Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Persuasive Technology: can we use it to share our faith?, February 5, 2010
This review is from: Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do (Interactive Technologies) (Paperback)
Yesterday, I finished working my way through Persuasive Technology by B.J. Fogg. Dr. Fogg is the founder and leading researcher in the field of "captology", which is defined as the design, research, and analysis of interactive computing products created for the purpose of changing people's attitudes or behaviors. Though not written specifically to help churches and ministries with their online efforts, this book has a myriad of insights that are extremely applicable to those us interested in understanding how our ministries can have a more effective online presence.

There may be some who would ask: should a Christian ministry be learning about how to use technology to persuade people? Shouldn't we just present our message and then let people make up their own minds about their faith without any technological convincing? Isn't the use of "persuasive technology" one step short of tricking someone into believing our message? This simple answer is: no. Persuasion is not coercion. In fact, I feel that anyone who wants to effectively share the gospel must understand how to persuade someone. I would argue that anyone who puts up a web site, writes a blog, or even posts in Facebook is actually attempting to persuade: "go to my site!" "read my blog!" "like me more!" It is incumbent upon us to use technology to its best effect for the cause of Christ; understanding how to make it more persuasive and credible is an important step in this.

The book begins by defining how computing technology can be persuasive. Several categories of technology use are defined, along with the methods of persuasion that are associated with them. You can tell that Dr. Fogg is a researcher and an academic by how he methodically moves through the definitions and categories, with each chapter building on the last. It is the chapters beyond these opening, defining chapters, however, where this book becomes invaluable for online ministry. Here Fogg begins describing the idea that a technology must be perceived as credible if it is going to be persuasive. Perceived credibility is defined here as a combination of "perceived trustworthiness" and "perceived expertise". You must be viewed strongly in at least one of these two components; being perceived poorly in either one will lose you credibility. Dr. Fogg then takes these ideas of credibility and applies them to a research project on the credibility of web sites. The results are a laundry list of web site characteristics and how they relate to credibility. In the book over fifty different characteristics are ranked by the positive or negative effect they have on credibility.

If I had any criticisms of this book, it would simply be that it is already getting out of date (it is copyright 2003). While many of the concepts presented are lasting, the examples used in the book could use a refresh. The good news it that Dr. Fogg and his team at Stanford continue to research and write on this topic and many new works are in progress or available. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to understand how to make their site more credible.

This is just a summary of a much more detailed review, which you can find on my blog: [...]. Search on "book review".
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