I’ve been reading an interesting book recently, Persuasive Technologies by B.J. Fogg. It might be a little out of date as regards the web but the principles are sound and can still be applied. There is clearly a moral issue over the use of persuasion in marketing but it can be very subtle and benefit both users and web site owners alike. Take Amazon’s recommendations for example, its a useful service to be offered things which you might also like to purchase because the recommendations are based on other real-life customer purchases. Amazon obviously benefit from increased sales.
Other forms of persuasion promote loyalty of a service such as store loyalty cards or Xbox Live! Achievements. The latter is a simple but clever inclusion in the Xbox 360 platform. When games are released on multiple platforms there is usually only insignificant differences between the versions. By keeping a tally of your overall Xbox 360 score and offering milestones along completion of each game, Microsoft encourage gamers to play games on Xbox 360 and to keep playing. I’m currently trying to get to 250,000 points in Geometry Wars without dying, just to claim another achievement. It becomes addictive.
I’m not sure where I stand on the use of persuasion in technology but when it adds value to something I don’t mind.