Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

Testable Credentials in the era of Smartphones

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 05:03 -- rprice

While I haven't ever read Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, I recognize the book as a brand around the idea of these "sticky" concepts. Here is a neat video re-posted from Fast Company with one of the authors of Made to Stick.

Testable Credentials

How do you get people to believe your ideas? Well, there’s something we can learn from really sleazy ideas that catch on. For years, Snapple struggled to fight rumors that it supported the KKK.
This crazy rumor challenged people to “see for themselves.” See, look, there’s a K on it. Its credibility derived from something that people could test for themselves. My brother and I call this a “testable credential.” Notice what’s going on here conceptually—when we think about making ideas credible, we usually think about the source. The Surgeon General says something, and we believe it, because he’s a credible authority. But when you use a testable credential, you’re basically outsourcing the credibility of your idea to the audience. It’s like a “try before you buy” concept for ideas.

These sorts of things go over very well in conversations at bars, and they challenge our knowledge of trivia. For example, someone recently claimed to me that Ghirardeli Chocolate was owned by Kraft. Before the rise of internet-connected phones, I would take their word for it and try to remember to look it up later. However, even if I didn't, I'd probably still spread that meme until I could prove otherwise.

Now, every bet can be settled with Wikipedia and IMDB on your phone - particularly if these sites were to provide an off-line version of their database. I know there are several ways to get Wikipedia's English database onto smartphones, even if it takes up a few gigabytes of space.

What will be the next behavior that is outmoded by the wide availability of inexpensive portable internet-connected devices? Maybe my friends and family will stop calling me because they're pretty sure I'm "In front of my computer".

My response could be: "Of course I am, I picked up my phone!"


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