RE: virus: banner ad prototype

Lena Rotenberg (
Wed, 31 Dec 1997 20:08:21 -0500

Replying to Wade and to David...

Wade asked, "Then again, is not the necessity of getting past a few things
at the site in and of itself a hook for the newbie?"

I really don't know the answer to this. I'm in favor of a very direct
approach, especially when one of the principles of CoV is honesty in
advertising. I can only speak for myself: I don't have a lot of time or
patience to "get past a few things". I'm confronted all the time with too
much to read, too much to check out, too much to process. If something
doesn't hook me immediately (or come so highly recommended that I'll make
an effort), it's history. Call it infoglut, call it natural selection of

Replying to David:

>>Reaction upon seeing the page: 1) how the heck can anybody affirm they
>>know what I want? 2) I don't want anything to do with biohazards; 3) this
>>reminds me of scientology BS (finally looked into it yesterday!), when they
>>affirm that unless I adopt their philosophy we will blow ourselves up with
>>H bombs; 4) these people think in terms of black and white; 5) these people
>>are nuts and I want out of here.
>Comments on reactions:
>1) We think you want a meaningful life and happiness. If we're wrong about
>that, then I guess we have nothing to offer.

:-) Maybe, instead of "We know what you want", an "in your face" triple

"You want a meaningful life" (or "Meaningful life"). Transition to
"[You want] happiness." Transition to the URL.
"[You want to] improve the world." Transition to "meme"

>2) Maybe we should just stick with the Ideohazard? (That symbol that the
>biohazard morphs into)

How widespread is the ideohazard meme? First time I saw it was today, but
it's pertinent to memes and I'd stick with it. I'd get rid of the
biohazard. Static, perhaps: have only the text move.

>3) How so? I mean, how do you get a threat out of it?

I don't really get a threat out of it -- it was the parallel between
"eliminate biohazard = CoV" with "eliminate H Bomb = Scientology" which got
to me. One of the ways to sell something is to implicitly point out the
terrible consequences of one's not buying the product. Old, tired,
technique, but still effective.

>4) Do you think the same thing about everything represented by black & white

No. But that is my reaction when they are accompanied by the words
"lucifer" and "virus"... Lucifer connotes dichotomies between good and
evil, reminds me of religious persecutions and other idiocies based on b/w
thinking, etc. The black and white there reiterates this message, at least
to me.

>5) Maybe we are nuts :)

No you're not. But from the banner I wouldn't have reached that
conclusion... :-)

>I do appreciate your comments. Obviously this particular ad doesn't work
>on whatever demographic you're in (I'm not sure what that might be.)

40, female, ex-research physicist, educator (beyond school stuff), English
as a second language (Portuguese is the first), computer literate,
non-sectarian, action oriented, passionate, independent, and busy. And
totally nuts, but that goes without saying.

>Sounds good, how do we do that? Different symbol? If so, what?
>More colours? What text would attract someone like you? (Remember,
>we need really short phrases to fit in a banner ad.)

One possibility given above. Colors, yes -- but not many, not in Wired
style. Green (connotes earthy things, ecology, etc.)?

>Can we go with a multiple vector approach, or does the orthodox Virus
>motif (tongue-in-cheek pseudo-evil look) potentially undermine our
>other efforts?

I'm for a multiple vector approach. Not being an X-er I don't appreciate
the pseudo-evil look (to me it's utterly boring), but others might. As for
tongue-in-cheek, fine, as long as we're careful with the connotations.
Calling CoV a religion is an oxymoron to a certain extent, and I think
that's great! But I happen to like oxymorons; others might not see the
humor and be turned off by the mere mention of "church".

>>considering that our main venue is the internet, that's not good. "Virus"
>>also connotes something destructive which is usually not engineered to
>>improve anyone's lot: a virus is something that one inadevertently gets
>>infected with, suffers from, and can even die from.
>Same with ideas. If that wasn't true, there would be no need for the CoV.

Absolutely! My point is that rarely do we see "good" viruses, and thus the
negative connotations may prevail. I'm familiar with some cognitive psych
-- if people have to process "evil" into "pseudo-evil" into "good" in order
to get the message, it's an unnecessary cognitive load. Unless, of course,
other objectives are being met -- such as publicity.

>>As for "lucifer", a non-theistic approach to religion should not risk being
>>even remotely confused with satanism.
>Being an atheist doesn't mean necessarily underestimating the power of myth.
>At the time I was thinking that a controversial domain name would generatu
>some publicity.

Also true. But not underestimating the power of myth doesn't mean we must
necessarily make it our own, line, hook, and sinker.... As for publicity,
ok -- but I ask, what kind of publicity do you want, Salmon Rushdie kind?
(I have not bought his book--have you?). Possible substitute: Lillith,
mentioned in the apocryphal Bible? (Adam's first wife; that name could
also detract the serious faithful, but would be less conducive to good/evil

>Church of Meme or just Meme? Do you think it would be easier to propagate
>the meme-complex as a religion or a philosophy?

That question was what got me stuck when I attempted to reply to your
personal post. I see advantages and disadvantages to both. Multi-vector
approach again? Uh, CoM might be interpreted as a XXX site, how's that for
publicity? <g>

Thanks for pmb (preserving my butt),


Lena Rotenberg