Ernevi et al 2005). The above examples help reveal the physical science behind everyday energy use; it is also appropriate to demonstrate to users the financial costs of their behaviour — how much extra it will cost to switch a device on, how much it is costing per minute, how much it has cost in the past month, and so on — and this is something which the new generation of home energy monitors are well-placed to permit. ...
Article
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User behaviour is a significant determinant of a product’s environmental impact; while engineering advances permit increased efficiency of product operation, the user’s decisions and habits ultimately have a major effect on the energy or other resources used by the product. There is thus a need to change users’ behaviour. A range of design techniques developed in diverse contexts suggest opportunities for engineers, designers and other stakeholders working in the field of sustainable innovation to affect users’ behaviour at the point of interaction with the product or system, in effect ‘making the user more efficient’. Approaches to changing users’ behaviour from a number of fields are reviewed and discussed, including: strategic design of affordances and behaviour-shaping constraints to control or affect energyor other resource-using interactions; the use of different kinds of feedback and persuasive technology techniques to encourage or guide users to reduce their environmental impact; and context-based systems which use feedback to adjust their behaviour to run at optimum efficiency and reduce the opportunity for user-affected inefficiency. Example implementations in the sustainable engineering and ecodesign field are suggested and discussed.
... Another householder suggested -in response to discussion of smart metering and demand-based pricing changes -that being able to 'hear' the load on the grid (for example, a pleasant background hum could become discordant as the grid's frequency changes due to high demand, or the tick of a clock could become temporarily faster) would be less intrusive than, for example, a text message or a flashing light. There are echoes of early work in calm technology and ubiquitous computing, such as Natalie Jeremijenko's Live Wire (Dangling String) (Weiser & Brown, 1995), or Ernevi et al.'s (2007) Erratic Radio, in which the 'display' fits with the existing daily visual landscape and soundscapes (Schafer, 1977) of the environment. Sonification of energy use along these lines could enable ambient comprehension of energy use with multiple appliances, including pattern recognition and state changes (Serafin et al., 2011). ...
... In this case, the starting point lay in conceptual redesigns of how household appliances could be made to express aspects of risk and unpredictability as a result of ever-increasing energy consumption in a more local here-and-now way. The erratic radio is one such redesigned appliance, based on a slight transformation of what it means to listen to a radio (see Figure 4) [Ernevi et al. 2005a]. ...
Article
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This is an analysis and exploration of a basic aesthetic issue in interaction design: how an ambition to design strong and persistent relations between appearance and functionality, evident in approaches such as tangible user interfaces, in crucial ways in which conflicts with the ways miniaturization of technology have changed the relation between the object's surface and its internal complexity. To further investigate this issue, four conceptual design experiments are presented exploring the expressiveness and aesthetic potential of overloading the object's surface by adding several layers of interaction, thus creating a kind of tangled interaction.
... There have been some efforts from design practitioners and academics to influence human behaviour for sustainability in addition to fulfilling the needs and wants of consumers or users (Ernevi, Palm and Redstr?m 2007, Jelsma and Knot 2002, Kuijer and Jong 2012, Lilley 2009, Lockton, Harrison and Stanton 2013, Oliveira, Mitchell and Badni 2012, Pettersen and Boks 2008, Scott, Bakker and Quist 2012, Tromp, Hekkert and Verbeek 2011. This relatively recent design practice is often referred to as Design for Sustainable Behaviour (DfSB) and aims to reduce the environmental and social impacts of products, services and systems (Bhamra and Lilley 2015). ...
Thesis
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Upcycling is the creation or modification of a product from used materials, components and products which is of equal or higher quality or value than the original. Scaling-up upcycling, in theory, contributes ultimately to reducing carbon emissions by extending lifetimes of used materials, components and products, and thereby decreasing embodied energy. This PhD focuses on the emerging household behaviour of upcycling as niche environmentally significant behaviour. It aims to understand the current upcycling behaviour and factors that influence behaviour in order to develop design and policy interventions to influence behaviour in order to upscale upcycling. Interviews, a short questionnaire study, a survey and use of a ‘semi-Delphi’ method (a questionnaire study followed by a workshop with experts) were employed. The interviews provided insights into current upcycling behaviour (e.g. approaches to and context for upcycling), behavioural factors influencing upcycling, and potential differences arising from demographic characteristics. The short questionnaire study showed that upcycling has potential to create high attachment leading to product longevity. The survey revealed UK-specific key behavioural factors of upcycling (intention, attitude and subjective norm) and the potential target groups for scaling- up (people in art and design aged 30 years or older) based on group differences. Synthesising the data from the interviews and surveys, 15 promising design and policy interventions for upscaling upcycling were formulated. These interventions were subsequently explored and evaluated through the semi-Delphi study. The outcome pinpointed the suitable actor(s) for each intervention and sets of important and feasible interventions for short-term and long-term success in scaling-up. This research contributes further to knowledge in design for sustainable behaviour by suggesting interventions beyond product and communication design to influence behaviour, and demonstrating novel use of mixed methods consumer research based on a behaviour model and an existing framework for behaviour understanding and intervention. The research also contributes to knowledge in upcycling theory and practice by providing behavioural insights, factors influencing upcycling and promising interventions for upscaling upcycling in the UK. Finally, a contribution was made to consumer behaviour theory by suggesting and testing a new combination model to understand behaviour.
... There are echoes of early work in calm technology and ubiquitous computing, such as Natalie Jeremijenko's Live Wire (Dangling String) (Weiser and Brown 1995), or Ernevi et al's (2007) Erratic Radio, in which the 'display' fits with the existing daily visual landscape and soundscapes (Schafer 1977) of the environment. Sonification of energy use along these lines could enable ambient comprehension of energy use with multiple appliances, including pattern recognition and state changes (Serafin et al. 2011). ...
Chapter
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Influencing energy use is a major research topic. However, many approaches lump ‘energy demand’ together, disconnected from everyday artefacts, the realities of household life, and people’s diverse understandings of the systems around them. There is an opportunity for research through design which addresses relationships with the invisible concept of energy through new kinds of feedback. Powerchord is an ongoing (2014—) exploration of sonifying energy use in near-real time. The prototypes developed so far monitor multiple household electrical appliances in parallel, turning readings of the instantaneous power being drawn into various kinds of sounds. Powerchord provides a form of ambient experiential feedback intended to fit with the soundscapes of everyday domestic life, while (perhaps) enabling a deeper understanding of the characteristics of energy use. The concept was developed from ideas suggested by householders during co-creation sessions as part of the European SusLabNWE project, funded by INTERREG IVB, as part of our wider exploration of the invisibility of energy which also led to ‘Drawing Energy’ (see Chap. 14 ‘Participatory Drawing in Ethnographic Research’).
... Applied to the sustainability context, PT has manifested in a wide array of tools to better inform users of their resource usage, most often through household electricity monitoring interventions (what Pierce and Paulos (2012) call 'electricity consumption feedback research' or ECF), with marginal focus on other 'sustainable' behaviors like recycling. The persuasive elements of these PTs include, but are not limited to, awareness (Öhman et al., 2010), reminders (Pace et al., 2007), incentivization (He et al., 2010), social comparison (Petkov et al., 2011), positive reinforcement (Ernevi et al., 2007), aversive feedback (Comber and Thieme, 2013;Foster et al., 2011;Kirman et al., 2010), goal setting (Erickson et al., 2013), decision support (Froehlich et al., 2009;Gukeisen et al., 2007) and gamification and competition Froehlich et al., 2009;Ross, 2011). As these are fairly standard persuasive tactics used in other domains, existing standards for ethical PT should apply in this context. ...
Article
Designing persuasive technology—that is, technology to change people's behaviors and attitudes—is seen as a morally risky venture. Recent work has begun to apply established approaches such as Value Sensitive Design (VSD) and Participatory Design, which guide the designer to deeply and deliberately engage with the needs and values of future users and other stakeholders. But with super-wicked problems such as global climate change, these approaches can mire the designer in analysis paralysis—particularly problematic as harmful effects of climate change are already upon us. Is sustainability, thus, an exception to the emerging consensus that ethical design proceeds slowly and cautiously? We argue not: whether caused by climate change, war, disease or injustice, human suffering always demands the swiftest response that is prudently possible. We argue for a mature balance between deliberation and action—especially when the consequences of action are unforeseeable but the consequences of inaction are unthinkable. We propose a route forward whereby practitioners may ethically realize the full persuasive potential of persuasive technologies: by adopting a VSD approach to cultivating values and fostering deliberation; by engaging in Participatory Design not with end-users, as is traditionally done, but with domain experts who can offer real insight into meaningful persuasive technology goals; by supporting collective action rather than preserving above all users' rights to opt out of persuasion; and by appealing to fear in cases where fear is integral to the narrative driving the persuasive technology goal, while promoting efficacy in the face of fear.
... Making energy 'more visible' is one of the goals of so called 'eco-feedback' design, since the invisible and intangible nature of electricity is often cited as a key driver for its profligate use and unsustainable levels of consumption in the home [4]. Provocative designs such as the erratic radio [5] raise awareness of collective grid load by detuning during high consumption periods. The power aware cord [6] glows brighter the more power consumed; whereas the 'flower lamp' blooms when household energy consumption reduces over time. ...
Article
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With peak oil behind us, nuclear generation capacity dwindling, and increasingly daunting looking carbon emissions targets, we are moving to a world where we must consider transitioning to renewable energy sources. Renewables are time varying and their inherent unpredictability must challenge our everyday assumptions around energy availability-leading, we believe, to an emphasis on 'supply' rather than 'demand'. Using a range of methods including action research, participatory design and technology mediated enquiry, we report on our work in partnership with the community of Tiree as an exemplar of this future. Tiree is the outermost of the Scottish Inner Hebrides - a remote island on the edge of the national electricity grid with a precarious grip on energy-here we uncover the role of renewables and the resilience of a community in moving away from traditional energy provision. We offer opportunities for designing ICT to support supply driven practices in this context, and a simple framework for exploiting under and over supply.
... Whereas the Energy Curtain focused on the interaction with a single object, the development of the Erratic Radio aimed at exploring also the context of objects in use [7]. Using the kitchen as a starting point, we developed a series of conceptual sketches of how the behaviour of household appliances could be made to reflect aspects of overall energy consumption and how our energy use accumulates through the interactions with multiple objects. ...
Conference Paper
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To understand what it means to design ‘persuasive technology’, one probably needs to understand it in relation to design in general. Using examples from a variety of areas of design discourse, the first part of the paper presents the idea that design is inherently persuasive. Following a discussion of what this might imply to the identification of ‘persuasive design’ as an emerging research area, the idea of objects as persuasive arguments in material form is presented. Suggesting that this notion could be used as basis for working with persuasion in design, the paper finally presents a practical example of how this might work in a design research project.
... The Erratic Radio is a re-designed radio that 'listens' not only to normal radio frequencies but also to those around the 50Hz band – frequencies emitted by active electronic appliances. As a reaction to increasing energy consumption, the functional behavior of the radio becomes erratic and unpredictable, thus conceptually relating to the unpredictable, uncontrollable, and intangible effects of increasing energy consumption (Ernevi et al, 2005b). ...
Article
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As a kind of 'criticism from within', conceptual and critical design inquire into what design is about – how the market operates, what is considered 'good design', and how the design and development of technology typically works. Tracing relations of conceptual and critical design to (post-)critical architecture and anti-design, we discuss a series of issues related to the operational and intellectual basis for 'critical practice', and how these might open up for a new kind of development of the conceptual and theoretical frameworks of design. Rather than prescribing a practice on the basis of theoretical considerations, these critical practices seem to build an intellectual basis for design on the basis of its own modes of operation, a kind of theoretical development that happens through, and from within, design practice and not by means of external descriptions or analyses of its practices and products.
... There are echoes here of early work in calm technology and ubiquitous computing, such as Natalie Jeremijenko's Live Wire (Dangling String) [22], or Anders Ernevi et al's Erratic Radio [23], in which the 'display' fits with the existing daily visual landscape and soundscapes of the office (or home). Sonification of energy use along these lines could enable ambient comprehension of energy use with multiple appliances, including pattern recognition and state changes [9]. ...
Conference Paper
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This paper reports on work in progress to develop Powerchord, a near-real-time sonification system for electricity use data. Built around a common model of UK electricity monitor, Powerchord plays a variety of birdsong of different intensities in response to the instantaneous power readings from multiple household appliances, providing a form of ambient feedback intended to fit with the soundscapes of everyday domestic life while still enabling a deeper understanding of the energy use of appliances in the home. We start by setting the context of the broader 'design for sustainable behaviour' and energy use feedback fields, noting the predominance of visual feedback displays. We then describe findings from a programme of design research with householders, which highlighted that energy's 'invisibility' is a barrier to behaviour change. Co-creation work with householders led to exploring the development of sonification of energy data, first in summary form, and then in near real-time. The affordances of birdsong are discussed, and future research possibilities outlined.
... Based on a series of sketches and scenarios of how different appliances could become 'erratic', we developed the Erratic Radio (Figure 3). (Ernevi et al 2005b) In terms of basic functionality, a radio is a device that enables the user to tune in on a specific frequency to listen to something. The erratic radio adds another layer of such 'listening', namely an additional receiver that listens to frequencies around 50Hz, i.e. frequencies emitted by electric appliances. ...
Conference Paper
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Static! is a project investigating interaction and product design as a way of increasing our awareness of how energy is used in everyday life. Revisiting the design of everyday things with focus on issues related to energy use, we have developed a palette of design examples in the form of prototypes, conceptual design proposals and use scenarios, to be used as a basis for communication and discussion with users and designers. With respect to design research and practice, the aim has been to develop a more profound understanding of energy as material in design, including its expressive and aesthetic potential, thus locating issues related to energy use at the centre of the design process.
... The Institute's Static! Research project also led to a number of other interesting energy-use feedback concepts, including an electric radiator using thirty-ve 60W incandescent lightbulbs (to illustrate clearly to users the signicant heat by-product of incandescent lament household lighting) (Gyllensward et al 2006), and aǹ Erratic Radio' which intentionally receives the 50Hz signals from household electric appliances in the area, and uses these to aect the tuning of conventional radio stations, so that the sound quality deteriorates as more appliances are switched on in the room (Ernevi et al 2005). ...
Article
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Two of Donella Meadows' 'leverage points' for intervening in systems (1999) seem particularly pertinent to design for sustainable behaviour, in the sense that designers may have the scope to implement them in (re-)designing everyday products and services. The 'rules of the system' -- interpreted here to refer to affordances and constraints -- and the structure of information flows both offer a range of opportunities for design interventions to influence behaviour change, and in this paper, some of the implications and possibilities are discussed with reference to parallel concepts from within design, HCI and relevant areas of psychology.
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Research suggests that to allow for sustainable development, consumption patterns must be changed. Individual behaviour is central to society's impact on the environment. However, due to the complexity of environmental issues, much of the political debate and technology development is inaccessible to consumers and based on the values, interpretations and priorities of experts. User‐centred, user‐involved and participatory processes are fundamental in design disciplines such as interaction design and participatory design. Research into the possibilities for cross‐pollination of design for sustainability and user‐centred design has distinguished several strategies for design‐led behavioural change. The strategies differ with regard to the levels of control and responsibility that users are left with, ranging from empowerment through information about consequences of behaviour to blocking behaviour or forcing sustainable practices upon individuals. By considering technological behaviour‐steering strategies in the light of science and technology studies and theory on technological mediation, the paper addresses the ethical issues that arise and discusses how designers can contribute to more sustainable consumption patterns without compromising quality of life, individual freedom and democratic rights.
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Renewable energy infrastructures are becoming increasingly present in our environments, inevitably shaping the urban experiences of the everyday person as they move through the city. The profound impact these infrastructures have on social worlds has yet to be explored, with contemporary renewable energy discourse primarily focussing on the techno-economic. We argue for the everyday aestheticisation of renewable energy infrastructures, and how design thinking might offer a way forward in co-creating future meaningful experiences with renewable energy. We offer a collaborative design thinking workshop on the speculative experimentation of energy futures as a case study. The findings provide multi-scalar insights on exploring urban energy futures with citizen-designers – with aesthetics and lived experiences as central.
Thesis
Avec pour objectif d’engager les usagers à consommer moins d’électricité, des dispositifs de feedback ont été produits ces 20 dernières années. Cependant, de nombreuses études pointent leurs limites dans le contexte domestique. Dans cette thèse, nous soutenons que la prise en considération des pratiques réelles des usagers, pourrait permettre de générer de nouvelles pistes d’appareils de feedbacks énergétiques. Nous réalisons un Design Space pour décrire le point de vue des concepteurs. Nous analysons leurs choix, tels que les données utilisées, les manières de les représenter, de les diffuser, ainsi que les tâches attribuées aux usagers. En contrepoint, nous menons une étude empirique auprès de 10 participants. Grâce aux entretiens et aux observations effectués in situ, nous décrivons et analysons la manière dont ces derniers perçoivent l’électricité, estiment leurs consommations et adoptent des stratégies d’accès aux informations énergétiques. D’importants écarts entre ces deux points de vue sont identifiés. Nous nous appuyons sur ces constatations pour proposer des perspectives pour de futures conceptions. La seconde partie de cette thèse relate l’exploration d’une de ces perspectives. À la croisée des enjeux industriels et académiques, la définition d’un concept de dispositif, appelé « Interstices Informationnels », est proposée. Pour explorer ce concept, nous concevons un atelier de création où 15 propositions sont générées par un groupe d’étudiants en design. Les « Interstices Informationnels » seront repris avec les designers du DesignLab d’EDF. Quatre démonstrateurs sont créés et brevetés.
Article
This article explores the potential role of design in fostering absolute reductions in everyday consumption. It links ambitions to achieve absolute reductions to concepts from social theories of practice and design. Practice theory directs attention towards expectation levels, opening up questions about sufficiency. Design activity is often pointed out as a potential key instrument for creating change in sustainable directions, and the social practice as a relevant starting point for such work. Little attention is however paid to what may help and hinder practice-oriented initiatives. Consequently, this article asks what the role of design may be in fostering actual reductions in resource use when social practices continuously are in flux, and, what the space for action is, given societal arrangements rooted in ideas about boundless consumption.
Article
Over the last decade, the design research community has become increasingly interested in promoting more sustainable behaviors through the design of new products and services. We conducted a literature review to help advance this growing research area. The review characterizes the current state by identifying conceptual studies that proposed strategies, frameworks, toolkits, and guidelines for behavior change. It also documents empirical studies that investigate opportunities for behavior change by proposing novel artifacts that promote sustainable behaviors and evaluations of these artifacts through field studies. Our review identifies gaps including a lack of detail on how designers select target behaviors, users, and opportunities; research on topics other than electricity consumption and the domestic context; research that integrates behavior change strategies other than feedback; and longitudinal evaluations that demonstrate a lasting behavior change. Based on these gaps, we offer some priorities for future research.
Chapter
Reflection is the mental process that occurs when we encounter situations that cannot be effectively dealt with using previous experiences and solutions. For decades, it has been acknowledged as an important process in learning, and in recent years it has become a central focus of branches of interaction design. Games are highly appropriate vehicles for triggering and supporting reflection, but several of the dominant tropes of conventional game design directly work against reflection. In serious games, the promise of safe environments, the drive to pose problems with clear solutions and a preference for stealth learning complicate how directly we can design for reflection. In mainstream entertainment games, qualities such as immersion and the design traditions of designing for the everyplayer and quantifying motivation again run counter to a reflective agenda. Drawing on the critical and reflective design literature and on case studies of experimental games on the peripheries of mainstream game design, I propose reflective game design, a new alternative design agenda from which to design, deconstruct and make sense of play experiences.
Conference Paper
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In this paper we study the role of metaphorical design concepts in triggering a mindful consumption behavior. Through a retrospective study on persuasive metaphorical designs for behavior change, we identified 7 persuasive heuristics for using metaphors for behavior change. According to the ELM of persuasion and persuasive effect of visual metaphors, we hypothesized that the use of persuasive metaphors in design of a napkin dispenser increases the mindfulness of the users, presumably through a central route and would increase the probability that people make more informed decisions and use fewer napkins. We used persuasive metaphor heuristics to design a metaphorical napkin dispenser to inform people about the consequences of their excessive consumption on the environment and encouraged them to use fewer napkins. In a local coffee shop, we measured napkin consumption using three different napkin dispensers: the original dispenser with no metaphor, one dispenser that shows metaphorical connotations of sustainable consumption, and a dispenser with a non-conservation metaphor . The results suggest effective behavior change in response to the consumption related metaphorical design.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
To understand what it means to design ‘persuasive technology’, one probably needs to understand it in relation to design in general. Using examples from a variety of areas of design discourse, the first part of the paper presents the idea that design is inherently persuasive. Following a discussion of what this might imply to the identification of ‘persuasive design’ as an emerging research area, the idea of objects as persuasive arguments in material form is presented. Suggesting that this notion could be used as basis for working with persuasion in design, the paper finally presents a practical example of how this might work in a design research project.
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Can computers change what you think and do? Can they motivate you to stop smoking, persuade you to buy insurance, or convince you to join the Army? "Yes, they can," says Dr. B.J. Fogg, director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University. Fogg has coined the phrase "Captology"(an acronym for computers as persuasive technologies) to capture the domain of research, design, and applications of persuasive computers.In this thought-provoking book, based on nine years of research in captology, Dr. Fogg reveals how Web sites, software applications, and mobile devices can be used to change peoples attitudes and behavior. Technology designers, marketers, researchers, consumers-anyone who wants to leverage or simply understand the persuasive power of interactive technology-will appreciate the compelling insights and illuminating examples found inside. Persuasive technology can be controversial-and it should be. Who will wield this power of digital influence? And to what end? Now is the time to survey the issues and explore the principles of persuasive technology, and B.J. Fogg has written this book to be your guide.
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