Accessibility links

The other day, I wrote about the problem of how changing your behaviour can seem negligible in response to massive challenges like anthropogenic climate change. Your own actions seem very small, but when people start connecting together and talking about what they're doing, you begin to see it's not so pointless.

Skimmer from Fallon

Skimmer from Fallon

The other day, I wrote about the problem of how changing your behaviour can seem negligible in response to massive challenges like anthropogenic climate change. Your own actions seem very small, but when people start connecting together and talking about what they're doing, you begin to see it's not so pointless.

The technical name for using the web to publish your life in this way is lifestreaming, and an interesting development happened yesterday when Fallon, the ad agency behind Cadbury's drumming gorilla and the Sony Bravia ads, released Skimmer, a lifestreaming application.

Skipping over commenting on Fallon's strategy with this complementary direction to their more traditional work (see Skimmer's privacy policy here for details of how they might use the information), Skimmer aggregates your Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, and Blogger accounts in one (nicely designed space). Have a look at the screenshots here.

What's the potential of lifestreaming with regard to behaviour change though?

The effect of social norms on behaviour is well described by one of Cialdini's experiments. Hotels often try to encourage visitors not to request fresh towels every day - to save on the energy and detergent needed to clean them. This is often done with a message on a door-hanger like:

"HELP SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT. You can show your respect for nature and help save the environment by reusing your towels during your stay."

For the purposes of the experiment, elements of social norms were added to another message, changing it to:

"JOIN YOUR FELLOW GUESTS IN HELPING TO SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT. Almost 75% of guests who are asked to participate in our new resource savings program do help by using their towels more than once. You can join your fellow guests in this program to help save the environment by reusing your towels during your stay."

The towel re-use rate jumped from 35% (for the first message) to 44% (for the second).

Making the message even more personal "...75% of the guests who stayed in this room (#313) participated in our new resource savings program by using their towels more than once..." raised the re-use rate even higher.

Of course norms can be destructive rather than constructive, but used well, they have a powerful potential effect in helping us to change our behaviour when required, and the idea of lifestreaming brings this into reality for many web-savvy people.

Comments

Be the first to write a comment

Please login to post a comment or reply.

Don't have an account? Click here to register.