While following a link from Google News to The Hindu Newspaper I found a Captcha that does more than make you prove you are not a Bot. It makes you think.
Not only is the graphic… well… graphic, it is a social message that will be repeated and reinforced.
And it is cost effective from the advertising point of view. This is a perfect example of lateral thinking.
Getting people to prove that they are humans and not bots is a thankless task, and annoying to the users. I take my hat off to NLPCaptcha, the company that thought this one up.
And here is another example.
A visit to the NLPCatcha web site shows the application of this technology for advertisers and marketers.
The Captchas I saw on the Hindu web site where social in nature, but advertisers can use these Captchas. They come with some interesting benefits.
Unlike banner ads, they must be focused on and interacted with.
There is a foolproof way of counting views.
It is a necessary security tool, but can provide a revenue stream for the web site.
The user knows they need to interact and read the Captcha, so they do not resent the time spent. The advertiser gets guaranteed attention.
Better user experience compared to the hated popups, and ignored banners.
This idea is a win-win situation for visitors, advertisers and web site owners.
There may be a down side, of course. Your message is being associated with an annoyance. But I think most users understand the need for verification And they are easier to use that the ones that require you to squint at blurry and twisted words!
My only added comment would relate to the Medium used. A HAND WRITTEN poster. Marshall McLuhan said “The medium is the message” meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. The simple hand written poster has a greater impact that a professional looking poster would.
The the person who wrote this poster has a problem that is common, and posters are a common way of appealing for help. Recently a large area of Launceston was papered with hundreds of laminated, professional looking colour posters about a lost or stolen dog, and offering a $5000 reward.
This poster is, for me, more effective. It is not just the message, that is discussed in detail in this post. The format, or medium contributes a powerful message itself.
Update: Tom advises that Merlin has been safely returned to his owner – sorry cats don’t have owners, they have STAFF.
Some years ago I worked for a computer company that was (at that time) the sixth largest computer company in the world. We had just won a contract to supply 22,000 color computer work-stations to one of the biggest government departments in Australia. This was pre-Internet, and almost pre-PC. Microsoft was selling MS/DOS (probably 2.2) and a good computer had one floppy- disk and a 10Mb hard-disk.
Our sales department had made some foolish compromises to win the contract, one being free training. Training is one area that companies like ours actually made money in, and it had been given away. We needed a smooth transition to the new equipment.
A Big Problem
Then the Union got involved. The keyboards for the new terminals where too stiff. Staff would get RSI (repetitive strain injury) from using the new, stiff keyboards. The keyboards had to be modified.
The keyboards were a new type, much like the typical computer keyboard today. They had extra dedicated function keys, but were similar in design to the keyboard you probably have in front of you now. Key pressure was controlled by a spring under every key. changing the key pressure required replacing the springs in 22,000 workstations, 2.64 million springs.
The company was fighting for it’s life. The government department wanted its terminals installed, and the Union (like most Unions) would not be moved. We had a meeting of all parties to try and resolve the issue.
The Union representatives sat and typed. Sorry, too hard on the hands, we need a solution. The three parties went to and fro for an hour with no solution. We were looking at the biggest financial disaster in the company’s history.
Then the service technician, who was on hand to make sure there where no problems with the terminal during the meeting stepped up and offered to provide a solution.
He sat and made a couple of changes and the stepped back saying “that should do it, but I can go a bit further”. The Union rep sat and typed. Then she called in her number two, who also sat and typed for a minute or two. They agreed it needed a little more work. The technician went back to the terminal, unruffled, and made another change.
This time the Union reps where unanimous, the changes where acceptable. Crisis averted. We left the meeting relieved but puzzled. What had our tech. done?
A lateral Solution
He admitted that he had simply lowered the volume of the click that was produced through the terminal speaker to make up for the lack of a physical click by these new keyboards. It had made no difference to the feel of the keyboard, the effect was purely psychological. Nonetheless, the workstations went into service and lived a long life.
A sudden piece of lateral thinking had changed a potential disaster into a victory. And that thinking had not come from the sales department or management, it had come from a field technician with an idea.